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Disability Support Services

Show all Disability Support Services Resources

Some agencies and organizations provide services to teens and young adults with disabilities that meet specific requirements. These agencies and organizations may be able to assist you in becoming a successful adult.

Department on Disability Services (DDS)
1125 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005
(202) 730-1700 (voice)

DDS provides services and supports to DC residents with disabilities that meet program requirements. DDS has two parts: the Developmental Disabilities Administration and Rehabilitation Services Administration.

  • The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is responsible for the oversight and coordination of all services and supports provided to all qualified persons with developmental disabilities in the District of Columbia. Developmental disabilities include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, autism, and other disabilities that occur during childhood. DDA provides services and supports to individuals with disabilities and their families based on their own needs and goals.Individuals who receive services complete an intake screening to make sure they meet program requirements. When an individual is qualified to receive services and supports from DDA, a team of people—including the person with developmental disabilities—meet to write a plan to help the person with developmental disabilities reach his or her goals. This Individual Support Plan (ISP) should be updated at least once a year to add and change goals. DDA works with many community agencies and service providers to offer—
    • Training and employment support
    • Support in homes and apartments (for adults)
    • Temporary relief for families supporting someone with disabilities
    • Other services and supports to help persons with developmental disabilities

  • Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)

    RSA provides job-preparation services designed to assist persons with getting a job:

    • Assessment, counseling and guidance
    • Physical restoration
    • Vocational training
    • Job search, placement and retention

    To be eligible for RSA services, you must have a physical and/or mental disability that is preventing you from having a job and require RSA services to prepare for, enter or maintain employment and/or live independently. RSA also manages the Social Security Disability Determination Program that decides claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Department of Mental Health (DMH)
64 New York Ave. NE, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20002
(202) 442-4202 (voice)

The Department of Mental Health's goal is to deliver mental health services that promote a patient's full recovery, respect cultural and linguistic diversity and are choice driven. The Mental Health Rehabilitation Services (MHRS) system for community-based care offers—

  • Evaluation and screening services
  • Case management and counseling
  • Intensive day treatment
  • Crisis or emergency services
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Specialized mental health services

If you are eligible for these services, you will be asked to select a Community ServicesAgency. Community Services Agencies are organizations responsible for providing support services to DC residents needing mental health services. Fees for services are determined on a sliding-scale basis. No one is turned away because of inability to pay.

DMH Access Help Line
1-888-7WE-HELP or 1-888-793-4357 (voice)

Mental health professionals staff this line 24/7. It is the best way to access DMH certified mental health service providers and rehabilitation. Call the Access Help Line to—

  • Share concerns
  • Get help with solving problems
  • Obtain emergency services
  • Decide whether to seek mental health or other types of services

Office on Disability Rights (ODR)
441 4th St. NW, Suite 729 North, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 724-5055 (voice), (202) 727-3363 (TTY)

ODR ensures that programs, services, benefits, and activities operated or funded by DC are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. ODR is responsible for oversight of the District's obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as other federal and local disability rights laws. The ODR assists the DC government and persons with disabilities in connection with ADA compliance and training and with discrimination complaints and investigations.

Disability Support Services in College

Disability support services in colleges advocate and arrange for academic support and campus accessibility for students with disabilities. This service has various names at different colleges, such as Disabled Student Services, Educational Access, or Special Needs. These services and supports are designed to allow the student with a disability to participate equally in a course with students who do not have disability. Students with disabilities are given an equal opportunity to succeed or fail, but they still need to meet all admission and course requirements for their area of study.

To receive services, students with a disability must place a request with the office and provide documentation regarding the disability (medical records or recent reports of tests).

NOTE: Give this documentation only to the disability support services office. Do not include disability-related documentation as part of your college admissions package.

Disability Support Services Coordinator

Typically, a college employee titled something like Disability Support Services Coordinator assists students with disabilities by ensuring equal access. Based on appropriate disability documentation provided by the student, the coordinator ascertains eligibility for classroom accommodations and works with students and instructors to ensure those accommodations are provided. Specific services typically include the following:

  • Meet with students who request accommodations for a disability
  • Review disability documentation to identify accommodations the student is eligible to receive
  • Prepare a written accommodations plan, an agreement between the student and college outlining the accommodations that will be provided
  • Coordinate and ensure the accommodation plan is in place
  • Work with college faculty, administrators, and staff as an advocate and provide support to all parties in the accommodations process
  • Educate disabled students about their role and responsibility as a self-advocate in the accommodations process

When to Contact the Disability Services Coordinator

Colleges offer different services and supports to students with disabilities. Acquiring information about the range of disability support services and how they are delivered at different schools can help determine which school will best fit your needs. Discussions with disability support services coordinators prior to applying to schools can inform with this decision.

Once admitted to a college, schedule a meeting with the disability services coordinator to arrange for services. Since some accommodations, such as tape-recorded texts and arranging for readers, scribes, and sign language interpreters, may require time to coordinate, it is best to schedule this meeting at least eight weeks in advance of the first school session.

Taking a Serious Look at College and Disability Support Services

When student with disabilities enter college, they become responsible for working with the college to accommodate any related support services. The following activities are recommended:

  • Learn about the requirements and demands of college course work:
    • Pay attention to admissions policies, requirements, and deadlines.
    • Get a course catalog and look at program and degree requirements.
    • Ask to visit a class at the college.
  • Visit the college bookstore and look through a textbook for a freshman-level course for the following:
    • The difficulty of the vocabulary
    • The number of pages and how long it takes you to read a page
    • The length of sentences and chapters
    • The presence of pictures, illustrations, and study aids
    If reading is difficult due to your disability, think about how you could get the information in the book.

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