Students who have a long-term disability often have parents, friends, or agency advocates who are invaluable support to them. These advocates may accompany the students to classes and appointments, and they are accustomed to being involved in decision-making.
While we appreciate the assistance of community advocates, it is our goal at the DRC to help students to become as independent as possible, to formulate their own goals, and to speak for themselves to the extent possible. We appreciate that this may involve a period of adjustment and re-learning for both the student and their advocate.
A typical scenario is for the parent or advocate to contact the Instructor for information about the student's attendance or academic progress. The situation is the same as it would be for any other student: You may not release information without the student's express permission. It does not matter if the student is still in high school, is a tax dependent, has a serious disability, or whether the parent or agency is paying the bills.
Another typical scenario is for the student to come to class or office hours, accompanied by a parent or advocate. While you would have that student's implied consent to disclose, we recommend that you gently suggest that the parent let the student handle the situation themselves. You may suggest that you prefer to meet with students alone, and ask the advocate to return at a time.
A student who has mobility or communication barriers may need to have the advocate with them at all times. In these cases, Instructors are encouraged to speak directly to the student, not to the advocate. Often you will ask the student a question, and the parent will answer for their perfectly articulate student. We encourage you to re-direct the question to the student, and wait for their answer.