2018 TASH Conference has ended
Each year, the TASH Conference brings together a diverse community of stakeholders who gain information, learn about resources, and connect with others across the country to strengthen the disability field. This year’s conference theme, “Be Creative - Innovative Solutions for an Inclusive Life,” reminds us to think outside the box during times of uncertainty. Creativity, innovation, and determination can pave the way for meaningful and inclusive lives for people with disabilities.

Thursday, November 29 • 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Taking your Service Dog to College: Academic, Residential, and Social Considerations

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Taking your Service Dog to College: Academic, Residential, and Social Considerations Making the transition to college can be an exciting yet stressful time. Making the transition to college as a person who uses a service dog can offer unique challenges. All areas of life are impacted including participating in academic life, living in the residence halls, and navigating the campus and classrooms. Students using service dogs not only need to address their own needs and the needs of their service dog, they often become ambassadors for service dog etiquette on campus as well. Service dogs that work for students with disabilities are entitled to full access on college campuses and universities that accept federal funds under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A service dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The dog must perform a task that a person with a disability could not perform independently and that mitigates the disability (i.e., makes the disability less severe, serious, or painful). Prior to arriving on campus, it is recommended that students notify the Office of Disabilities Services that they will be using a service dog on campus. Representatives from this office can help arrange class schedules, and address housing issues if needed. Not all campuses require students with service dogs to register with the Office of Disability Services if no other academic or access accommodations are needed. However, representatives from this office can provide valuable assistance and access to additional resources. Housing may need to be considered prior to arriving on campus, such as securing a room large enough to accommodate a service dog with easy access to a relief area. Roommate selection may be impacted given the presence of the dog. Students also need to consider any special supplies that will be needed to sustain the dog (i.e., food, water, special equipment, and options for veterinary care in the area). Class schedules must be considered as well when using a service dog. Breaks should be planned into the schedule to allow the dog to relieve and provide periodic breaks. The nature of the class (lab versus lecture) must be considered to prepare the dog for the environment. In lecture classes the service dog may need to sit still in a small space close to the handler for an extended time. In science labs, computer labs, or other classes requiring movement around the room, the service dog will be required to reposition often, navigate around specialized equipment, or stay on a mat in a corner of the room outside the path of constant movement. Students can alert professors in advance that a service dog will be attending class. Some professors will be comfortable and experienced with dealing with service animals. Others may need some guidance on service dog etiquette. The student can ask a professor to inform the class that the service dog will be attending. The student also can request an opportunity to address service dog protocol with classmates during the initial class session. In some cases, students will be familiar with the presence of the dog, and no direction is needed. If the dog is used to alert conditions such as impending seizures or low blood sugar, the student may want to inform the professor or a designated student of procedures to follow when the dog alerts. Once the schedule is made, student will need to consider the classroom arrangements, such as the type of seating available and if a larger service animal can fit under a desk or table. The student will need to determine the optimum location for the service dog in the classroom (e.g., an aisle seat away from the door to avoid distractions). The student may also need to determine the best path to navigate through the classroom to help address issues such as other students' reaction to the dog, both positive and negative. Although service dogs have legal access to the classroom, and fear of dogs and allergies are not a reason to remove the dog, the student may need to address the social landscape within the classroom. Social aspects of having a service dog on campus must be considered as well. Transportation time between classes may be impacted. Students who use service dogs on campus indicate that they are often stopped when walking between classes because people ask about their dogs, or they need time to allow the dogs to relieve. As a result, they reported that they were periodically late for class. Acceptance of the service dog and its legitimacy may also be an issue. Students with invisible disabilities have reported being questioned if they actually need the service dog's assistance and if the dog met service dog status. Some incidents of bullying have been reported as well. These issues are not unique to the college setting but may need to be addressed in within this specific environment and through channels offered by the college. For example, some schools offer Service Dog housing to allow individuals who use service dogs to live in a common area to provide social residential support for those bringing service dogs to campus. The purpose of this proposed presentation is to examine the academic, residential, and social issues involved with taking a service dog to campus. This presentation directly addresses the conference theme of Be Creative - Innovative Solutions for an Inclusive Life by addressing proactive and creative solutions for promoting inclusive post secondary education of individuals with disabilities who use service dogs on college campuses.

avatar for Anne Papalia

Anne Papalia

Shippensburg University
avatar for Zoe Papalia-Beatty

Zoe Papalia-Beatty

Student, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Environmental Public Health Senior presenting a poster with Dr. Anne Papalia about service animals and college life. Ask me about housing, service animals or college life!

Thursday November 29, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Salon E - Lower Level 1401 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97201