Paths to Freel Library and Bowman Hall

Disability Resources

START STRONG Academy - JOIN US on August 29 & 30, 2021 for a
2-Day College Success Academy that will introduce students to college campus life while diving deeper into common transition challenges. See details below!

"I really appreciated this opportunity last fall and I would recommend the Start Strong Academy to new students. Attending the academy gave me a personal comfort in my arrival to this totally new college experience!"

We are experiencing truly unique times. If you have questions about how the office is handling safety for COVID-19 please email us at

Helping build pathways to learning for students with disabilities.

MCLA is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities. We work to provide students with equitable access to all MCLA programs and services. Our philosophy and programs assist eligible students in fostering independence in college to the fullest extent possible, embracing self-advocacy, and in developing skills to transition and succeed in their careers. We believe that disability is a natural part of human variation and an essential aspect of diversity. 

The Office of Disability Resources, located in the Center for Student Success and Engagement, provides students with individualized support services based on the nature of the documented disability. A testing center, located on the garden level of Eldridge Hall proctors exams for students with approved testing accommodations. Disability Resources also provides one-on-one personalized training  on general technology and on assistive technology hardware/software.

road trip sign with arrow


JOIN US ON August 29 & August 30, 2021

The Start Strong Academy will introduce freshmen students to college campus life while diving deeper into some of the common transition challenges experienced by freshmen students. Brought to you by the Office of Academic Support and Disability Resources, this two-day academy will offer a meaningful pre-college experience that will “steer you on the road to success.” During the Academy, students will learn how to build self-advocacy skills, discover their unique learning style, learn valuable study skills/habits, set specific learning goals, and make their way around campus and into the larger community.

The Start Strong Academy uses the metaphor of a road trip for getting through college’s tougher transition challenges.

So grab your backpack, jump onboard and roll down the window. Join us for an exciting ride. Registration information will be emailed to all freshmen students SOON!


How to begin Disability Support Services:

  1. Review the Office of Disability Resources webpage for information. A pre-admission visit to the college is highly recommended. 
  2. Complete the Registration form provided below.  Provide current and comprehensive documentation of your disability. Suggested documentation includes: High School IEP or 504, psychoeducational assessments, diagnostic documentation from qualified, licensed professional, medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker. 
  3.  Schedule an intake meeting with a staff member in the Office of Disability Resources.  Through an interactive process  the student and Disability Resource staff will determine accommodations that are appropriate and reasonable. Together they will formulate an Accommodation plan that lists approved accommodations.
  4. Student presents a copy of their accommodation plan to their faculty each semester. Students are strongly encouraged to schedule a meeting  with their faculty to discuss their plans. 
  5. Student should keep a copy of all disability documents and a copy of their accommodation plan. It may be useful for graduate school or professional licensure.   
  6. Student is encouraged to stay in touch with the Office of Disability Resources. Our door is always open. 

Typical Accommodation

Based on documentation, reasonable accommodations might include:

  • Priority access registration

  • Alternative testing

  • Note takers or recording devices

  • Accessible instructional materials

  • Assistive technology

  • On-campus housing

Please note that these represent some accommodations provided to MCLA students. Students' needs are reviewed on an individual basis and specific accommodations will reflect each individual student.

Success Coaching

Success coaches provide one-on-one support to students throughout their first year at MCLA. Coaches work with students on transition competency areas to develop the structure and framework necessary to be successful in college.  Coaches work in partnership with students to improve academic skills, to identify resources, and to address any obstacles to academic success.  Success Coaching is individualized, strength-based and holistic. 

Success coaches are currently available via TEAMS. In-person coaching will resume in the Fall, 2021. If you would like to opt into the coaching program please email or call us at (413)662-5314.

Don't forget to ask about taking the LASSI (Learning & Study Skill Assessment). Become more aware of what areas you can work on to improve your academic and  study skills. 

Assistive Technology

The Disability Resource Office provides screenings on a variety of assistive technologies and software applications. Screenings provide an opportunity for students and the Disability Resource staff to review and discuss various assistive technologies and software  that may be useful. Screenings are also a chance to discuss any current or past challenges with different technology.  Introductory sessions on how to get started are available by request.

  • Kurzweil 3000-Firefly is an easy to use, text-to-speech and study aid program that enhances reading and writing skills. MCLA currently has a site-wide license making this powerful software available to all current students, faculty and staff. This program is available on computers in the Freel Library and in the computer labs on campus. 
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a speech-to-text software that allows the user to dictate text and control the computer functions with their voice. With a software program such as this, typing isn't necessary and the user can do away with a keyboard. 
  • NVDA (non-visual desktop access reader) is a fast, functional and free, open-source, portable screen reader for Microsoft Windows. NVDA can also convert the text into braille if the computer user owns a device called a “braille display”.  
  • Read/Write is a text-to-speech program that has specialized dictionaries and word prediction features that can assist in writing papers and organizing. The free version provides text to speech and dual highlighting (yellow & blue) for any text on any website! 
  • Livescribe Smart Pen  is a multi-functional self-contained ink-pen that records everything one hears, says and writes, while linking the audio recordings to one’s notes in a specially designed notebook exclusive to smart pen users. MCLA currently has a loaner program for these pens. 
  • Frequency Modulation (FM) Systems are wireless listening devices that amplify speech to make it clearer and minimize background noise. With an FM system, the instructor wears a clip-on wireless transmitter microphone. The mic transmits their voice directly to a student’s personal speaker or earpiece. MCLA currently has a loaner program for these systems. 

Both MAC and Windows operating systems have a number of built in accessibility programs such as voice dictation.  These can be good alternatives to Kurzweil 3000 and Dragon and give students basic and FREE  starter resources that they can access anywhere! Students should meet with the Accessibility Specialist staff to discuss which form of technology would be appropriate as early as possible in the semester.   Training and demonstrations are provided by appointment, after an accommodation plan is established.

Helpful Links and Resources for Parents and prospective students

Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities This publication from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights is relevant to  any postsecondary student going to any college or university. Be familiar with the information in this booklet as you begin to look at colleges and universities for your student. 

Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities This booklet can give you more specific information about the types of assistance that are generally available to students with disabilities at the postsecondary level. 

Family Guide to Transition Services in Massachusetts,   Brought to you in partnership by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and the Federation for Children with Special Needs. 

make it mcla

Dear Prospective Student: The Office of Disability Resources understands that student's rights and responsibilities change considerably from high school to college. We want you to make a successful transition. We welcome prospective students with disabilities to schedule a meeting with us to discuss some very important transition items !

These include: 

  • What are the differences between IDEA nd ADAAA provisions?
  • When do I disclose my disability?
  • What type of documentation am I required to provide?
  • Will my IEP and individualized support carry over?
  • How do I request accommodations?

If you are interested in scheduling an early transition meeting with the Associate Director or Disability Resources, contact Cindy MacDonald at (413) 662-5314 or email

Additional Resources

Disability Resource Handbook (Word)

Disability Resource Handbook (PDF)