Students' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1.  What does the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) do?

The Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) is Southern Miss’s designated office to verify students’ eligibility for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ODA assists eligible students on an individual basis to develop and coordinate plans for the implementation of reasonable accommodations that are specific to their disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are offered in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


2.  What disabilities are covered?

The Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) assists students with learning disabilities (reading writing and math), mobility impairments, systemic or chronic illnesses and injuries, psychiatric impairments (including anxiety and depression), ADHD or ADD, hearing impairments, visual impairments, temporary disabilities and pregnancies. 


3.  What should I know when applying to the University of Southern Mississippi? Are there any special procedures?

Students with disabilities must apply for admission to USM through the regular admissions procedure. There are no special admissions procedures to register with ODA. The Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) can answer general questions but for specific entrance requirements, please contact the Admissions office at 601.266.5000 or admissions@usm.edu.


4.  As a Gulf Coast or online student, may I receive disability accommodations?

Yes, both Gulf Coast and online students may receive accommodation from the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA). Please see questions number five (5) for how to request accommodations.


5.  How do I request accommodations for my disability?

To request accommodations for your disability, please complete the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) Online Application (https://cascade.accessiblelearning.com/usm/ApplicationStudent.aspx).

In addition to completing the online application, students must provide documentation of your disability to our office. This may be uploaded online when completing the application, delivered via email to oda@usm.edu, delivered via fax to 601.266.6035, delivered in person to the ODA offices on the Hattiesburg campus, Bond Hall, room 114, or mailed to 118 College Drive, Box #8586, Hattiesburg, MS 39406. For more information on documentation, please see question number seven (7) and question number eight (8).


6.  When should I register with the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA)?

Students may register with ODA at any time during their academic career at USM. Students must first be fully enrolled at USM. It is recommended that incoming freshmen and transfer students register with ODA before their first semester classes begin.


7.  What is acceptable documentation?

Documentation should be current and from a certified physician, psychologist or psychiatrist. Generally, a letter sent from your primary physician stating your diagnosis, how it affects your life, and suggested accommodations is acceptable.

Please note that if you have a learning disability in reading, writing or math, we will need your evaluation test results and your diagnosis. All costs incurred in obtaining medical documentation is the responsibility of the student.


8.  I received accommodations in K-12 or I had an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). May I use the IEP as documentation?

The IEP is a valuable resource of information, but it is recommended that other forms of documentation be obtained.  Please contact ODA if clarification is needed.


9.  What role do my parents play in the process?

Students who are 18 years old or older are legally recognized as adults. In this case, the student is responsible for their own accommodation requests and disability-related decisions. However, students are encouraged to have an open dialog with their parents. Parents can be a wonderful source of support.


10.   What kinds of accommodations are available?

Academic accommodations include, but are not limited to, exam modifications like extended test-taking time, ASL interpreters, notetaking services, readers, alternative formats of course materials, preferential seating and assistive technology. ODA also assists students with accessible housing.


11.  Do I need to register with the Office for Disability Accommodations if I don't want any accommodations?

Registration for disability accommodations is optional for students. However, ODA encourages students with disabilities who feel they need accommodations to register as soon as possible.


12.  How do I log into my account on myODA?

You can log into your myODA account at https://cascade.accessiblelearning.com/usm/default.aspx using your student ID # (w123456 or w12345678) and your SOAR password. If you have forgotten your SOAR password, please reset at CampusID (https://campusid.usm.edu/). If you have any further technical issues logging into your myODA account, please contact ODA at 601.266.5024 or oda@usm.edu.


13.   How does my disability and accommodations information remain confidential?

The Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) respects students’ privacy and to keep information related to students’ disability confidential. Communication with other campus offices or instructors is limited to providing guidance on how to implement approved accommodations. With a student’s permission or request, ODA will consult with parents, spouses, faculty, staff and relevant professionals. ODA does not disclose information about a student’s disability or the nature of the disability unless the student specifically requests ODA to do so. Student records are kept electronically encrypted and also in locked file cabinets, where only authorized ODA personnel has access.


14.   How and when are my professors notified of my accommodations?

The professors are notified via an emailed letter of accommodation.  The letter contains all of the approved accommodations. If you are registered with ODA, letters are sent before the start of the semester.  If you register after the beginning of the semester, your letters of accommodation will be sent after your intake interview which completes your registration. You will also receive copies of the emails sent to your professors.  These can be found on your USM email account (@usm.edu).

If you believe that a letter was not sent to your professor or your professor says that they have not received your letter, please contact our offices immediately at 601.266.5024 or oda@usm.edu.


15.   Can the Office for Disability Accommodations excuse absences?

No, professors set their own attendance policies, and class attendance is an expectation of Southern Miss students. A statement regarding consideration for disability-related absences or tardiness may be added to your letter of accommodations, but it is only to alert the instructor that the student may have to miss class.  Class attendance policies are determined by the department or the instructor of record.   

If you are absent due to your disability, please contact USM’s Student Ombudsman. This office will authenticate your doctor’s excuse and provide official Notices of Absences to your professors. Your professor will make the final decision regarding the Notice of Absence. To reach USM’s Student Ombudsman, please contact their office at 601.266.4025 or e-mail them at oda@usm.edu.


16.   How do I become a volunteer note taker?

If the professor has asked your class for a volunteer note taker, please let them know that you would like to volunteer and complete this form: Note Taker Online Registration Form (https://cascade.accessiblelearning.com/usm/ApplicationNotetaker.aspx).


17.    Where is the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) located?

ODA’s offices are located on the Hattiesburg campus on the first floor of Bond Hall in room 114. You should enter the office via an accessible wheelchair ramp on the south side of the building which faces the parking lot behind the Bobby Chain Building. You may also enter our offices through the entrance on the north side the building facing the 4th Street parking garage. There is an accessible wheelchair ramp and also stairs at the north side entrance.


18.  When is the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) open?

ODA is open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. ODA is closed for university holidays. To access this schedule, please go the Holiday Schedule outlined on this web page: https://www.usm.edu/employment-hr/2017-holiday-schedule


Have a question not addressed on this page?

Please contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) at: 
601.266.5024 - Hattiesburg Office
228.214.3232 - Gulf Coast Office
1.800.582.2233 - TTY through Mississippi Relay Service for individuals with hearing impairments
oda@usm.edu - Email Address for all locations