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Contact Information
Student Accessibility Resources
Panama City Campus, McSpadden Student Union East
5230 West U.S. Highway 98
Panama City, FL 32401
Phone: 850.747.3243
Fax: 850.767.8034

New Student Information

Self-Identification is important as you enter college, otherwise you risk not receiving the support needed for academic success while in school. If you are on an IEP/504 Plan, or have been recently diagnosed with a disability you should self-identify to the Student Accessibility Resources (SAR) Department to discuss your disability.  Accommodations that will remove barriers on campus and in the classroom will be assigned once you self-identify. It is recommended to begin the self-identifying process directly after being admitted to the College to ensure that accommodations are in place for the upcoming semester.

Services and support are free to GCSC students and are used to remove barriers at our institution. You should apply for services after receiving notification of acceptance to the College.

To apply, follow these steps:

  • Apply and receive confirmation of acceptance to Gulf Coast State College.
  • Make an appointment with Leigh Bailey to register for classes or receive help from GCSC's Navigation Center.
  • Apply to receive Accommodations with the Student Accessibility Resources (SAR) Department. 

(You will be required to attach schedule as well as any and all documentation/paperwork regarding your disability.)

  • Schedule an appointment with the SAR Department (850.747.3243) to go over, sign, and agree to all terms of accommodation plan.
  • Notify professor(s) for each course electronically if expecting to receive accommodations.
    • The SAR department encourages students to set up a time to speak with professors about accommodations.

Each semester, SAR students are required to renew with the Student Accessibility Resource Department.

For more information on documentation guidelines and resources, please visit the SAR Forms webpage.

Talk to Your Professors

Although there are more students with disabilities in postsecondary education today than ever before, it is very possible that there are situations in which College instructors have had little experience with students with disabilities. Also, you could have difficulty advocating for yourself to express your needs.

Strategies to use when talking to your professors:

Be prepared!
  • Practice what you are going to say and be open about your needs.
Don't procrastinate!
  • Make an appointment to talk with your instructor(s) as soon as you realize that you may need accommodations. Adjustments and accommodations need to be planned as early as possible, especially when it involves testing.
Self-Identify to your Instructors!
  • On your electronic Semester Form, select the Instructors that you want notified of your accommodations.  If you do not select them, they will not be notified!
  • When problems arise, contact the Coordinator of SAR as soon as possible. In most situations, you and the instructor will work out the provision of accommodations in a way that is agreeable to all parties involved. If you have difficulties working this out, contact SAR.

Other Tips for Self Advocacy:

  • Know and understand your rights and responsibilities.
  • Ask questions whenever you need clarification.
  • Repeat a question until it is satisfactorily answered.
  • Keep a "paper trail" of all written communication regarding your education. It is appropriate to request copies of all records and documentation.
  • Remember that you are an equal partner in your education.
  • Let people know that you intend to work to resolve issues.
  • Learn all you can about your disability including your needs, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Know what resources are available and use them.
  • Know who the key people are. Find the right person with whom to talk, and try all avenues.
  • Praise and thank people when appropriate.

General Rule

The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulates disclosure of disability documentation and records maintained by SAR. SAR requires prior written consent by the student before SAR may release disability documentation or records to any third party.

Exception to the Rule

Under FERPA, SAR is permitted to release information to any school official who has a "legitimate educational interest."

What Does this Mean?

Professors or other school officials, such as tutors, may request information about the impact of your disability on your ability to learn. SAR will only share information with other school officials when appropriate and will carefully balance a your request for confidentiality and the request for additional, relevant information. SAR seeks to preserve your wish to keep their disability information and status confidential.

Other Student's Rights Under FERPA

FERPA also allows students to inspect and review their files maintained by SAR. Students have the right to challenge any information contained in the files that is incorrect or misleading and request an amendment to this misinformation. 


Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 Plans are the common use of accommodation and goal setting plans in primary and secondary educational settings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Under these provisions, K-12 schools set up accommodations for students with disabilities a Placement/Planning/Action Team made up of school teachers, counselors and parents. Students are rarely involved in the planning of their accommodations and accommodations are automatic from year to year until graduation.

However, in a postsecondary institutional setting such as college, the planning and advocacy becomes the student's role and accommodations must be requested each semester. Postsecondary institutions follow Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended in 2008 (ADAAA) as guidance for access and inclusion. 

High School College
Services provided under IDEA or Section 504. Services provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and The Americans with Disabilities Act.
School district responsible for identifying and evaluating disability at no cost to student or family.

Student must self-identify and provide documentation of disability.

Student must pay costs of evaluation.

College is responsible for costs involved in providing accommodations and/or essential auxiliary aids; student needs based on documentation of disability.

High School College

Special education teacher is liaison and buffer between student, other teachers, administrators and parents.

The decision to receive accommodations is made by educators and parents. Students have little or no choice

Student is responsible for self-advocacy. Student can choose not to seek services and accommodations and can choose to function independently.

Student must self-identify disability and request services from college.

Student is required to provide recent documentation (less than 3 years old) of disability. Documentation must clearly support requested accommodations.
Help is readily available.

Student must independently seek help using effective communication skills.

Services must be requested well in advance (for example, you cannot wait until the day of a test to ask for accommodations).
Student is labeled as special education student. Student is NOT labeled or serviced separately from other students.
Student is possibly served separately from other students.

Other students and faculty members will not know about the student’s disability.

Faculty members are only notified of required accommodations.
Personnel talk freely with parent about student progress and planning. Personnel cannot discuss student without student’s written permission.
Gulf Coast State College does not discriminate against any person in its programs, activities, policies or procedures on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, marital status, religion, age, gender, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, disability, or veteran status. All questions or inquiries regarding compliance with laws relating to non-discrimination and all complaints regarding sexual misconduct or discrimination, may be directed to Lee Wood, Executive Director, Human Resources/Title II/504/Title IX Coordinator and Employment Equity Officer, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 W. US Highway 98, Panama City, FL 32401.