Peer Support




In the fall of 2006, ODS launched the E-Mentors Program in which incoming students with disabilities are matched with current students with disabilities for informal/online networking and peer support. Disability categories for E-Mentors include: ADD/ADHD, chronic medical conditions, hearing impairments, learning disabilities (LD), mobility impairments, psychiatric disabilities and visual impairments.
All students who have self-identified a disability (either in the admissions process and/or via the ODS Needs Assessment Form included in the Barnard online matriculationpacket) will receive a *Welcome to Barnard* letter during the summer prior to their matriculation—and are given the name and email address of an E-Mentor with a similar disability. Incoming students may then choose to contact their E-Mentor re: any questions they may have prior to their arrival on campus. In order to respect the confidentiality of our new students, ODS *does not* provide our E-Mentors with the names of any of our new self-identified students with disabilities. When new students register with ODS at any time during the academic year, they may also choose to be assigned an E-mentor.
If you would like to participate in the E-Mentors Program—either as a mentor or a mentee (recipient of an E-Mentor), please send an email to Carolyn Corbran, Director of Disabilty Services at We welcome your interest, involvement and participation.    

ODS 4/12


Disability Self-ID Statements

All students with disabilities who are registered with ODS are expected to self-identify to their professors during the first two weeks of each semester.  Here are several sample templates to provide you with some ideas in developing your own statement.

I have a seizure disorder

Telephone Number
Email Address

I have epilespy, with a history of partial-complex seizures. I take xx of Tegretol XR a day.

Emergency Contacts

Carolyn Corbran (or Angelene)
Office of Disability Services
008 Milbank (@ Barnard)

Contact #3
Telephone Number

Contact #2
Telephone Number

Contact #4
Telephone Number

You will know I am having a seizure when:

  • I make a sort of guttural voice
  • my eyes roll back into my head
  • my head and arms begin to convulse; my legs/the rest of my body may also convulse (I probably won't flail wildly- the convulsions should be relatively mild.)
  • What should you do when I have a seizure:
  • I will fall, so it is best if I am lying down on the floor where I can't fall any lower. If possible, lie me down on the floor.
  • Clear away chairs or anything that I could hit with my flailing arms/body.
  • You do not need to insert anything in my mouth. Not even a wooden spoon. I promise I will not swallow my tongue.
  • The seizure should only last for 1-3 minutes, possibly less. You do not need to call an ambulance or CAVA unless the seizure lasts for 4-5 minutes or more.

After the seizure:

  • Call the disability office. Hopefully, someone from there will come and get me. Or, call my emergency contacts (above), and ask if they can come pick me up.
  • During the seizure, I will lose consciousness. When the seizure is over and I regain consciousness, I will be very confused.
  • I will not remember the seizure, where I am, who I am, who you are, etc. It will help if you tell me that I have just had a seizure, and where I am. (I will also not know my phone number, where I live, etc.) Just tell me what's going on simply. It would be especially nice if you tell me that "everything's going to be OK."
  • I may be unable to talk or move at first. If this is the case, I should be able to talk and move within 10-20 minutes.
  • Most likely, after a few minutes, I will be able to stand up and walk with help. If someone is willing, a student can take me outside of the classroom to wait for whoever can come to get me. It is best if someone stays with me. (I will not be completely with it/conscious. I have been known to wander around, climb stairs, walk into other buildings or the street, etc. after seizures.)
  • If no one is available to pick me up, then you can call CAVA or security or an ambulance (not all three). Otherwise, please do not call CAVA or an ambulance.

I have a hearing impairment

Things to know about my disability:

  • If you have notes that I could make a copy of, it would be very helpful; because I read lips, I miss everything that is said when I am not looking.
  • Please do not call on me in class (especially when I am taking notes); because of my disability I often get lost in oral conversation with more than one person, and I get really embarrassed if I did not hear what was said or asked.  If there is a participation requirement for the class, it would be wonderful if I could meet with you one-on-one outside of class.
  • I do not always spell correctly (I cannot tell the difference between the sounds of similar letters), but I have a plan: All of my papers will be proofread; for exams, professors often have me take the exam home, type it, and e-mail it back, or I could read it to you.
  • I read lips, and I can not if your mouth is covered or you are facing a wall/board.
  • I have extended time on exams: time + 1.5.
  • Sometimes if I get sick fluid builds up in my ear canal, and I can hear almost nothing.  If this happens, I will let you know.
  • I recognize my speech is very good, because of many years of speech therapy, and it is easy to forget I am hearing impaired.


  • I am mean, rude, or ignoring you intentionally.
  • I am dumb.
  • I am trying to make my professors' jobs more difficult.

Some additional information:

  • Devices I have used in past classes and may at some point use in your class: remote captioning (CART), note takers, seat reserves, FM systems, and hearing aids.
  • Aids I may try in the future: a hearing dog to alert me to alarms (because I can't hear fire alarms) and when people say my name the dog will nudge me to get my attention.
  • Goals: to become a lawyer and help children with disabilities get their accommodations in schools.
  • Captions on TV and in films are very helpful.

I am very open about my disability and am happy to answer any questions.

Thank you for signing my TAF form and for your understanding.


An Excerpt from My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

Appendix B

Forty Things I Needed the Most

  1. I am not stupid, I am wounded.  Please respect me.
  2. Come close, speak slowly, and enunciate clearly.
  3. Repeat yourself -- assume I know nothing and start from the beginning, over and over.
  4. Be as patient with me the 20th time you teach me something, as you were the first.
  5. Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down.  Take your time.
  6. Be aware of what your body language and facial expressions are communicating to me.
  7. Make eye contact with me.  I am here -- come find me.  Encourage me.
  8. Please don't raise your voice -- I'm not deaf, I'm wounded.
  9. Touch me appropriately and connect with me.
  10. Honor the healing power of sleep.
  11. Protect my energy.  No talk radio, TV, or nervous visitors!  Keep visitation brief (five minutes).
  12. Stimulate my brain when I have any energy to learn something new, but know that a small amount may wear me out quickly.
  13. Use age-appropriate (toddler) educational toys and books to teach me.
  14. Introduce me to the world kinesthetically.  Let me feel everything.  (I am an infant again.)
  15. Teach me with money-see, monkey-do behavior.
  16. Trust that I am trying -- just not with your skill level or on your schedule.
  17. Ask me multiple-choice questions.  Avoid Yes/No questions.
  18. Ask me questions with specific answers.  Allow me time to hunt for an answer.
  19. Do not assess my cognitive ability by how fast I can think.
  20. Handle me gently, as you would handle a newborn.
  21. Speak to me directly, not about me to others.
  22. Cheer me on.  Expect me to recover completely, even if it takes twenty years!
  23. Trust that my brain can always continue to learn.
  24. Break all actions down into smaller steps of action.
  25. Look for what obstacles prevent me from succeeding on a task.
  26. Clarify for me what the next level or step is so I know what I am working toward.
  27. Remember that I have to be proficient at one level of function before I can move on to the next level.
  28. Celebrate all of my little successes.  They inspire me.
  29. Please don't finish my sentences for me or fill in words I can't find.  I need to work my brain.
  30. If I can't find an old file, make it a point to create a new one.
  31. I may want you to think I understand more than I really do.
  32. Focus on what I can do rather than bemoan what I cannot do.
  33. Introduce me to my old life.  Don't assume that because I cannot play like I used to play that I won't continue to enjoy music or an instrument, etc.
  34. Remember that in the absence of some functions, I have gained other abilities.
  35. Keep me familiar with my friends, family, and loving support.  Build a collage wall of cards and photos that I can see.  Label them so I can review them. 
  36. Call in the troops!  Create a healing team for me.  Send word out to everyone so they can send me love.  Jeep them abreast of my condition and ask them to do specific things to support me -- like visualize me being able to swallow with ease or rocking my body up into a sitting position.
  37. Love me for who I am today.  Don't hold me to being the person I was before.  I have a different brain now.
  38. Be protective of me but do not stand in the way of my progress.
  39. Show me old video footage of me doing things to remind me about how I spoke, walked, and gestured.
  40. Remember that my medications probably make me tired, as well as mask my ability to know what it feels like to be me.

Living with Chronic Illness Support Group

Aashima Kapoor '10 invites all students with chronic illnesses to join the "Coping with Chronic Illness: Life Support". "One of the hardest things about living with a chronic illness is the sense of isolation it creates. My hope is that this support group will lessen the isolation by providing a forum in which we can exchange stories, advice, and strageties from our diverse experiences of living with a chronic illness. The support group will provide a confidential, supportive environment for us to talk about the logistics, decisions, and emotions that accompany having a chronic illness. If there is adequate interest we, as a group, could engage in fundraising activities for various illnesses of our choice, bring in alumna or other guest speakers to address living with chronic illess beyond Barnard, or simply find empowerment and community in what can be an upsetting, depleting part of our lives. For the purposes of this group, chronic illness will be defined as any illness (both psychiatric and medical) that presents physical and/or emotional challenges on a daily basis. There is currently no time or place scheduled for the first meeting, but if you are interested, please send me an email at with your availability or any questions.

Based on student interest and scheduling, the "Living with Chronic Illness Group" meets on a weekly basis in the Furman Counseling Center. There was no group in 2007-2008, but if interested for 2008-2009, contact Morgan Murray in ODS.

The Chronic Illness Support Group was the original idea of Becca Mueller '03. This was the invitational letter sent to all registered ODS students when the group was launched in 2001.

I’m Becca Mueller ’03, and I invite you to participate in "Coping with a Chronic Illness: Days of Patience and Passion: A Support Group for Barnard Students with Chronic Illnesses." For me, one of the hardest things about living with a chronic illness is the sense of isolation that it creates. I think that the support group will lessen the isolation by providing a forum in which we can exchange stories, advice, and strategies from our diverse experiences of living with chronic illness.

The support group, as I envision it, will provide a confidential, supportive environment for us to talk about the logistics, decisions, and emotions that accompany having a chronic illness. If there is adequate interest, we, as a group, could form a team to participate in local fund-raisers for different illnesses of our choice, finding empowerment and community in what can be an upsetting, depleting part of our lives.

The group is co-facilitated by Jeannie Blaustein and Alex Pieterse from the Barnard Counseling Service.  The group meets on Fridays at 3pm in 102 Hewitt. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. To sign up for the group please contact Jeannie Blaustein at and let her know of your interest.

Becca Mueller

BAID Network

The BAID (Barnard Alumnae Involved with Disabilities) Network is a mentoring project jointly coordinated by the Offices of Alumnae Affairs, Career Development and Disability Services to enable current Barnard students with disabilities to meet and/or talk with disabled alumnae from a wide variety of fields. The BAID Network also serves to expand our directory of information on disability services and the availability of accommodations in graduate and professional schools.

* The BAID is a confidential network open to alumnae as well as current students with disabilities.

Click here complete the BAID Network Form Online. Once completed, please email to