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Services, supports, or modifications that allow students with disabilities to have equity or a “level playing field” in higher education. Examples of academic accommodations include use of a notetaker in a lecture class, extended time on tests, or reading materials in alternate formats. Students may also need accommodations for residence halls, policies, dining services, extracurricular activities, internships, or other campus events and activities.
accessibility, accessible or access
When a campus says it is accessible for people with disabilities, that means it complies with legal requirements for access. Examples of this are physical accessibility of buildings, captioned movies, and online information accessible to people with screenreaders. Students should ask campuses about access, because “accessible” may not mean full access – it means compliance with legal requirements. Some campuses may also pride themselves in going beyond compliance and working toward full access and an improved campus climate (see definition of “campus climate” below).
alternate (or “alternative”) format
Written material such as books, articles, or tests that are provided in electronic or other accessible format. This is often provided to allow use of assistive technology such as a screen reader.
assistive technology
Technology that helps people with disabilities to participate in activities as independently as possible. This can include low-technology options such as timers or calculators, or more advanced technology such as computer software or communication devices.


campus climate
Factors that influence how the entire campus engages with disabilities. This includes, for example, coursework about the culture of disability, cross campus advisory groups that promote student diversity and inclusivity, and student lead disability organizations or cultural centers.
CART or C-Print
Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) or C-Print are referred to as real-time captioning. Transcriptionists (i.e., court reporters) provide a real-time text display of the spoken information in classroom or other settings.
course substitutions
Modifications in a campus course distribution requirement allowing a student with a disability to fulfill the requirement using a class or classes that are approved as alternatives. This typically refers to a substitution of a campus language learning or math course requirement.


disability accommodations and services
(See the definition for “Accommodations” above.)
disability-related programs and courses
Campus-based programs offering services beyond what a disability resource office would typically offer and often focused on one type of disability, such as autism or deafness. These may be simple programs offering tutoring or academic coaching for example, or comprehensive programs that have separate academic courses, housing options, and tuition fees on campus.
disability-related services
Services or supports that address some potential disability-based need (e.g., wheelchair repair services, peer mentoring) but are considered above and beyond the requirements of the ADA.
disability resource office
The office(s) or person(s) on campus that oversees campus accessibility efforts and is charged with coordinating or providing disability services and accommodations to students with disabilities. This database uses this term, but offices may also be called “Access Services,” or “Disability Services,” “Learning Centers,” or other titles. Some campuses do not have an office, but they should still have a contact for students to request disability services and accommodations.


eligible to receive services
Signifies that the student has completed the institution’s requirements for disclosing a disability, providing any required documentation of the disability, and completing any intake procedures such as meeting with a professional from the disability resource office to discuss accommodation needs. Also referred to as “registered to receive services.”


general campus resources
Includes any campus programs or services that have a disability focus, such as campus-based scholarships for students with disabilities or recreation programs that include wheelchair basketball.


medical leave
Campus policy that considers physical or psychological based needs for a student to be away from campus or miss classes for a defined period during an academic term. Policies vary widely by campus.


An academic accommodation that supports students with disabilities who encounter barriers to taking notes in class. This accommodation may be offered in a variety of different forms depending on campus procedures and include peer notetakers, copies of an instructors notes, use of a Smart Pen, etc.


priority registration
A programmatic accommodation that permits students with disabilities to register for courses early in the campus registration period. This accommodation is typically approved for students who have disability-based need for specific course selection, such allowing adequate time to travel between remote buildings or courses for a wheelchair user. When students have services that require advanced time to arrange (like Sign Language interpreters), this accommodation may be used in that situation, as well.
programmatic accommodations
This refers to accommodations that arise when a campus policy has a disparate impact on a student with a disability. It includes such academic considerations as course substitutions and reduced course load. It may also happen with other policies and programs on campus, as well.


An academic accommodation in which a person reads text aloud to an individual with a text-based disability, most typically a learning disability or sight impairment. This can be provided with a human reader, but is most often accommodated through the use of assistive technology that provides text to speech.
reduced courseload
Most campuses have specific requirements for the number of courses or credit hours a student must take each term to be considered a full-time student. For some students with disabilities this creates a barrier in terms of reasonable workload. The reduced course load accommodation allows the student to take fewer courses in a term and still be considered a full-time student.
registered to receive services
Signifies that the student has completed the institution’s requirements for disclosing a disability, providing required documentation of the disability, and completing any intake procedures such as meeting with a professional from the disability resource office to discuss accommodation needs. Also referred to as “eligible to receive services.”
residence hall accommodations
Housing requirements and options on college campuses may create unique barriers for students with disabilities. Accommodations are approved on a case-by-case basis. Examples include first floor location, accessible bathroom, air conditioning, flashing-light doorbells or door knockers, or no roommate.


This academic accommodation provides a person to write student responses during tests or transfer student responses to scantron (bubble) answer sheets. Alternatively, this accommodation is sometimes addressed through speech-to-text assistive technology.
sign language interpreters
This accommodation for communication barriers involves the provision of American Sign Language interpreters for classes, educational programs, and activities to assure students have access to the full range of educational programming.


test accommodations
These accommodations are designed to circumvent barriers in classroom, programming, or placement tests. They are approved on a case-by-case basis and often include such areas as extended time, distraction-reduced testing location, or alternate format.