Accommodating Students with Disabilities: Process Overview


At Student Disability Services, also known as SDS, we consider faculty to be key partners in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for MIT students with disabilities. It is essential to know that these disabilities may be visible or invisible.

For example, when your student is in a wheelchair, you know that they are dealing with a disability. You may or may not know whether it’s permanent or temporary, but you can see that the student needs an accommodation, and that the wheelchair may be a part of that accommodation. 

But, it’s important to emphasize that most disabilities are much less obvious.  Your students may have visual impairments, partial or complete hearing loss, learning disabilities, psychiatric conditions, chronic health problems, or some combination of these.  They may be on the autism spectrum or may have Attention Deficit Disorder.  While you may observe symptoms of what they are experiencing, you often can’t see their disability. 

At SDS, we work with faculty and staff to ensure that MIT students with disabilities have equal access to all of the Institute’s programs, activities, and services.  Of course, it is especially important to make sure that all MIT students have equal access to academic resources.

Here’s the process used at MIT to ensure access to academic resources for students with disabilities.

In the case of students who have a diagnosis, this is determined by a medical provider who conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the student.

SDS then engages in an interactive process with the student: reviewing documentation, taking into account the legal parameters of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and considering current best practices in the field.

Once accommodations are determined, we provide the student with a letter that describes the specific needs for accommodation.

We then advise the student to make an appointment to speak privately with each of their faculty, and to present the accommodation letter at that meeting.  At this time, the student and faculty member should discuss the accommodations that the letter outlines.

If you need help implementing the logistics of the accommodation of a student, then we recommend that you work with your department’s Disability Services Liaison. Your Disability Services Liaison is often your department’s academic administrator. Every department has one, and these staff are very helpful in making arrangements that can accommodate the student’s needs, while maintaining the integrity of the academic program.

Faculty are also very welcome to contact Student Disability Services with any questions. Call us at 617-253-1674 or email us at SDS-all@mit.edu. SDS looks forward to working with you in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for MIT students with disabilities.