Procedures for Requesting Academic Accommodations


Disability Services is responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations (academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services). This office is not responsible for advocating for the personal preferences of students. The goal of the accommodation process is to properly balance the interests of the student with those of the Institute. Additionally, this process attempts to ensure that student requests are considered in a manner which is both expedient and effective. The need for accommodations depends upon the student's disability and academic program, and because those factors may change during the course of a student's education at MIT, the student accommodation may be subject to review and adjustment from time to time. The determination of what specific accommodations will be provided is based upon an evaluation of the individual student's documentation, personal needs, and academic requirements. Reasonable requests are determined on the basis of legitimate documentation of a student's disability by a relevant professional; communication with the student and faculty member(s); the student's past academic accommodations history; accepted practices of service providers in higher education; and legal precedent. Accommodations that are judged to have a negative impact on the academic integrity of the educational program (e.g. those that would fundamentally alter the program of study) will not be honored.

Student Responsibilities

A student with a disability has certain rights under Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act including the right to reasonable accommodations that reduce the effects of a disability on accessing programs and services at MIT. With this right comes the responsibility to follow certain procedures developed by the Institute to ensure that reasonable requests for accommodations are addressed in an effective and timely manner. It is the student's responsibility to clearly identify who is arranging the logistics of the accommodations (i.e. the instructor, department, TA, or the Disability Services).

Students must request accommodations so that Disability Services is afforded a reasonable amount of time to review and evaluate the request and provide the necessary accommodations. See Information on Specific Accommodations for details on alternative exams, materials in alternative format, and instructional modification. If difficulties arise in obtaining accommodations or there are concerns related to this process, it is the student's responsibility to contact Disability Services and the relevant faculty member/instructor immediately.

Requesting Academic Accommodations

Accommodations may include, but are not limited to: additional time on exams; and accessing the exam through an alternative medium; note takers in class; and materials in an alternative format.

  • Students must provide Disability Services staff with documentation that a) identifies the disability and its functional limitations and b) specifies the requested accommodation(s).
  • The student must make an appointment with Disability Services staff to review the documentation provided and assist in determining appropriate accommodations. At that time, the student must complete a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form, which is required to begin receiving accommodations. Disability Services will provide assistance in completing forms if requested.
  • Disability Services will prepare an accommodation letter outlining the accommodations for which the student has been approved. The letters are prepared for specified faculty members/instructors who have been identified by the student. This letter will be based on the student's documentation and completed Reasonable Accommodation Request Form. Disability Services has identified an individual within each academic department who serves as a logistical coordinator/Disability Services liaison, assisting students and faculty with the implementation of accommodations. The student will receive an additional accommodation letter for the Department Logistical Coordinator for each course s/he has indicated on the Accommodation Form.
  • The student must make an appointment with each faculty member/instructor during office hours to provide them with the accommodation letter and discuss their accommodation needs. Students are strongly encouraged to interact directly with faculty/instructor regarding their accommodation needs. Additionally, the student must deliver an accommodation letter to the Department Logistical Coordinator.
  • If issues or problems arise during the planning stages of providing accommodations, the student and faculty member/logistical coordinator must contact the Disability Services staff immediately to resolve the problem. Disability Services will monitor the process by contacting the student and logistical coordinator approximately two weeks after pick-up of the accommodation letters. The message will:
    • A) Remind the student of the process.
    • B) Request that the student clearly identify who is arranging the logistics of the accommodations (i.e. the instructor, the department, or the Disability Services).
    • C) Request that the student alert Disability Services to any problems s/he is experiencing in accessing accommodations.
    • D) Remind the student to address the issue of exam accommodations with the faculty member and logistical coordinator at least two weeks in advance of each test.
  • Students must follow all accommodation procedures in order to acquire auxiliary aids and academic adjustments. The staff of Disability Services is available to explain the procedures and assist students as needed.
  • If at any time students feel their accommodation requests are not being fulfilled properly, the student should notify Disability Services immediately. If necessary, students may also file formal complaints. Copies of the Complaint Procedure, are available at Disability Services in 5-104.
  • What Disability Services does not directly provide - Disability Services will make every reasonable effort to fulfill accommodation requests made by students, as well as direct students to appropriate resources and services on and off the MIT Campus. However, instances may arise when certain accommodation requests cannot be fulfilled due to their nature. For example, the Institute generally will not provide untimed exams, personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, typists, readers or tutors for personal use or study (beyond the Institute's program), or other devices or services of a personal nature.

Confidentiality

The knowledge of a student's disability is confidential. Information is provided at the student's request or with a signed consent on a "need to know" basis only. This typically means that Disability Services will share information related to the student's accommodations requests for reasons directly related to the request or for personal safety. Please contact the Disability Services staff if further clarification is needed.

Requesting Exam Accommodations

The student's documentation must establish the need for alternative exams. Alternative exams will be scheduled at the specified Institute exam time for the class. Exceptions to this policy may apply where the accommodation requested cannot be provided at the specified exam time, or a change in the time of the exam is, in fact, the accommodation needed.

  • Students are advised to make an appointment to see faculty during faculty office hours to present them with the accommodation letter prepared by Disability Services. The student and faculty should then discuss the requested academic accommodations and exam accommodations outlined in the accommodation letter, to ensure a mutual understanding.
  • It is the student's responsibility to address the issue of exam accommodations with his/her faculty members two weeks before each exam date.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to verify, after discussions with faculty/instructor, whether the faculty member/instructor, department, or Disability Services will be providing requested exam accommodations.
  • The established procedure for exam accommodations is for the faculty member/instructor to arrange exams within the academic department in order to monitor the quality and fairness of the test accommodations. This may include arranging for a private room or the coordination of a proctor, reader, or scribe.
  • If the faculty member/instructor or department are unable to provide all or part of the requested accommodation, the student must inform Disability Services immediately that the department is unable to fulfill the request. The requested exam accommodation must reflect the agreed upon accommodation as outlined in the Accommodation Letter given to the faculty. Disability Services will work with the student and the department to arrange the exam accommodations. The student must communicate with Disability Services and the department in order to arrange the details of the exam logistics.
  • Prior to the exam date, the student requesting the exam accommodations should confirm all arrangements for the exam with the responsible party(s). This is essential for preventing a misunderstanding which could compromise receiving requested exam accommodations.

Requesting Note takers

  • MIT Disability Services employs a peer note taking system. The Disability Services accommodation letter, delivered by the student, through written notification, will inform the instructor that a student may need assistance in selecting a note taker.
  • The student with a disability will attempt to find someone in the class to take notes for him or her. If s/he does not succeed, the student may ask the faculty member to announce in class that there is a need for a note taker. Faculty members should protect the student's right to privacy by not offering her/his name to the class. Faculty may direct interested student note takers to contact our staff (x3-1674 or sds-all@mit.edu), SDS will provide a list of potential note takers to the student with a disability, who then may contact these individuals and assume responsibility for engaging one as a note taker. Students choosing to become note takers are paid by SDS at an hourly rate. Student note takers are paid by SDS for their services. Once a note taker is obtained, s/he should email SDS (sds-all@mit.edu) for payment procedures.
  • Disability Services can assist the student by providing tips on selecting an appropriate note taker. However, it is the student's responsibility to monitor note takers for accuracy and timely delivery of notes. Any discrepancies should be reported to Disability Services immediately. If a student needs assistance in this process, s/he should feel free to contact Disability Services.
  • If the student cannot find or maintain a note taker and the faculty member has made "a good faith effort" to facilitate the finding of one, it need not be the role of faculty to then assume this responsibility for making sure that the student has a note taker. Some faculty do assume this responsibility, but doing so is their choice.
    Student note takers are paid by Disability Services for their services. Once a note taker is obtained, s/he should email Disability Services office for payment procedures.
  • It is mandatory that students using note takers attend class. Note takers are not a substitution for the student's attendance. If a student is unable to attend class for an extended period of time, the note taker as well as Disability Services must be notified. Failure to do so may result in losing note taking privileges as a person with a disability who can't attend classes (even occasionally) may not be otherwise qualified to take the class