Accommodations: An Overview

An accommodation is a modification to a program, tasks or event that allows an individual with a disability to fully participate.

In higher education, we use the term ‘reasonable accommodation’, which typically includes the use of auxiliary resources, such as note takers, extended time and interpreters. Accommodations must be effective to ensure equal access, but may not reduce program standards or present an undue financial or administrative burden to the institution.

All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to ensuring equal access.

Common accommodations include:

  • extended time for individual assignments as needed. Does not include discussions or group assignments; does not guarantee or obligate instructors to grant incompletes at the end of a term
  • support for residencies and study groups, i.e., note takers or tape recorders
  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for residencies and study groups
  • audio books borrowed from Learning Ally
  • electronic text formats of textbooks provided by the publishers
  • part-time study with eligibility for TAP funds as a part-time student
  • access to the center's assistive technology.

The first question you should ask yourself when determining what accommodations to request is, "How am I struggling in my studies?"

The answer usually will lead you to the modifications you need to accommodate your disability. You can read a more detailed description of ‘Determining the Functional Limitations of Your Disability’ in this student handbook.

Your center's disability representative or the disability specialist also can talk with you about your disability and accommodations that you have used in the past, if any. If you still are having difficulty determining which accommodations may be appropriate for you, or if your center disability representative determines that more information is needed when reviewing your request for accommodations, you will be required to provide documentation of your disability to the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services so that staff can review your documentation and recommend reasonable accommodations.

Documentation is required for accommodations for:

  • Reader's Aid Funds application
  • part-time TAP eligibility
  • alternatively formatted text books, i.e., e-text from the publishers or audio books

Read more about Documentation in this student handbook.

Timing for Requests

  • While accommodations can be requested at any point during the term, it is beneficial to request accommodations at least three weeks prior to the start of the term.
  • Certain accommodation requests, such as text in alternative formats, take longer to process than others. Also, accommodations are not retroactive.
  • The law does not require the college to provide accommodations for study activities and assignments that have already been completed.

Requesting accommodations in advance allows sufficient time for review and notification of your instructors. Disability representatives will respond to the student's request within five business days. This response generally will be the notification of approved accommodations, but it may also be a referral to the Office of Collegewide Disability

Read Register with Disability Services and Request Accommodations for a review of the disability disclosure and request for accommodations process.

Informal Modifications: When is it official?

  • You may be able to work out informal modifications directly between yourself and a mentor; however, this informal discussion with the mentor does not constitute official notification to the college of the need for disability-related accommodations.
  • Modifications to the study become official accommodations when the student has declared his or her disability by submitting the Disability Declaration and Request for Accommodations form to the center disability representative or Office of Accessibility Resources and Services. This is the process by which the student formally notifies the college of his or her need for reasonable accommodations.

Often, official accommodations are the same measures that would have been taken had the student chosen to work directly with the mentor. However, officially notifying the college of a student’s need for accommodations has benefits for the student:

  • mentors and tutors will be notified of the need for accommodations for future enrollments
  • the student will not have to renegotiate accommodations with each new mentor or tutor
  • officially disclosing a disability obligates the college to provide reasonable accommodations at all sites and in all programs; responsibility to ensure that approved accommodations are being provided now rests with the college.

Return to Student Handbook or continue to Accommodations for Online Courses.

Contact us

If you have any questions related to disability services, you can find additional information on the community resources and frequently asked questions pages, contact your local disability representative or:

Andrea Piazza, Disability Specialist
Office of Accessibility Resources and Services
Phone: 800-847-3000, ext. 2244
Fax: 518-584-3098
NYS Relay Service 800-421-1220

Melissa Zgliczynski, Director
Office of Accessibility Resources and Services
Phone: 800-847-3000, ext. 2244
Fax: 518-584-3098
NYS Relay Service 800-421-1220