What is the purpose of Student Accessibility Services?
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) provides accommodations for students with disabilities, allowing them to take full advantage of their Emerson College experience. We also promote awareness through trainings and support to the Emerson community with the goal of ensuring that students with disabilities are included in the College’s overall mission of Inclusive Excellence and are provided access within the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We are located on the 5th floor of 216 Tremont Street. Feel free to contact us or stop by with any questions or to learn more about the office.
What types of accommodations are available?
Students request a range of accommodations which are mostly academic and housing related. Examples of common academic accommodations include extended time for exams, use of laptop/tablet in class, and approval to record lectures in class. Common housing accommodation requests include single room, on-campus housing, or to be released from the housing contract. Students may als* request dining accommodations and social support.
How do I request academic accommodations?
To request an academic accommodation, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Fill out and submit an Initial Request for Accommodations Form.
- Submit documentation that confirms your diagnosis and supports a connection between disability and requested accommodation(s)
- Participate in an interactive interview that will allow us to learn more about your needs and nature of your request. You can schedule an interview by contacting SAS or by contacting the staff member who will be handling your request. This interview can take place in person or by phone/Skype depending on your location and preferences.
- After reviewing your request and supporting documentation, a SAS staff member will determine whether you are eligible to receive the requested accommodation or an alternative one. Discussion of the accommodations for which you are approved and the next steps in the process is a part of the interactive process.
- The next step is to meet with a SAS staff member and receive letters to distribute to your professors. These letters will outline your accommodations and give the professors other relevant details. We do not include your diagnoses in the letters unless specifically requested to do so.
- You’ll need to request letters each semester; they don’t carry over to new courses and professors.
How do I request housing accommodations?*
To request a housing accommodation, you’ll need to complete the following three steps:
- Download the Housing Request Informaltion Packet and fill out the included Housing Accommodation Form.
- Submit documentation that confirms your diagnosis, describes why the request is medically necessary, and provides an explanation that connects the disability to the request.
- Participate in an interactive interview during which we can learn more about your needs and nature of your request. You can schedule an interview by contacting SAS or by contacting the staff member who will be handling your request.
*Students must be mindful of all deadlines for housing accommodation requests. SAS may not be able to accommodate late requests depending on availability and nature of request.
Who determines whether an accommodation request is approved?
For academic accommodation requests, typically your designated disability services staff member will evaluate your request. He or she may communicate with you to find a reasonable alternative if needed.
Housing requests are evaluated by SAS staff members and appropriate campus partners such as staff in ECAPS and the Center for Health and Wellness. It may be necessary to bring in more campus partners to review cases depending on the nature of the request. The review process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks depending on factors such as nature of request, request deadlines, time of year, etc. When a housing request is approved by SAS, please be aware that the Office of Housing and Residence Life (OHRL) may at times have space limitations, which can impact how quickly the accommodation can be implemented.
What if my accommodation request has been denied?
Generally, requests are denied because there was not sufficient evidence provided to show that the requested accommodation was necessary or because the requested accommodation was determined to not be reasonable.
If you would like to appeal the decision, you may do so by contacting SAS within 10 business days with a letter explaining the reason for your appeal. Appeals will be considered when they address a) a lack of fairness in the procedures or process that may alter the outcome; or (b) significant new information (previously unknown or not shared as part of the request process) which materially alters the facts of the request and may alter the outcome.
If I have a documented disability, am I required to seek accommodations?
No. Emerson students with disabilities are not required to register with SAS; but in order to receive accommodations, they must self-identify to SAS and request them. Our philosophy is that students are independent and self-determined, and that students with disabilities – just like all students – have control over their lives at Emerson and are responsible for making their own decisions. If you do anticipate that you may need accommodations for your disability, we encourage you to come to SAS as early in the semester as possible to discuss possible accommodations.
Will my professors know the details of my disability?
No. The accommodation letter that your SAS staff member will give you to deliver to your professor only states that you have a disability and therefore are entitled to accommodations; it generally does not include any details of your disability. If, however, you feel that it would be helpful for your professor to know some information about your disability, SAS can include that information in your accommodation letter. SAS will never release any information about your disability without your written consent.
What if I'm not sure if I have a disability or if I am entitled accommodations?
You may schedule a meeting with a SAS staff member to discuss your challenges to determine the next course of action. We do not provide diagnostic services or conduct evaluations, but we can provide referrals for agencies that will do so. We may also provide you with tools/resources that can help you minimize your challenges.
Do I need to request accommodations every semester/year?
You will need to meet with your designated SAS staff member every semester for accommodation letters. Generally, you will not need to submit new documentation but will be asked to provide any relevant updates. You will need new letters every semester, as you will have new professors and your accommodation needs may change.
For housing, you need to request your accommodation request every year. We may request current documentation/interview if needed. If you receive an accommodation, it does not guarantee you will be approved for the same accommodation the following year. SAS collaborates with the OHRL to meet students’ needs in balance with space considerations in the residence halls.
Is it possible to request accommodations if I am studying at Kasteel Well or Los Angeles?
Yes, we can work with you on accommodation requests made remotely, however please be aware that not every accommodation is available at Kasteel or ELA. SAS will work with the appropriate campus partners to ensure that you receive the necessary approved accommodations. Please be sure to contact us in advance to allow for ample time to make any necessary adjustments for accommodations.
Is it possible to request accommodations for temporary conditions/illnesses or injuries?
SAS is not required under the ADA to assist students with temporary disabilities such as injury, psychological trauma, or short-term illness. However, on a case-by-case basis, we sometimes provide accommodations to such students. Documentation is still required. SAS will evaluate the documentation to determine whether the condition qualifies for accommodations and what accommodations can be arranged.
Do you provide tutoring support/services?
No, but SAS works closely with the Lacerte Family Writing and Academic Resource Center (WARC). The WARC provides writing consultants, as well as academic success consultants, and peer tutors. They provide time management/organizational instruction and more. We are on the same floor (216 Tremont Street, 5th Floor) as the WARC, so we can help connect you with their services. If you’d like to reach out to them directly, you can call them at (617) 824-7874 or visit their website.
I received accommodations in high school. Will these accommodations translate to college?
Not necessarily. Please refer to this helpful handout which outlines the differences between high school/college in terms of legality, responsibility, and process. You may also reach out to SAS with any questions and/or to initiate the accommodation request process.