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
  • electronic text formats of textbooks provided by the publishers
  • part-time study with eligibility for TAP funds as a part-time student

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.

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 the accessibility staff 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:

  • part-time New York State TAP eligibility
  • part-time New York State Excelsior Scholarship 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 university 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. Once the office has received a request for accommodations, staff will respond will to respond to the student's request within five business days to set up a telephone or a virtual meeting.  

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

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, or you may contact the accessibility resources staff at:

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