Carnegie Mellon University

Policy on Student Accommodations

The Office of Disability Resources is responsible for:

  • Providing reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and auxiliary aids and services (collectively “accommodations”) to students with disabilities, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other applicable federal, state and local laws. The objective is to ensure that the university’s programs and services are accessible to students with disabilities.
  • Ensuring that the university makes final decisions regarding all requests for accommodations, through an interactive process with students. This deliberative and interactive process involves both the student requesting the accommodation and staff members in the Office of Disability Resources, as well as academic advisers, faculty members and outside experts, if and as necessary.
  • Ensuring that decisions regarding student requests for accommodations are sufficiently documented and communicated to students. For each student who submits such a request, the Office of Disability Resources will develop an Accommodation Plan that documents, among other things, each request, whether the request was approved or denied, and the reasons why any request is denied.
  • The right to have accessible courses, programs, services and activities
  • The right to request reasonable accommodations
  • The right to receive accommodations as approved by the Office of Disability Resources  in a timely and effective manner
  • The right to file a grievance
  • Meet the qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards for academic performance and conduct
  • Self-identify with the Office of Disability Resources and request accommodations
  • Provide appropriate documentation of a disability and functional limitations arising from the disability
  • Follow established university procedures for obtaining accommodations
  • Meet with the Office of Disability Resources to review accommodations
  • Notify the Office of Disability Resources of any difficulties in securing reasonable accommodations or other issues related to the quality of accommodations
  • The right to establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge and standards for academic performance and conduct
  • The right to request and receive appropriate documentation that identifies the existence of a disability and the functional limitations arising from the disability
  • The right to determine reasonable accommodations
  • The right to deny an accommodation request that fundamentally alters a course, program or activity or that imposes an undue burden
  • Give notice of available services
  • Engage in an interactive dialogue with the student and other relevant parties when determining reasonable accommodations
  • Provide appropriate reasonable accommodations
  • Respond to student requests in a timely fashion
  • Ensure that courses, programs, services and activities, when viewed in their entirety, are accessible.

Documentation Guidelines

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals with disabilities are assured services and protected from discrimination. To establish that an individual is covered under the ADA, the documentation must indicate that the disability substantially limits a major life activity.  

Major life activities under the Americans with Disabilities Act include:

  • Caring for oneself
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Lifting
  • Bending
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Working

Requirements for documentation of a disability: 

  1. Documentation must be obtained from a licensed medical or mental health professional
  2. Documentation must be current and up to date, typically five years old or less, depending on the nature of the disability - Note that Disability Resources may request more recent documentation if the disability symptomology tends to vary over time
  3. Documentation must list the diagnosis or diagnoses
  4. Documentation must describe in detail the functional impact of the disability on participation in academics and/or other aspects of campus life
  5. Documentation must detail the treatment history and plan of care
  6. When appropriate, list recommended disability accommodations and/or auxiliary aids and services

Documentation must follow the suggested guidelines stated above. Disability Resources does not perform any testing but can provide a list of agencies that perform such evaluations. The cost of obtaining documentation is borne by the individual requesting accommodations. If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability and reasonable accommodations, Disability Resources has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any cost of obtaining additional documentation is also borne by the individual. If you have questions about documentation, please contact our office at 412-268-6121 or