Carnegie Mellon University

Common Accommodations

While there is no comprehensive list of accommodations, some of the more common types are noted and explained below. These are general descriptions of categories of accommodations. Students should discuss their specific accommodation needs with Disability Resources staff.

Accommodations are based on the impact of the disability, the essential elements of the program/activity, and an interactive process/discussion with the student. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. Where applicable, links to policies and procedures pertaining to requesting and using the different types of accommodations are provided at the end of each section.

Alternative Testing

Alternative testing accommodations are adjustments to the standard exam administration process. They are intended to remove disability-related barriers that a student may experience in demonstrating their mastery of the exam material. Exams include quizzes, in-class exams and other timed assessments, online timed assessments, and final exams. Common types of accommodations in this category include additional exam time, distraction-reduced testing environment, and exams in alternative text formats.

Review Policies and procedures for using Alternative Testing.

Alternative Formats

This category of accommodations is appropriate for students whose disabilities present barriers to reading text printed on paper. Alternative text may include large print, braille, audio books, or, most commonly, electronic text formats such as Word, PDF, Epub, or other formats. The specific format of the alternative text will depend on the student’s disability and the most effective reading method for the type of text. For example, a student may need text-based PDF for liberal arts courses and Math ML for mathematics courses. Disability Resources assists students and faculty as needed in obtaining texts in the format appropriate for each student.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology, or AT, includes hardware and software that can assist students with a variety of disabilities in completing academic tasks. Some AT is specially designed to accommodate students with certain types of disabilities. Other AT is designed to be used by anyone but is particularly helpful for students with disabilities. Accommodations in this category include AT evaluation and training, permission to use specific types of AT during class or exams, and loan of limited types of AT equipment to students. While assistive technology varies widely in the types of tools and supports it offers to students, most common AT tools include text to speech, dictation, and notetaking tools such as smart pens.

Classroom/Coursework Access

This category covers a broad range of accommodations designed to afford the student equal access to the classroom and its coursework. These accommodations tend to be unique to each student, but common accommodations in this category include preferred seating, alterations to the classroom environment, and modifications to the way work is performed in class to accommodate physical or sensory impairments.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

This category of accommodations is designed to provide students who are deaf or hard of hearing with equal access to classes, assignments, and campus-sponsored activities. Typically, accommodations involve amplifying auditory information or converting auditory information into a format that is accessible and provides effective communication for the student.

Notetaking Tools and Services

Accommodations in this category are provided to students whose disabilities present barriers to effective notetaking during class. The Office of Disability Resources has a wide variety of options for notetaking assistance and support. The notetaking tools and services for each student are determined through the interactive process with the student and academic program. They are customized to support learning and meet each student’s individual notetaking needs.

Review the policies and procedures for notetaking accommodations (PDF)

Flexibility Accommodations

Students are expected to attend class and meet deadlines for assignments and exams. However, if a student has a documented disability with random or episodic acute episodes that may occasionally impact their ability to attend class, complete exams or assignments at the scheduled time, limited Flexibility in Attendance/Assignment dates may be considered an appropriate accommodation. The number of allowable absences and availability of assignment extensions depends on the design and learning objectives of the course. Accommodations may not alter the essential, core components of a course or fundamentally change its delivery, learning outcomes, or requirements.

Review Flexible Attendance Policies and Procedures (PDF)
Review Flexible Assignment Policies and Procedures (PDF)

Housing Accommodations

These accommodations are designed to provide students with equal access to, and use of university housing by removing physical or environmental barriers. The Office of Disability Resources works closely with Housing Services, University Health Services, and Counseling and Psychological Services to ensure that students’ documented medical needs for housing accommodations are met.

Review the University Housing Accommodation Request Form (PDF)