Frequently Asked Questions
Please review our frequently asked questions for accomodations and alternative testing services.
To assist students with disabilities as they transition to CMU and navigate the process of meeting their physical, emotional and academic needs, we have provided the following information to frequently asked questions. In addition to the FAQ below, we strongly encourage you to know your responsibilities and those of postsecondary schools such as CMU under Section 504 and Title II.
As a student with a disability leaving high school and entering postsecondary education, will I see differences in my rights and how they are addressed?
Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect all elementary, secondary and postsecondary students from discrimination. However, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district's jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify the individual's educational needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs, as well as it is meeting the needs of students without disabilities.
Unlike your high school, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability.
Do I have to inform a postsecondary school that I have a disability?
What academic adjustments must a postsecondary school provide?
May a postsecondary school deny my admission because I have a disability?
No. If you meet the essential requirements for admission, a postsecondary school may not deny your admission simply because you have a disability.
Do I have to prove that I have a disability to obtain an academic adjustment?
What documentation should I provide?
Schools may set reasonable standards for documentation. Some schools require more documentation than others. They may require you to provide documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist or other qualified diagnostician. The required documentation may include one or more of the following: the credentials of the professional, a diagnosis of your current disability, the date of the diagnosis, how the diagnosis was reached and how your disability affects major life activities or academic performance. The documentation should be current (within the last five years) and provide enough information for you and your school to decide on an appropriate academic adjustment.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan may help identify services that have been effective for you. However, this is generally insufficient documentation. Postsecondary education presents different demands than high school education and what you need to meet these new demands may be different. Also, in some cases, the nature of a disability may change.
If your documentation does not meet the postsecondary school's requirements, a school official must tell you in a timely manner what additional documentation you need to provide. You may need a new evaluation in order to provide the required documentation.
Who has to pay for a new evaluation?
Neither your high school nor your postsecondary school is required to conduct or pay for a new evaluation to document your disability and need for an academic adjustment. This may mean that you have to pay or otherwise find funding for the evaluation. If you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency, you may qualify for an evaluation at no cost to you. You may locate your state vocational rehabilitation agency through the Department of Education's Rehabiltation Services Administration.
If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability, Disability Resources may require additional documentation. Any cost associated with obtaining additional documentation is also borne by the student. If the Office of Disability Resources desires a second professional opinion, our office bears the cost.
Once the school has received the necessary documentation from me, what should I expect?
What if the academic adjustment we identified is not working?
Is there any fee associated with using disability resources or services?
What can I do if I believe the school is discriminating against me?
Practically every postsecondary school must have an employee—frequently called the Section 504 Coordinator, ADA Coordinator, or Disability Services Coordinator—who coordinates the school's compliance with Section 504 and Title II laws. You should contact this person for information about how to address your concerns.
The school also must have grievance procedures that allow you to raise your concerns fully and fairly, and must provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints. School publications, such as student handbooks, usually describe the steps you must take to start the grievance process.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your school's grievance procedures, or you wish to pursue an alternative action, you may file a complaint against the school with the Office of Civil Rights or in a court of law.
Please review the frequently asked questions regarding our alternative testing program.
What is the Disability Resources Testing Center?
The Disability Resources Testing Center offers a distraction-reduced testing environment for students with disabilities who have approved accommodations related to testing. Students wishing to take exams in the Testing Center must have approved accommodations set up by Disability Resources staff in advance of the exam date.
Where is the Testing Center located?
The Disability Resources Testing Center is located at Wean Hall 3604.
What are the Testing Center hours?
Spring and Fall semesters: Monday through Friday, 8:30AM to 7:00PM
Summer 1 and Summer 2: Monday through Friday, 8:30AM to 5:00PM
Note that we are not open on weekends with the exception of Fall finals, which include Sunday exams.
What am I permitted to have with me in the Testing Center?
While you may bring a bag or backpack into the testing center, you must stow it inside a secure locker in the Testing Center lobby. Only permitted exam materials are allowed in the Testing Room. This includes a writing instrument, bluebook, or any materials/equipment that the instructor permits, or materials granted as an accommodation. All phones and smart watches must be turned off in the proctor's presence and must be kept in the lockers during the exam.
Is the Testing Center a distraction-reduced testing environment?
Yes. While there are often several students taking exams at one time and we cannot guarantee that there will be no distractions, we work hard to make sure the Testing Center has as few distractions as possible. Students must whisper when communicating with the proctor. We provide earplugs upon request, and we have noise-canceling headphones that may be used by students who have permission to use noise-canceling headphones as an accommodation. The seats in our testing center have visual buffers so as to minimize visual distractions.
What if I need to ask a question about an item on an exam?
If you have a question or a comment while taking an exam at the Testing Center, there are a few ways to contact the instructor if the instructor permits questions/clarifications during an exam. If your instructor has provided a phone number, the proctor will allow you to use the testing center's phone. If the instructor did not provide a phone number but does permit questions to be asked via email, you will be able to type the question into an email that will be sent through the proctor’s email account. The proctor will let you know when and if the instructor responds.
If your question is not answered while you are taking the exam at the Testing Center, the proctor will note on the exam envelope that our office attempted to contact the instructor. In these situations, it is best that the student answer the exam item to the best of their ability. This will allow the student to continue to work through the exam.
How do I schedule an exam at the Testing Center?
You may schedule an exam if you are approved for testing-related accommodations by Disability Resources staff. Before you can schedule an exam, you must first use our AIM online system to notify your faculty that you are requesting accommodations related to alternative testing. Do this by logging into our online portal, selecting the classes you would like accommodations for, and then indicating which accommodations you would like for each class. When you hit the Submit button, an email will automatically be sent from Disability Resources to your instructor, notifying them about the accommodations you are requesting for their specific class.
Next, you will need to have a dialog with your instructor about your testing accommodations. Some instructors prefer to proctor their own exams and are able to provide appropriate accommodations for testing. If your instructor would prefer that Disability Resources proctor your exams, please request that they fill out the Alternative Testing Instructions Form. Once that form has been completed, you can log back into our online portal, click on My Accommodations on the left side of the page, and then navigate to Alternative Testing on the right side of the page. Under Alternative Testing, click on Schedule an Exam, and enter all required information. We encourage you to schedule all exams early in the semester or as soon as you know your exam dates. This will ensure that your requests are submitted timely. Note that the online system will allow you to request to take an exam before your instructor has filled out the Alternative Testing Instructions Form, but our office will not be able to confirm your exam time until this Instructions Form is completed.
Do I need to schedule an exam with Disability Resources if my instructor is going to proctor it?
No. If your instructor will be proctoring an exam and providing the accommodations you need, you should not request to take the exam with Disability Resources.
Why do I need to notify my faculty about my testing accommodations using the AIM system before I can schedule an exam?
A crucial step in the process of setting up your accommodations is officially notifying your instructors about those accommodations. You will not receive any accommodations for a class, including testing accommodations, until you notify your instructor via our system. Simply telling your instructor verbally about your accommodations does not constitute notifying instructors. The notification needs to be in writing and originate from Disability Resources.
How far in advance do I need to schedule an exam through the AIM system?
It is helpful, especially for final exams, if you schedule your exams as far ahead of time as possible. At a minimum, please schedule all exams at least five business days prior to the exam date. If an exam request is submitted fewer than five business days ahead, we cannot guarantee that we will have sufficient time to schedule your exam.
If I receive extra time on exams and have another class right after the one where I’m taking an exam, how should I schedule this in the AIM system?
It is expected that students with testing accommodations will take their exams as close to the scheduled in-class exam time as their course schedule allows. However, we do not ask students to miss or be late to a class due to taking an accommodated exam in another class. You may start exams as early as 8:30AM. So depending on the time of your exam, you may be able to begin taking it prior to the start of class. If this is not possible, either because the exam is for an 8:30 class or you also have another class directly before the exam, please coordinate with your instructor to agree on a time when you can take it at Disability Resources.
What are my options if I am late scheduling my exam and I receive notice that Disability Resources is unable to proctor it?
We strongly recommend that you put reminders in your calendar and schedule exams well in advance so that this does not happen. However, if you submit a late request and we are unable to schedule it at the time you requested, you have three options:
- You may take the exam unaccommodated with the rest of the class at the scheduled time.
- You may contact your instructor and see if they are able to make arrangements to proctor it for you and provide your accommodations.
- You may contact the instructor and request permission to reschedule the exam and take it with Disability Resources at a later date. Note that we must see written permission from your instructor in order to reschedule an exam in our Testing Center.
What if I arrive late to my exam at Disability Resources?
We strongly encourage you to give yourself plenty of time so that you arrive on time for all exams. However, we allow a ten-minute grace period. If you are less than ten minutes late, we are generally able to administer your exam and grant you your full allotted time. If you are between ten and thirty minutes late, you may take the exam, but we cannot give you your full allotment of time. If you are more than thirty minutes late, we will need to receive permission from your instructor in order to administer the exam, and the number of minutes you are late may be deducted from your exam time. This is to maintain the academic integrity of the exam.
What should I do if I receive an email saying that my instructor has not completed the Alternative Testing Instructions Form yet? Can I still take the exam?
The Alternative Testing Instructions Form provides information about your exam that Disability Resources requires in order to proctor it. Unless prior arrangements have been made, it will not be possible for Disability Resources to administer the exam without the completed Alternative Testing Instructions Form. We recommend that you contact your instructor as soon as you receive this email and ask them to complete the form. Our office can help facilitate this conversation with the instructor. Scheduling all exams at least five business days ahead of time helps ensure that your instructor will have time to complete the Alternative Testing Instructions Form prior to the exam date.
What if I need to schedule a make-up exam?
You should communicate with your instructor to find out if you are permitted to take the exam on a different date. If the instructor allows this, forward their email granting you this permission to the Disability Resources general mailbox, email@example.com, and use the AIM system to schedule the exam. Please provide Disability Resources with as much notice as possible, and we will try our best to schedule your exam at the date and time you requested.
How much advanced notice does Disability Resources need if I want to request a change to my testing accommodations?
In order to have sufficient time to evaluate any requests to modify testing accommodations, we strongly recommend that you submit this request, along with supporting documentation if appropriate, at least five business days ahead of your next exam.
How does Disability Resources handle suspected academic integrity violations related to exams taken in its Testing Center?
Disability Resources provides proctors in the Testing Center for all exams, and as of Fall 2018, all students are required to sign an honor pledge with every exam they take with Disability Resources. Proctors are trained to observe students carefully to ensure academic integrity during exams. If a proctor or other Testing Center staff observe behavior that could constitute cheating or other academic integrity violations, the student will be asked to step out of the testing area to discuss the event with staff. Depending on the type and severity of the observed behavior, the student may or may not be permitted to finish the exam. A detailed summary of the event, including the student’s explanation of their behavior, will be provided to the instructor. If warranted, the alleged violation will be referred to the Office of Community Standards and Integrity’s Academic Review Board for adjudication.
Please review the frequently asked questions regarding final exams.
Where can I find the final exam schedule?
How do I schedule exams through the Disability Resources portal?
When is the deadline for submitting final exam requests each semester?
What time should I schedule my final exam to start, considering that I receive extra time on exams as an accommodation?
If I need to take an exam on University Reading Day or Make Up Day, what time should I schedule it?
When will I receive confirmation that my final exam scheduling request has been processed by Disability Resources?
What should I do if I have two final exams scheduled for the same day?
What happens if I submit my final exam request after the deadline?
Due to the extremely high volume of final exam requests each cycle, we cannot generally accommodate late final exam requests. Late exam requests will only be approved in the unlikely event that we have available space in the room where that exam is taking place, and available staff to schedule and proctor the exam. All exam requests that were submitted before the deadline will be prioritized before our office can look at late exam requests. If your request is denied because it was submitted late, you will have to take the exam with the rest of your class in the classroom without accommodations. We therefore urge you to submit your final exam requests early.