Frequently Asked Questions

Individuals responsible for providing support services to students with disabilities on various college campuses may have different titles and work out of different offices. While all institutions of higher education provide access for students with disabilities to some degree, how that access is achieved may vary from one campus to the next.

At Syracuse University, the staff in the Office of Disability Services (ODS) is responsible for coordinating access for students with disabilities through an interactive process involving the Office of Disability Services, the student, and when necessary, representatives from other University departments.

Following are examples of questions that have been addressed to staff over time. If you have any additional questions or concerns specific to your needs, please contact the Office of Disability Services.


Q: What are academic adjustments and auxiliary aids?

A: Services for students with documented disabilities may include, but are not limited to, academic modifications, exam accommodations, note-taking assistance, alternate format of printed materials, interpreter services/captioning, assistive technology, and advocacy.

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Q: How do I register and obtain academic adjustments and auxiliary aids?

A: Students with disabilities who plan to request accommodations should self-identify to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and provide documentation of a disability. To request services, go to the ODS website and click on either ‘Incoming Students (if new to SU)” or “Current Students (If already attending SU)”. ODS will then contact the student, who will be assigned a counselor and an accommodation plan will be made.

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Q: What documentation is required and where should it be sent?

A: Documentation of a student’s disability should be provided by an appropriate, qualified professional and should validate the need for services based on an individual’s current level of functioning in the educational setting. Medical information should also include the impact of any medication on the student’s ability to meet academic demands in the post-secondary environment. Disability information should be sent to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 804 University Ave, Suite 303, Syracuse, NY 13244. Students should also obtain a copy of their disability documentation from the original source and retain a copy for their personal records.

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Q: Who typically sends documentation to ODS?

A: The student, high school, or health care provider can send documentation to ODS via fax, mail, or email.

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Q: What is the self-assessment survey and why do I have to complete it?

A: The self-assessment survey is comprised of questions that ask you to report your academic experiences to-date. It is important that you complete it to the best of your ability because your assigned Counselor uses this tool to get to know you and it provides a discussion platform when making the Academic Adjustment Plan.

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Q: What happens after I submit my documentation and self-assessment survey to ODS?

A: Once submitted, ODS will review all materials and a Counselor will be assigned. ODS will follow-up with you about who your counselor is and if additional documentation is necessary. After this, you will need to schedule the initial meeting between you and your counselor. If you are doing this at the beginning of the semester, we encourage you to finalize all processes early.

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Q: Confidentiality – Who has access to disability related information?

A: Disability documentation submitted to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) is considered confidential information and does not become part of a student’s permanent record. Disability information should only be released to ODS. Students are encouraged to obtain a copy of their disability documentation from the original source and retain a copy for their personal records. Disability documentation is normally maintained by ODS for ten years after the last recorded date of enrollment and then it is destroyed.

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Q: How are faculty informed about any academic adjustments and auxiliary aids I need?

A: Students in need of academic adjustments and auxiliary aids may receive an Academic Adjustment Letter to discuss with and give to their faculty. This letter does not identify a specific disability, but rather, indicates necessary academic adjustments.

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Q: On my Academic Adjustment letter, it indicates that I have alternate format. How do I request my books?

A: Students who are approved for Alternate Format must have the class and book information to fill out the Alternate Format Request Form. Students must also submit proof of purchase on the request form or via . Alternate format requests can take 10-17 business days to complete, so be sure to submit your requests early! Once completed, you will receive an email that your materials are available for download from Transfer Big Files.

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Q: On my Academic Adjustment letter, it indicates that I am authorized for note-taking assistance. How do I request notes?

A: ESF and SU students who are authorized an academic adjustment for note taking are encouraged to come to our office to discuss their specific note taking needs with their counselor or a note taking staff member each semester. Together, the student and the counselor will determine the course(s) in which a note taking accommodation is necessary. Once a request is made, a peer note taker enrolled in the class is hired to provide notes to student(s) with the note taking accommodation. Note takers are instructed to post their class notes to an ODS Blackboard organization weekly and students with the accommodation are expected to utilize the notes regularly.

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Q: Do I need to renew my Academic Adjustment Letter each Semester?

A: Yes! You must do this each semester. You can request an academic adjustment letter by filling out an Academic Adjustment Renewal Form.

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Q: I have an exam that is coming up. What do I need to do to receive academic adjustments on tests, quizzes, and exams?

A: First, speak with your instructor and be sure to provide them with you Academic Adjustment Letter. Sometimes, instructors can actually accommodate you themselves. This is ideal as it provides you direct access to the instructor. However, if your instructor is unable to accommodate, please be sure to fill out the ODS Testing Sign-up form at least 3 business days in advance so you can take your exam at ODS.

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Q: Is there an orientation program for new students with disabilities?

A: Yes! As of summer 2015, ODS has offered an orientation for students with disabilities. The 2016 Access ‘Cuse Pre-Orientation is from August 23 to August 24. For full details, please go to the Access ‘Cuse Pre-Orientation page. In addition to the pre-orientation, ODS offers first year students an opportunity to receive a scholarship for SummerStart through the McLane Student fund. Students with disabilities are also encouraged to attend the programs offered through the Syracuse University Office of Orientation and Transition Services (OTS).

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Q: What is the McLane Scholar’s program and how can I join?

A: A few outstanding students will be selected as McLane Scholars, and will receive funding that covers the up to the full expenses associated with SummerStart. The McLane Scholarships were established in honor of Brian McLane ’69, a champion for the rights of individual with disabilities, and one of Syracuse’s strongest disability advocates. These McLane Scholars will be chosen based on their desire to engage with ODS, and will be provided additional academic and social activities throughout their time at Syracuse University. They will be recognized as potential leaders in the disability community.

Syracuse University’s SummerStart is a program designed to address the transition from high school to college, and introduces students to academic, social, and cultural life at Syracuse University. Students who attend get a head start on everything from coursework to social skills, confidence and leadership.

University College/SummerStart has partnered with the Office of Disability Services to offer additional programming intended to address the specific concerns of students with disabilities. In addition to the full SummerStart programming, the Office of Disability Services (ODS) facilitates a mandatory 1-credit introductory seminar course designed to address both the academic and social-emotional aspects of University life. The course will introduce students to the concept of disability as diversity, and the social construction of disability. Students will have the opportunity to be trained on various forms of assistive technologies and will meet weekly with our learning support specialist outside of class-time to obtain supplemental academic support and tutoring.

For more information regarding the summer preparation program and the contact person, please visit the SummerStart website.

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Q: How do I apply to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in my residence hall?

A: You would apply by going to the Emotional Support Animal page on the ODS website. There is an electronic handout that is available that provides the step-by-step process for requesting an ESA.

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Q: Are there any scholarships available through the Office of Disability Services (ODS)?

A: Not directly, but ODS does provide scholarship information. The scholarships provided on the ODS Scholarship page list scholarships, internships, and other employment opportunities that are available specifically for students with disabilities!

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Q: What is Delta Alpha Pi?

A: Delta Alpha Pi is an academic honor society founded to recognize high-achieving students with disabilities who are attending colleges (including community colleges) and universities as undergraduate or graduate students. Syracuse University’s unique chapter is Delta Gamma and was establish in July, 2015.

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Q: What is the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)?

A: The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal sector employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Diversity Management & Equal Opportunity (ODMEO) manage the program, which continues to be successful with the participation of many other federal agencies and sub-agencies. Since the program’s expansion in 1995, over 6,000 students and recent graduates have received temporary and permanent employment opportunities through the WRP.

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Q: Is there an accessible transportation system available on and off campus?

A: Syracuse University contracts with CENTRO (Central New York Regional Transportation Authority) to operate campus shuttle routes as well as “free fare” zones for SU students on its regular routes. Information regarding schedules, routes, as well as transportation options available on and off campus can be found on the Syracuse University Parking and Transit Services website. CENTRO operates buses and shuttles that are wheelchair accessible.

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Q: Should I Self-Identify as a Student with a Disability to Admissions?

A: Syracuse University values diversity and seeks to promote meaningful access to educational opportunities for all students. Admission to the University is based upon requirements established by the Admissions Office in accordance with University policy and the presence of a disability is not considered when an admissions decision is made. Applicants with disabilities are welcome to discuss concerns they may have about the impact of their disability on admission to the University. Questions or concerns should be directed to the Office of Admission and/or the Office of Disability Services.

A prospective student with a disability is not obligated to self-identify prior to admission to the University unless they is requesting accommodations from the University in the admissions process. Upon acceptance, however, incoming students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible. Many accommodations require advanced planning and early identification of a student’s needs helps to ensure that arrangements and accommodations can be made in a timely manner.

Ahead’s Website

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Q: My professor refuses to give me my accommodations; what can I do?

A: You should discuss the issue with your ODS Counselor immediately. Your counselor can guide you through the appropriate actions you need to take or they may need to intercede.

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Q: Who will be my student’s counselor?

A: Your student will be assigned a counselor after their paperwork has been submitted and processed. An email will be sent to your student’s email address regarding pertinent information about who their counselor is and how to make an appointment.

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Q: Can I speak to my student’s counselor regarding their performance?

A: Until your student signs a release form, we are not allowed to discuss any materials or information with anyone except the student. Your student may choose not to sign the waiver.

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Q: What do we do if our student won’t come into ODS to receive services?

A: This can be frustrating. It is their prerogative, but if you would like some recommendations for how to talk about it with them, please feel free to call ODS and speak with one of our counselors.

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Q: What is the process for my student to apply for ADA housing?

A: The ADA Housing process can be found on the ADA housing page. The information is regularly updated and, as of July, 2016, includes two forms. One form is completed by the student, while the Health Care Provider form is completed by a medical professional.

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