Accessibility Services

The Summer School is committed to providing an accessible academic and residential community.

The accessibility services office offers a variety of accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities, permanent and temporary injuries, and chronic conditions. If you are a student with a disability, we engage you in an interactive process to provide you an equal opportunity to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from our academic and residential programs.

The manager of accessibility services works with you, your instructor(s), and staff on an individualized, case-by-case basis to provide appropriate services to ensure you have a rich and rewarding academic and campus experience.

Contact Information

Accessibility Services Office
51 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

What is a disability?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 1998 define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts a person from performing one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or caring for one’s self. An impairment or diagnosis does not necessarily constitute a disability; it must substantially limit these activities.

Temporary Disabilities and Services

You are not considered disabled if you have a temporary illness or injury; however, you may be in need of services or accommodations similar to those provided to students with permanent disabilities. If you are a student with a documented temporary illness or injury, contact the accessibility services office as soon as possible to discuss your case.


Academic accommodations are adjustments and modifications that provide equal academic opportunity for students with disabilities. Academic accommodations are designed to provide equal access to courses and programs, but they do not guarantee an outcome or a level of achievement.

The purpose of accommodations and modifications is to reduce or eliminate any disadvantages that may exist because of your disability. Accommodations are not student preferences; they are determined through an established review process based on documentation received regarding the student's disability. The law does not require institutions to waive specific courses or academic requirements considered essential to a particular course or program. Rather, they are mandated to modify existing requirements on a case-by-case basis in order to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against on the basis of their disability.

Accommodations Provided by the Summer School

The Summer School offers the following accommodations based on a disability:

  • Extended time for in-class exams and in-class assignments. Extended time for exams is generally time and a half. Exams administered with extended time begin earlier than the rest of the class to provide extra time and to allow the proctor to return the completed exam to the professor before the end of class. For example, 10 am to noon exams are scheduled for 9 am to noon.
  • Exams administered in a distraction-reduced environment.
  • Note-taking assistance. The Summer School uses peer note-takers for students who are approved for this accommodation. Note-takers are volunteer students enrolled in the same course as the student with a disability. This accommodation is generally provided for lecture-based courses and for regular class meeting times. Not all courses are suitable for note-taking assistance; especially those that are discussion-based or offered online where the class video can be paused and rewound in order to fill in any gaps within a student’s notes. Some courses may have additional sections or review sessions. If your course has additional sections or class meetings, you are expected to inform the accessibility services office of the dates, times, and locations of the review sections no later than one week before the meeting, so appropriate accommodations can be made as needed.
  • Course materials converted to e-text. Most texts are available in electronic format from the publisher for students with vision impairments. The accessibility services office completes and submits the publisher’s request form on the student’s behalf. A sales receipt for the textbook must accompany the request form. Texts also can be converted in alternative format such as e-texts and enlarged print materials. Students should allow a minimum of four weeks to receive materials from the publisher and convert materials to digitized formats.
  • Exams in large print.
  • Communication access real-time translation (CART) and American Sign Language Interpreters (ASL). CART services and ASL interpreters are available for students with hearing impairments. It can take as long as four weeks to coordinate CART and ASL accommodations. Students should submit their requests early.
  • Captioning. Captioning of course lectures is available for students with hearing impairments who register in online and web-conference courses.
  • Use of adaptive technology.
  • Scribes.
  • Readers.
  • Van service. On-campus van services are available to students with mobility impairments.
  • Accessible parking. To request accessible parking, please contact the accessibility services office at Current medical documentation is required to qualify for this accommodation as well as completion of the parking application and applicable fees.
  • Accessible housing for residential students. This may include a room on the first floor or lower level for students with mobility issues, a single room, and an air conditioner installed in the room.

What technology resources are available?

An adaptive technology laboratory at 53 Church Street is equipped with software and hardware to assist students with disabilities. You may have access to voice recognition, screen-readers, and text-to-speech software.

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking version 10 is speech recognition software that allows students to dictate to the computer and interact with a computer using their voice instead of a keyboard. The student can open icons, browse the Internet, and work in Windows applications. Students train the system to recognize their voice. They are responsible for creating their own voice file and maintaining it on their own storage device.
  • Kurzweil 3000 version 10.4 is a PC-based text-to-speech system designed for students who struggle with reading. It allows the student to view a scanned page on the computer screen while listening to the text as it is read aloud. It speaks and highlights the text simultaneously and enables the student to insert typed or spoken notes anywhere in the document. It also contains study skills and reference tools. Files can be stored in Word, Kurzweil, Daisy, and mp3 formats.
  • Kurzweil 1000 version 11 is a text-to-speech software designed for students who are blind or have low vision. The software reads dialogue boxes as well as materials that have been scanned. The student can also type within scanned documents while the software reads what is being typed. Files can be stored in Word, Kurzweil, and mp3 formats.
  • JAWS (Job Access Windows with Speech) version 10 is a screen reader that enables students who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the Internet and most Windows-based applications by using keystrokes to input data and commands.
  • MAGic version 11 screen-magnification software helps students with low vision view information on the computer screen. Students can customize backgrounds and font colors, the appearance of the cursor, and the level of text magnification. MAGic also has speech output that announces events as they display on screen.

How to Request an Accommodation

Step 1. Contact the accessibility services office and submit the Request for Accommodation form and appropriate documentation no later than two weeks before your course begins.

Step 2. Set up an intake appointment with the office to review your documentation and accommodation requests.

Step 3. After your request has been reviewed and a determination has been made, the accessibility services office will email your request for accommodation form to you with a decision which will be located under Step 2 of the form. Additional information and/or instructions about exams and note-taking services will be emailed if you have been approved for these accommodations.

Necessary Documentation

All requests for accommodations must be supported by recent clinical documentation. For requests based on a learning disability or ADHD, a current neuropsychological or psycho-education evaluation is required. Individual education plans may be submitted as a supporting document only and must accompany a full evaluation. Download the guidelines below for specific documentation requirements.

Deadline for Requesting Accommodations

You should submit a Request for Accommodation form and supporting documentation no later than two weeks before your course begins and four weeks for requests for materials in alternate format, CART, and ASL services. Requests are reviewed in the order they are received. It can take two weeks to review and approve a request and to coordinate the accommodations. You are encourage to submit your request form and documentation as early as possible to avoid delays in services.

Late requests for accommodations will be reviewed. However, accommodations and services will not be arranged in time for the start of your course if you submit your request later than two weeks or four weeks before your course begins.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

As a student with a disability, you have the right to equal access to courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities available through the Summer School; reasonable and appropriate accommodations, determined on a case-by-case basis; appropriate confidentiality of all information pertaining to your disability as required by law; and information reasonably available in accessible formats.

Every student with a disability has the responsibility to meet the Summer School’s qualifications and essential technical, academic, and institutional standards; identify yourself in a timely manner as an individual with a disability when seeking an accommodation; provide documentation from an appropriate professional source that verifies the nature of the disability, functional limitations, and the need for specific accommodations; and follow specific procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I received accommodations in a previous term from the Summer School or Harvard Extension School, do I have to re-submit my documentation and Request for Accommodation form?

If your documentation still meets the requirements of the documentation guidelines for your type of disability, then you need only submit the Request for Accommodation form for each class. Documentation for learning disabilities and AD(H)D must be no more than three years old, while documentation for physical and psychiatric disabilities and chronic illnesses must be within a six-month timeframe. Recent documentation is necessary to determine how the functional limitations of your disability currently impact your ability to perform in an academic setting.

I am a Harvard College student and receive accommodations through the Accessible Education Office (AEO). Do I still need to register with your office?

Yes, Harvard College is separate from the Summer School; therefore, you will need to register with our office to receive accommodations. Have an AEO representative forward a copy of your accommodations letter to our office. You will also need to submit the Request for Accommodation form which can be found above under "How do I request an accommodation?".

I am enrolled in the Study Abroad program. Can I submit a request for accommodations?

Yes, you will still need to submit your documentation (or accommodations letter if you are a Harvard College student registered with AEO) and the Request for Accommodation form. We will then coordinate your accommodations with your instructor and program director.

If I am approved for accommodations, do I need to notify my professor?

We will inform your instructor of your accommodations and will coordinate with the teaching staff to make the necessary arrangements. Due to medical privacy laws, we do not disclose information regarding your disability unless it is absolutely necessary to provide your accommodations.

If I receive testing accommodations, how will I know when and where the exam will take place?

Our Exams Specialist will email you the details of your exam accommodations at least a week before the exam takes place.

I am approved for note-taking services. How do I get copies of the class notes?

Class notes are available on a secure website which you access with your HarvardKey. The volunteer note-taker uploads the notes to the website within 48 hours of the class. The Exams Specialist will email you with more information about the note-taking services if your request is approved.

How do I arrange for accessible parking on campus?

If you have a mobility impairment, you will need to submit medical documentation to the accessibility services office and complete the parking application at the transportation office located in the Smith Campus Center. For more information about parking, please access the parking services website.

I am distance student. How do I receive accommodations?

If you are a distance student and have been approved for disability-related accommodations, we will inform the proctor at your testing center of the approved accommodations. If you have been approved for extended time on exams and are enrolled in a distance course that administers online exams, we will adjust the time accordingly.

If I suffer an injury during the course of the term, can I still apply for accommodations after the accommodation request deadline has passed?

Yes, the Summer School provides accommodations for temporary injuries. Documentation for temporary injuries must include (in addition to a diagnosis that rises to the level of a disability, functional limitations and a recommendation for accommodation) an estimation concerning how long the injury will take to heal, and therefore how long the recommended accommodation(s) will be necessary.


All medical documentation and requests for accommodations will remain confidential. Confidential information is shared only with those who have a legitimate need to know. The accessibility services office may share some information with instructors and staff as necessary to coordinate student accommodations.


If you disagree with the approved accommodation, promptly provide a written statement of your concern, with supporting medical documentation, to the manager of accessibility services. All grievances must be filed within 30 days of the alleged act of discrimination.

If the accessibility services office cannot resolve the grievance independently and promptly, s/he will convene a committee to review the matter. The committee will be comprised of the associate registrar, the director of undergraduate degrees, the dean of students, and, as a nonvoting member, the manager of accessibility services.

The committee may contact the instructor, program managers, or other appropriate personnel to discuss the requested accommodations, as needed. The committee may also request additional medical documentation or an independent medical evaluation on the request for accommodation.

In cases where timeliness of an accommodation is important, every reasonable effort is made to complete each stage of the process within 10 working days, unless the circumstances require a more rapid response. In some situations, we may provide the requested accommodation on a provisional basis, without obligation to continue the accommodation if it is found to be unreasonable or inappropriate.

If you are dissatisfied with a decision of the committee, you may appeal in writing to the director of University Disability Services, by email at Call (617) 495-1859 or (617) 495-4801 (TDD) if you have any questions.

Read about the University grievance process for more information. In most circumstances, the University disability coordinator will not overturn the decision of the committee unless presented with new information or other grounds that warrant a different outcome.


If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment with the accessibility services office, email Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm eastern time.

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