Disability Services and Accessibility

Harvard Summer School is committed to creating an accessible academic and campus community.

If you have a disability, we ensure that you have equal opportunity to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from our academic and residential programs. See how to request an accommodation.

Physical accessibility

Harvard Summer School is committed to ensuring that its courses, classrooms, and housing are accessible to students with disabilities. Some buildings require keys or access cards. Students with physical disabilities should check with the disability services coordinator at least two weeks before classes begin to ensure uninterrupted access to the classrooms. On-campus housing accommodations may be available for students with documented chronic medical conditions and physical disabilities.

Disability services coordinator

Rory Stein, disability services coordinator, helps coordinate the appropriate accommodations for you. Contact Rory early to discuss services and resources.

51 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Voice: (617) 495-0977
TTY: (617) 495-9419
Fax: (617) 495-3662

Defining a disability

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2008 define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts a person from performing one or more major life activities. The following activities are considered major life activities under the law: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working, and the operation of major bodily functions. An impairment or diagnosis does not necessarily constitute a disability; it must substantially limit these activities.


You are eligible if you otherwise meet the academic and technical standards necessary for admission into a program or participation in a course. Part of meeting the academic and technical standards includes regular class attendance and active class participation in all courses. The Summer School does not waive attendance requirements or offer flexible attendance policies for any reason.

Accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services

The disability services coordinator works with students to identify appropriate academic accommodations that do not fundamentally change the nature of the course or academic program. Additional nonacademic services are also provided for students with mobility, hearing, and visual impairments. Accommodations may include:

  • 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-free 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.
  • Course materials converted to e-text. Texts in alternative formats such as e-texts and enlarged print materials are available for students with vision impairments. It can take as long as six to eight weeks to convert materials to digitized formats. Students should submit their requests for materials in alternative formats before the term begins to ensure enough time to convert their materials to the appropriate format.
  • Exams in large print
  • Communication access real-time translation (CART). CART services and American Sign Language interpreters are available for students with hearing impairments. Requests for interpreters must be made at least two months before the start of the term.
  • Interpreters
  • Use of adaptive technology
  • Scribes
  • Readers
  • Van service. On-campus van services are available to students with mobility impairments.
  • Accessible parking. For information about accessible parking, contact the university disability coordinator, by e-mail at disabilityservices@harvard.edu or by phone at (617) 495-1859 or (617) 495-4801 (TDD).

Adaptive technology

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 software, text-to-speech software, screen magnification applications, and a closed-circuit television or video magnifier. 

  • 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.
  • Video Magnifier (closed-circuit television) enables students with visual impairments to magnify printed materials by placing them under a camera, which then projects a magnified image onto a screen.

Temporary disabilities, injuries, and services

If you have a temporary disability or injury, you are not considered disabled by law. However, you may need services or accommodations to complete your courses. Call the disability services coordinator as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Request an accommodation

1. Complete and submit a request for accommodation form for each course in which an accommodation is requested and provide current medical documentation.

Deadlines: Submit request forms and documentation no later than May 19. For study abroad programs, submit materials by mid-Aprill.

Requests are reviewed and approved in the order they are received. It can take two weeks to review and approve a request and to coordinate arrangements.

Documentation for physical and psychiatric disorders must be no more than six months old. Generally, documentation for ADD, ADHD, and learning disabilities must be no more than three years old. Returning students do not need to resubmit their documentation or provide new and additional documentation each term unless requested by the disability services coordinator; however, all students (returning or not) must complete and submit the request for Accommodation form in order to qualify for services. Refer to the clinical documentation guidelines below to ensure that your documentation is appropriate and complete before you submit it.

2. Set up an appointment with the disability services coordinator to discuss the accommodations you have requested. Meetings may be in-person or via the telephone. Do not approach your instructor about accommodations. Accommodation requests are reviewed and implemented by the disability services office only.

Clinical documentation

All requests for accommodations must be supported by recent clinical documentation. Individual education plans such as those developed during high school are insufficient.

We do not offer testing services, however, the disability services coordinator maintains a list of professionals in the Greater Boston area who can help students seeking neuropsychological or pyscho-educational testing. These services are the student’s responsibility.

Download the guidelines below for specific requirements for documentation.


Documentation and information regarding requests for accommodations and disabilities are confidential. Information is shared only with those who have a legitimate need to know. The disability services coordinator may share some information with instructors and others to coordinate accommodations.


If you disagree with the approved accommodation, promptly provide a written statement of your concern, with supporting medical documentation, to the disability services coordinator. All grievances must be filed within 90 days of the alleged act of discrimination.

If the disability services coordinator cannot resolve the grievance independently and promptly, he convenes a committee to review the matter. The committee is comprised of the associate registrar, the director of undergraduate degrees, the dean of students, and, as a nonvoting member, the disability services coordinator.

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 e-mail at disabilityservices@harvard.edu. 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 does not overturn the decision of the committee unless presented with new information or other grounds that warrant a different outcome.