Students FAQs

Q: Do all CUNY colleges have services for students with disabilities?

A: Yes, all CUNY schools have either an office or designee responsible for coordinating services for students with disabilities.

Q: What is the definition of an individual with a disability?

A: According to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, an individual with a disability is a person who 1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities: or 2) has a record of such impairment; or 3) is regarded as having such impairment.

Q: How do I find out more about services if I think I have a disability?

A: To discuss eligibility and available services, schedule an appointment with the office or designee responsible for coordinating services for students with disabilities on your campus.

Q: What do I need to do to become eligible for services?

A: To discuss available services, schedule an appointment with the student disability service provider on your campus and bring documentation of your disability.

Q: Is my documentation from high school acceptable proof of my disability?

A: You should discuss your current documentation and your needs with the disability service provider on your campus or the campus which you intend to enroll.

Q: Do I need to be a full-time student to receive services?

A: No, all students enrolled in classes are eligible. The City University of New York is committed to providing all students equal access to campus programs. This includes certificate, associate, baccalaureate and graduate degree programs.

Q: What happens after I provide documentation about my disability?

A: During the initial meeting, the documentation you provide is reviewed to determine the extent to which your disability limits or restricts you in the academic setting. Your campus student disability service provider will work with you to identify which accommodations and support services are reasonable and appropriate.

Q: Does every CUNY student with a disability receive services through their campus disability service provider?

A: Participation is voluntary and some students do not request assistance in meeting their needs on campus. Other students may not need accommodations for every class or every semester for which they enroll. And some other students may have disabilities which do not limit access to educational opportunities at CUNY. Decisions regarding specific accommodations are made by the coordinator based on documentation and need.

Q: Do I have to disclose the nature of my disability to my professors?

A: No, you should only have to disclose your specific disability to the office or designee responsible for coordinating services for students with disabilities on your campus, contact them if you have further questions.

Q: What if I need modifications in my accommodations?

A: If you find that the accommodations are not effective or they need to be modified in order to meet the unique demands of individualized courses, you should contact your campus disability service provider.

Q: Why would two individuals with the same disability receive different accommodations?

A: Situations are considered on a case-by-case basis because the impact of a given disability on each person can be totally different in its effect.

Faculty FAQs

Q: How will I know if there are students with disabilities in my class?

A: Students will self-identify their disability status and their affiliation with the campus' disability services office. Students should present you with a letter from the campus' disability services office that verifies their need for accommodations and explains exactly what types of accommodations they will need in your course.

Sometimes students with disabilities first disclose to their professors. When this happens, you should refer students to the campus disability services office.

Q: What are disability accommodations or academic adjustments?

A: Accommodations/academic adjustments are reasonable modifications to programs, facilities, or curricula that ensure equal access and opportunity for students with disabilities. By definition, accommodations must be reasonable in nature and should not compromise course standards or fundamentally alter the curriculum.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include sign-language interpreters, extended time testing, assistive technology, and note-taking services.

Q: How are accommodations determined?

A: Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities are determined on an individual, case-by-case basis, according to documented need. Eligibility for accommodations is determined through a functional assessment of disability documentation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section #504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Accommodations are determined by the professional staff in the disability services office in consultation with course instructors and other appropriate campus officials.

Q: What if I don't agree with the accommodations granted to a student by the disability services office?

A: Professors are encouraged to speak to their campus disability services office should they have any concerns or questions regarding the appropriateness of reasonable accommodations.

Q: Do accommodations give students with disabilities an unfair advantage?

A: No. Accommodations are intended to provide an equal opportunity for students with disabilities. As such, they are designed to "level the playing field" for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same standard as all other students. In particular, like all other students, students with disabilities must meet all University academic criteria and course technical standards.

Q: Who is permitted to know about a student's disability status or accommodation needs?

A: Student disability information is protected by Family Education Rights Protection Act (FERPA) and must be held in the strictest confidence. Any public disclosure of a student's disability is a violation of this law.

Q: What if I would like to know more about what resources are available on my own campus?

A: Please contact the disability services coordinator at your respective office to schedule an appointment. (Link to contact list)

Q: What should I do if I decide to change the location of my classroom?

A: All requests for classroom changes are processed by campus Offices of the Registrar. It should be noted that there are times when the location of your classroom has been selected to meet the accessibility needs of a student with a disability and classroom. Under these circumstances, relocation may be difficult to arrange.

Q: How should I handle a disruptive student who has a disability?

A: Faculty should work closely with college disability services offices to address disruptive behavior that may be related to a student's disability. Faculty should understand that while they are required to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities, they are not required to tolerate behavior that is substantially disruptive to their ability to teach and to other students' ability to learn. Indeed, students with disabilities should be held to the same code of conduct as all other members of the campus community.

Q: When a student requests a copy of copyrighted material in an accessible format, doesn't this violate copyright laws?

A: No. Under copyright laws, students with disabilities are permitted to make one copy of copyrighted material in an accessible format for personal use.