Student Handbook

Policies, Procedures and Guidelines

Disability Services Policy

Smith College is both philosophically committed and legally required to assure equal access for students with documented disabilities to participate in all college programs. The college works proactively to remove architectural and communication barriers and has an Office of Disability Services to facilitate the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations and services to individual students with documented disabilities. A student may voluntarily register with the Office of Disability Services by completing a disability identification form and providing documentation of a disability. Accommodations and services will be discussed through an interactive process. Relevant medical and educational information will be reviewed and a final plan for accommodations will be approved by the college.

Students with disabilities who need academic accommodations or other disability related support services must make their needs known and file timely Accommodation and Services Request Form with the Office of Disability Services. The types of academic accommodations which can be made may include additional time for timed examinations, private space for testing, use of assistive technology, additional time for written assignments, and, in exceptional circumstances, course substitutions or a plan for a reduced course program. (This needs approval by both the Office of Disability Services and the Administrative Board.) Students with disabilities, like all other students, should select courses that take into account their own particular strengths and weaknesses and inform advisors of their challenges.

Support services (“auxiliary aids and services,” in the lexicon of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]) may include sign language interpreters, note takers, scribes, assistive listening devices, typists, computing software and hardware, print alternatives, recording services, and are provided based on an individual assessment. Writing counseling, peer tutoring in certain subjects, and time management/study skills training are available to all students through the Learning Center. Students with disabilities may request additional or longer sessions if needed; however, separate services designed specifically for disabled students are not provided. If peer tutors are not available, other tutorial services may be sought at the student's expense. Individual academic or personal “coaching” services are also not provided by the College.

Support services are provided to students with documented disabilities to help them perform according to their intellectual abilities. The College will not provide such support services if providing them would create an undue burden for the college. The College is responsible for providing that, within certain limits, students are not denied the opportunity to participate in college programs on the basis of a disability. The college is not required to and will not:

  • make accommodations or provide support for services which fundamentally alter the academic requirements for the degree, course requirements, or basic pedagogy;
  • normally alter consistently applied academic policies which are based on academic standards;
  • guarantee success or bear responsibility for making students succeed in their courses.

The College is not responsible for and will not provide personal care assistance, personal purchases, personal adaptive equipment, formal educational assessment or clinical disability evaluation, or services or educational supplies used by all students (pens, paper, personal computers, software, or computer supplies, etc.). These are the responsibility of the student.

The College will provide support services to students for whom the college has evaluations and documentation that support the accommodation request. Students are expected to participate responsibly in using accommodations they have requested and which have been approved by the College and to seek out assistance from Disability Services and other programs on campus as needed. Students with disabilities are bound, like all students, to the Smith Honor Code. Students who may have a disability and need accommodations or support services should contact or be referred to the Office of Disability Services for consultation and advice. The required documentation supporting the need for services and accommodation must be current. The College does not make retroactive accommodations.

Conflicts or grievances related to disability accommodations should be discussed with the Disability Services Director, and if not resolved, can be referred to the Class Dean for informal resolution or to the Office of Equity and Inclusion as part of a more formal process. Students may also use EthicsPoint to report a concern.

Smith College's Service Animal Policy allows service dogs in all public areas of the campus. In order to have an animal in the residence halls, students must register with disability services and provide information about the student's disability and the nature of the tasks the animal provides as well as complete a housing contract.

Assistance or support related animals may be considered as reasonable accommodation in the residence halls and requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Students must register with the Disability Services Office and provide appropriate medical documentation of a disability, the functional challenges, and the animal's role in mitigating these difficulties. These animals are not allowed in classrooms or public spaces where pets are not allowed.

Forms and information about the Office of Disability Services can be found at smith.edu/ods.

September 1994 (revised July 2021)