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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 barriers.

The college has an Accessibility Resource Center to facilitate the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities. A student may voluntarily register with the Accessibility Resource Center by completing a disability identification form and providing documentation of a disability. Accommodations and services will then 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. Documentation supporting requests must be current. If obtaining documentation presents a barrier to receiving needed support, students are encouraged to reach out to the Accessibility Resource Center to discuss options and begin the interactive process of requesting accommodations. After review and a meeting with staff, accommodations determined appropriate will be approved by the college. Approved accommodations may be revisited any time conditions or needs change.

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodations or other disability-related support services must make their needs known and file requests in a timely way with the Accessibility Resource Center. The most common types of academic accommodations that are made may be found on the Accessibility Resource Center website. Students with disabilities, like all students, are encouraged to select courses that take into account their own particular strengths and barriers, and should inform advisers of their challenges.

Support services (“auxiliary aids and services,” in the lexicon of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]) are provided based on individual case-by-case assessment. Such aids and services may include sign language interpreters, assistive technology and apps, assistive listening devices, computing software and hardware, print alternatives, recording services, etc. Writing counseling, peer tutoring in certain subjects, and time management/study skills training are available to all students through the Learning Commons. 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 capability. 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 ensuring 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, computer supplies, etc.). These are the responsibility of the student.

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 the Accessibility Resource Center and other programs on campus as needed. Students with disabilities are bound, like all students, to the Smith Honor Code. Students who have a disability and need accommodations or support services should contact or be referred to the Accessibility Resource Center for consultation.

The college does not make retroactive accommodations.

Conflicts or grievances related to disability accommodations should be discussed with the Director of Accessibility, and if not resolved, can be referred to the Office for Equity and Inclusion for an appeals process. Students may also use EthicsPoint to report a concern.

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September 1994 (revised June 2023)