Students with Disabilities


It is the policy of the University of Rochester to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state and local regulations regarding students and applicants with disabilities. Pursuant to these laws, no qualified individual with a disability, or those regarded as having a disability, shall unlawfully be denied access to or participation in any services, programs, or activities.

We recognize that disabilities include mobility, sensory, health, psychological, and learning disabilities. It is our intent to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. There are three kinds of accommodations that are not considered reasonable: (1) It is not a reasonable accommodation if making the accommodation or allowing participation poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others; (2) It is not a reasonable accommodation if making the accommodation means making a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum (educational viewpoint) or a substantial alteration in the manner in which services are provided; and (3) It is not a reasonable accommodation if it poses an undue financial or administrative burden.

The Assistant Dean for Student Life serves as the Access Coordinator for the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and works closely with the University of Rochester Disability Compliance Director to make arrangements for reasonable academic accommodations in educational settings for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities have the responsibility of contacting the Access Coordinator as soon as possible after they have filed their intent to enroll. Because each disability and the particular circumstances surrounding each request are unique, it is impossible to predict what accommodations might be provided to any particular student.

It is a personal decision to disclose the existence of a disability and to request an accommodation, and a decision not to disclose will be respected. While academic accommodations can be requested any time during a semester, please be aware that academic accommodations cannot be made retroactively and do not take effect until the student has registered with the Access Coordinator and the instructor has been provided with an accommodation letter.

What is a disability?

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual:

  • Major Life Activities: The phrase major life activities refers to normal functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
  • Physical Impairment: A physical impairment includes any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following bodily systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory and speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine.
  • Mental Impairment: A mental impairment includes any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
  • Learning Disabilities: A learning disability is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders occur in persons of average to very superior intelligence.

Short Term Injuries

A temporary impairment or short term injury is a disability only if its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities for an extended period of time. Whether a temporary impairment is substantial enough to be a disability must be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the duration (or expected duration) of the impairment, the extent to which it actually limits a major life activity, and the assessment of a qualified medical professional.  For information and assistance on short term injuries and short term injury accommodations visit the Office of Academic Affairs.

Documentation Guidelines

Students who request an accommodation must provide appropriate documentation to the Assistant Dean for Student Life. Students can not receive accommodations until all proper documentation has been received and evaluated. Prior history of a certain accommodation does not guarantee its continued provision. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan is not sufficient documentation of a disability.

Supporting documentation must be submitted on letterhead that is dated, typed, and signed. Documentation must be provided by a qualified physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech pathologist, rehabilitation counselor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other health care provider. Documentation should be current, preferably within the last three years (though the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s specific request for accommodation). Supporting documentation cannot be provided by a family member even if the family member is a qualified health care provider.

The documentation must:

  • Be sufficient to establish a direct link between your underlying condition and your requested accommodation;
  • Include a description of the functional limitations of your disability as they relate to the major life activity impacted by the diagnosis;
  • Include the diagnosis;
  • Include the history of onset;
  • Include the methodologies used to determine the diagnosis;
  • Include the suggested and recommended reasonable classroom accommodations appropriate for the collegiate level.

Once the documentation has been received, the student must request services and accommodations. This will NOT be done automatically and must be initiated by the student. The access coordinator, in consultation with the University of Rochester disability compliance director, will be ultimately responsible for determining appropriate accommodations in accordance with the law.

The University often will provide the specific reasonable accommodations requested, but may not be legally required to do so if there is another effective accommodation available. Supporting documentation regarding the existence and the nature of your disability is generally considered confidential. Without your written consent, and except as stipulated here, information contained in the disability file is kept confidential to the maximum extent possible. Disability related information will also be kept separate from your academic record. Access to your disability file is limited to the Access Coordinator, the University Disability Compliance Director, and other University officials who require access to perform their professional responsibilities in facilitating accommodations, or who need access to protect your health or safety, or the health or safety of others.

Requesting Academic Accommodations Each Semester

Students may request academic accommodations at any time. However, the access coordinator must have time to review and approve the request before facilitating the accommodations. In addition, some accommodations take more time to provide and coordinate than others.

Students requesting academic accommodations must do so each semester by submitting an Academic Accommodations and Faculty Notification Request Form.  The form is available in the Office of Student Life and in the “additional resources” section below. Students must designate their needs on this form and submit their list of classes and teachers to the Access Coordinator at least one week prior to the first day of classes. Students eligible for exam accommodations (such as extra time or a separate testing location for timed, in-class exams) must discuss their needs with each teacher well in advance of each exam.

REMEMBER: As the student, it is your responsibility to submit completed forms to the Access Coordinator in a timely manner, as academic accommodations cannot be made retroactively.

It is strongly recommended that students who are requesting academic accommodations meet with the Access Coordinator at least once per semester at the beginning of the semester to discuss academic needs. When scheduling your courses, please consider the following:

  1. Meet with your academic advisor and Office of Academic Affairs before registering so that you are ready to schedule classes immediately.
  2. Research available course offerings online in advance; write down your choices (and backup choices) in advance to make registration go smoothly and quickly.
  3. Consider your disability-related needs when scheduling. Some factors to consider might be:
    • What time of day do classes meet?
    • How often do classes meet?
    • Can you handle back-to-back classes or do you need breaks?
    • Is your coursework balanced, so that you avoid an overload?
    • Is there a type of work that is affected by your disability (i.e. if you have an LD in reading, can you handle three classes that involve a considerable amount of reading?)

Housing, Dining, and Transportation Accommodations:

If you require a housing or dining accommodation follow the 3-step process online. Please read this information carefully to determine which sections are pertinent to Eastman School of Music students.

The University of Rochester recognizes that students with disabilities (whether temporary or permanent), who live on campus, may find it difficult to navigate campus to get from their residence hall to classes. For information regarding on-campus transportation assistance for students who live in University housing please click here.

If you’re a student who may require parking related accommodations to access the buildings in which you work, live and study, the University of Rochester provides disability parking accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended (ADA AA) and other relevant laws. If you require parking related accommodation assistance, please follow the process outlined here.

Rights of Students with Disabilities

  • Equal access to courses, programs, services, facilities, and activities offered through the university.
  • An equal opportunity to learn.
  • Reasonable and appropriate accommodations with the goal of diminishing the effect of a disability on academic functioning.
  • Appropriate confidentiality.
  • Respect and courtesy.

Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities

  • Meet the university’s qualifications and essential technical, academic, and institutional standards.
  • Request accommodations in a timely manner; students may also waive accommodations.
  • Be proactive, self-advocate, and engage in discussions with faculty and the Access Coordinator (in person or via email), about your unique needs, facilitating your accommodations, and how to best support your path to academic success.
  • Provide proper supporting documentation that confirms your disability, identifies functional limitations and suggested accommodations, and provides support for the requested accommodations.
  • Follow the specific procedures for requesting and obtaining reasonable accommodations, including filling out and the Academic Accommodations and Faculty Notification Request Form each semester.
  • Provide for your personal independent living needs or other personal disability-related needs.
  • Meet with faculty and request assistance through other campus resources as needed.
  • Handle all email correspondence using your official university email address and do so in a timely manner.
  • Abide by the university’s standards for student conduct and academic integrity.
  • Treat all university staff and faculty with respect and courtesy.

Rights of the Access Coordinator

  • Request current, appropriate, and comprehensive supporting documentation, completed by an appropriate and qualified professional, supporting a request for reasonable accommodations.
  • With the student’s signed consent, discuss a student’s need for reasonable accommodations with the professional who provided the documentation, with the goal of diminishing the effect of a disability on academic functioning.
  • Select the most appropriate or equally effective reasonable accommodation through discussion with the student.
  • Deny a request for an accommodation if the documentation does not identify a specific disability, fails to verify the need for requested services, or is not provided in a timely manner.
  • Refuse an accommodation that imposes a fundamental alteration of a program or activity of the university, poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or poses an undue financial or administrative burden on the university.

Responsibilities of the Access Coordinator

  • Ensure that all programs, courses, and services through the university, when viewed in their entirety, are offered in the most integrated and appropriate setting.
  • Provide information regarding policies and procedures to students with disabilities and ensure its availability in accessible formats upon request.
  • Provide, arrange for, and/or help facilitate reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities on an individualized basis upon request, with supporting documentation verification.
  • Create official accommodation and faculty notification letters, and disseminate letters to students and faculty, per the student’s request, each semester, in a timely manner.
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication concerning students with disabilities, except where disclosure is a necessary means to facilitating the accommodation, or where disclosure permitted or required by law or is authorized by the student.
  • Treat all students with respect and courtesy.

Faculty Information

All requests for academic accommodations must be done through the Assistant Dean for Student Life, who serves as Eastman’s Access Coordinator. Do not offer an academic accommodation unless you have received a copy of a student’s official accommodation notification letter from the Access Coordinator and/or the student has provided you with an official letter from the access coordinator. At the beginning of each semester you will receive a letter from the Access Coordinator for each student receiving accommodations. This letter will verify that the student has a documented disability and explain the accommodations he or she will need in order to succeed. It is between the student and the professor, however, to decide how such services are rendered and to contact the Access Coordinator if assistance is needed. It is the responsibility of each faculty member to share in confidence information about accommodations and the existence of a disability with the TA or other professional staff who need to know in order to provide services.
Faculty are encouraged to include the following statement on all course syllabi:
Any student with a documented disability needing academic accommodations should contact the Access Coordinator (100 Gibbs St, 585.274.1106) as early in the semester as possible.  All discussions will remain confidential. 

Additional Resources