Accommodation Descriptions

Accommodations are modifications to conditions that would otherwise cause a student, because of a disability, to be at a disadvantage relative to non-disabled students in their access to the university’s programs for students. Reasonable accommodations provide equitable access to programs or facilities and do not fundamentally alter the essential nature of a course or academic program. Accommodations can be requested using AIM.

Classroom Accommodations

Access to teacher handouts, slides and overheads

Having access to handouts is needed either because a student needs to have the extra time to read them, they may need to be put in electronic format or they may be beneficial to a student who has trouble focusing while listening to the lecture or has trouble with organization. For classes where all materials are posted to Blackboard, that would suffice for meeting the needs of the student with this accommodation.

Additional time on in-class writing assignments

Some students due to their disability may require additional time on any in-class writing. SDS recommends that the faculty member and the student work out how to best handle this situation directly. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact SDS. This would not apply to an online course where the assignment is essentially completed at home over a pre-determined period of time.

Assistive listening devices

Some students who are hard of hearing may require an assistive listening device. Each device is different. In most cases, unless there is an audio system in the room that has a built-in ALD, the instructor will be required to wear a small device with a microphone so that the student can hear. It will be important for the instructor to repeat any comments from other members of the class.

Assistive technology (laptops, note-taking devices)

There is a variety of assistive technology available to students with disabilities. Some students may need to type their notes or assignments on a computer with or without special software such as JAWS, Magic Eyes, Kurzweil 1000 and 3000 Dragon Naturally Speaking. Other students may need to use a Braille typewriter, note-taking solutions, or magnifying products. If you have questions about this, please contact SDS.

Closed-captioned videos

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing will need to have all videos shown in class to have captioning. If the copy being shown is not captioned, please contact SDS to determine what needs to be done to have the video captioned or to look for alternative solutions prior to the time of the class.

Flexibility with assignment deadlines

The ability to request additional time or alter a due date for an assignment, course reading or class project. This accommodation is intended to be used proactively. A student with the accommodation of extended or flexible deadlines must meet with their faculty at the beginning of the semester to discuss how this accommodation may be applied to a course. Faculty should work with the student in a good faith effort to determine a reasonable amount of time and set a new deadline. However, accommodations are not reasonable if they constitute a fundamental alteration of an essential element of the program. Accommodations are not granted retroactively and do not excuse any prior unexcused untimely assignments or mitigate any consequences from failing to meet deadlines.

Food during class and exams

Allowing the student to consume their own food and/or drinks in the classroom provides the ability to manage a variety of health conditions that are affected by diet. The student is expected to be discreet if they need to use this accommodation during lecture. If access to food and/or drink in the classroom/lab could be problematic, faculty are asked to please contact SDS.

Information on board read aloud for students with visual disabilities

Students who are either Blind or have limited vision, may not be able to see information that is written on the board. Therefore, it is important for the instructor to read aloud all information that is written on the board in order to provide the student equal access to the information.


An interpreter/transcriber is simply one who bridges the gap between the spoken and Deaf world. When the teacher or a classmate speaks, the interpreter/transcriber translates the spoken words into the language preferred by the Deaf or hard of hearing student. The student likewise participates in the classroom by signing or typing the information and the interpreter voices it (talks) for the class. The interpreter is not meant to be a participant in the classroom, but a communication facilitator, making sure that communication is easily accessible for the deaf and hearing populations equally.

Leaving the classroom when symptoms occur

Some students with medical conditions may need to leave the class if problems due to their medical condition occur. It is recommended that students who have issues during class, email or contact their instructor as soon as possible after the incident occurs and then work with the instructor to make up any missed work. If this happens continuously, SDS recommends that the instructor talk with the student and also talk with SDS to determine appropriate action.


At times some students have difficulty taking notes due to their disability. Some students would benefit from copies of course notes from another student in the class. With the student’s consent, the professor, instructor or teaching assistant can make a general announcement that there are students in the class who have disabilities which preclude them from taking comprehensive notes and that it would be appreciated if other students could give the student with a disability copies of their notes. If a student agrees to be a notetaker, please have them email Disability Services. We request that you conduct this process in the most confidential manner. We do not want other class members to be made aware of which student is requesting the service.

Occasional exceptions to the absentee/tardiness policy

The Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990, specifies that case-by-case exceptions should be made to established policy in order to avoid discrimination on the basis of a disability. The student is required to notify the faculty member as soon as possible. We also encourage them to let SDS know as well. Each faculty member makes the determination as to how many absences in general are acceptable in order to pass the class. In general, this should be no more than 2-3 additional absences. For a student with a disability, we must also look at: What are the essential elements of the course? How many absences would fundamentally alter the student’s ability to experience; or ability to participate in; or to contribute to and demonstrate learning?

Personal care attendant

Some students with significant physical disabilities may require a personal care attendant to travel with them. Depending on the needs of the student, the attendant may or may not sit with the person in class.

Preferential seating

Students who have limited hearing, vision or difficulty with attention, distraction or an ability to focus will need to sit as close to the instructor as possible.

Record lectures

Some students may need to be able to record their lectures due to the nature of their disability. If the material you are presenting should not be indiscriminately distributed due to publishing concerns, copyright concerns or matters of confidentiality, please allow this student to record the class. A separate agreement ensuring that materials are not circulated beyond the class is provided to the faculty member with the accommodation letters.

Testing Accommodations

Additional time

We recommend giving some students additional for in-class tests. The amount of time appropriate is determined based on the student’s documentation. Students do have the option to take their tests at our office. However, in the event that the student might have a questions which would be best answered by someone with knowledge of the subject matter, it is more beneficial for the student if the instructor, a teaching assistant or grader from your class or department proctors the tests.

Alternate exam dates during periods of heavy scheduling

Some students with a variety of disabilities may need to space their exams out in order to allow for their disability to not significantly impact their ability to take their exams. Each case is different. SDS recommends talking about the issues with the student to determine the best way to address this. SDS is also happy to be a part of the discussion.

Alternative testing environment

SDS encourages all students who require testing accommodations to try as best they can to make those arrangements directly with their instructors. However, if this is not possible, students may elect to take their tests in our office. In order to do this the faculty member must complete the testing contract a link to which is attached to the accommodation letter emailed at the beginning of the semester.

Assistive technology

Some students, because of their disability, will require assistive technology to be able to complete their test. They may be able to use a laptop of their own or one from SDS. This accommodation may be needed due to a physical or learning disability which require the use of specialized software, hardware or because the student’s disability makes handwriting extremely messy and organization tends to be disjointed. Using a word processor such as a lap-top allows the student to concentrate on organization and producing a legible piece of work. Students who use assistive technology may also use this accommodation so that they can take their tests with the class. Headphones may be used by the student if a speech output program is needed.

Breaks during exam

Rest breaks during exams allow students a 5 minute break for every 30 minutes of exam time. Rest breaks during exams are necessary for some students who experience significant pain issues, muscle fatigue or who have difficulty with concentration over significant periods of time. Rest breaks are particularly important for exams that require extensive writing. Rest breaks do not count against the allotted exam time. Students are not allowed to work on the exam during rest breaks.


The use of a calculator helps this student avoid mistakes such as reversing or skipping numbers. If a test or assignment is designed to measure the student’s ability to perform functions a calculator would perform then this accommodation is inappropriate.


The student can use earplugs or headphones during exams to reduce ambient noise, as an aid in concentration. The earplugs may not be attached to any electronic device unless provided by SDS, such as an ambient noise machine.

No scantron

Some students due to visual processing issues or visual disabilities, may not be able to transfer their answers to a scantron. In this case, we ask that the student be able to answer directly on the test. If this is not possible, please contact SDS to determine what other options might be available.

Reduced distraction

A distraction reduced testing environment is a setting outside the usual classroom or testing center that limits interruptions and other environmental influences. A distraction reduced testing environment allows for increased control of lighting, noise, or other distractions that may impact student performance in a testing situation. This accommodation can be provided by an instructor or by SDS as long as the student is provided an environment that is quiet without interruptions.


Students who are unable to write their exam independently due to either a physical or visual disability, may require assistance writing (i.e. scribe). However, SDS encourages students to use assistive technology for this purpose as a better way to ensure that their work is completed independently. If assistive technology is not an available or appropriate option given the circumstances, SDS can assist with locating a scribe.

Spell-check or points not taken off for spelling

The use of a spellchecker will help this student and may help the grader by making tests easier to read. If the function of the test or assignment includes measuring spelling ability, this accommodation may not be appropriate.

Print Accommodations

Alternative format production at SDS

Students with a variety of disabilities including, but not limited to, Blind or low vision, physical disabilities and learning disabilities, may require their print materials to be produced in an alternative format (electronic, large print or Braille). Each semester, SDS converts between 50-90 books into an alternative format. This process takes time. Therefore, it is critically important for students to get their books into SDS before they go home for the break at the end of the semester. Faculty can help by getting their book lists into the bookstore early.

In-class materials (handouts)

Students who are blind or low vision will need to have any materials that are needed for the class available in an appropriate alternative format (large print, braille, electronic) so that they have access to the same information as other students. Many times documents can be emailed to them directly from the professor. If this is not possible, SDS can assist with the conversion process. Please submit materials to SDS as far in advance as possible in order to allow time for the conversion process.


Commencement accommodations

JHU and SDS make every effort to ensure that all JHU Commencement events are accessible to graduates and their guests with disabilities. Alternative formats of print materials, Interpreter and transcriber services are available upon request. More information will be posted six weeks prior to commencement on the Commencement website.


Ergonomic furniture is an important accommodation to ensure equal access for students with certain types of disabilities. Working in an environment that is ergonomically sound can reduce strain on joints, decrease pain and fatigue, increase endurance and optimize work efficiency. Conversely, working under non-ergonomic conditions can lead to discomfort, fatigue, repetitive strain injury and unsafe work habits. We will apply a structured problem-solving approach to defining barriers and identifying the best ergonomic or assistive technology intervention for meeting the productivity needs of the student.

Library assistance

Johns Hopkins University Libraries system is committed to providing JHU students with equal access to its resources. To reach this goal, the libraries provide appropriate accommodations to Hopkins students with disabilities. Learn more about library services available to students with disabilities.

Priority registration

Priority registration allows students to register for their classes early in the registration period. Priority registration is granted to students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis when there is a disability-related need. All priority registration requests must be reviewed and approved by SDS. Part of the reason for this may be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Use of Interpreters and/or Transcribers
  • Need for alternative formats of materials (i.e. large print, electronic or Braille)
  • Need to ensure appropriate physical access
  • Need to adjust class schedule due to medical issues

Housing and dining accommodations

Medical documentation is required to request special housing placement. Special housing placements are granted based only on medically-documented need. No request can be considered for any circumstances beyond documented medical needs. All Documents should be submitted to the Student Disabilities Services office. The request will be evaluated and approval or denial will be communicated directly to the student. The types of accommodations provided are dependent on the impact of the student’s disability. Find more detailed information on the Housing Accommodation Process for students with disabilities on the Community Living website.

Hopkins Dining actively strives to accommodate most dietary preferences, allergies and medical requirements. Each of these needs is very individualized and, as a result, we request that if you have a requirement that you contact us to set up a time to meet with Hopkins Dining staff. Find more details on the Hopkins Dining website.

Course substitutions (foreign language and math)

Some students may be eligible for a foreign language or math substitution. Neither of these are automatic because a student is registered with SDS or because they had this accommodation in high school.

Reduced course load

SDS occasionally recommends a reduced course load as an academic accommodation for a student with a disability. Unlike part-time status, authorization for a reduced course load permits a student to register for a course load that is less than full-time, while still being considered a full-time student. Students authorized for a reduced course load are entitled to all services enjoyed by full-time students and will be considered to be full-time students for purposes of financial assistance and student accounts. Twelve credits are considered by the University to be a full-time course load. Students authorized for a reduced course load must speak with their academic advisor and determine their course load at the beginning of the semester.

Moving class to an accessible location and/or providing adjustable height table

Students who need to ensure that their class is located in an accessible building and/or who may need an adjustable height table should make sure to register early and confirm with SDS any of their classes that do not meet these needs. SDS works with the registrar and the individual departments to ensure classroom access. Therefore, it is critical that SDS be notified before the start of the semester.