Housing Accommodations

RAs sining at the annual Midnight Scream
Swarthmore College provides support services and reasonable accommodations to students with medical and/or psychiatric disabilities who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Housing Accommodations

The Student Disability Service and the Office of Student Engagement are happy to work with students with documented disabilities to identify appropriate accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (amended 2008), Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Fair Housing Act.  Housing accommodations may include living in a building that has an elevator, a tile floor environment, access to air conditioning during the College’s cooling months, etc. An accommodation is not considered reasonable if it fundamentally alters the essential requirement or nature of a program, service activity or class.

Special housing accommodations require advanced planning and documentation of disability.  Please plan many weeks in advance to give yourself time to gather any necessary medical documentation of disability. It can take some medical clinicians several weeks to prepare documentation, and it takes time for the College to review the documentation. If you would like to request accommodations, we ask that you please contact the Office of Student Engagement by Friday, April 8, 2016 in order to allow ample time to review requests. 

Members of the Class of 2020 will receive more information in their Orientation Packets about how to request disability housing accommodations.

Students who would like to apply for housing accommodations should begin the process by filling out the Housing Accommodation Request Form. This form must be filled out by the student and is only available on the Swarthmore network.  You must use your official Swarthmore email address and ID.

Students must apply for accommodations each year, even if you have had accommodations in the past. Depending upon your request, we may not need you to resubmit documentation, but we do need you to reapply each year so that we can ensure that your needs will be met.  Accommodations are not guaranteed to carry over from one year to the next.  We will review existing documentation before asking for any additional information.  

After receiving your request, the Office of Student Engagement will consult with Leslie Hempling, Director of Student Disability Services.

If your request is approved without additional documentation, you will be contacted prior to the blocking deadline.

If additional documentation is required, you will be contacted by Rachel Head, Isaiah Thomas or Leslie Hempling.  Please review the Sudent Disability Service guidelines for clinical documentation at Student Disability Service Documentation Guidelines.  Unfortunately, copies of prescriptions and brief doctor notes do not typically meet the documentation requirements that the College needs in to determine eligibility ADA accommodations.  We encourage you to share the documentation guidelines with your clinician.  Documentation should be on signed, official letterhead and may be mailed, faxed or scanned/emailed directly to:


Leslie Hempling, Director of Disability Services

500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081

Email: lhempli1@swarthmore.edu  Fax: 610-328-8487  Phone: 610-690-5014


We encourage you to start the process early, as it can sometimes take several weeks for medical providers to prepare documentation.  We will do our best to review your documentation quickly, but do know that it can take time during busy times of the semester. Please plan well in advance of each semester’s start date. Do not hesitate to contact Director of Disability Services Leslie Hempling if you have any questions or concerns at lhempli1@swarthmore.edu

Please note:  Disability Housing Accommodations are intended for individuals with a clearly documented physical, medical, psychological or learning disability that substantially limits their ability to function daily in a residence hall environment.  There is a difference between a Disability Housing Accommodation and a housing preference.  Student preferences for certain types of housing (ground floor, residence hall location, proximity to friends, etc.) cannot generally be granted, whereas reasonable accommodations can be provided to students with documented disabilities.  Extenuating circumstances will always be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  If you believe you have an extenuating circumstance, please contact Rachel Head (rhead1@swarthmore.edu) or Isaiah Thomas (ithomas1@swartmore.edu)

A special note about Air Conditioning Requests:  Due to the generally mild climate in Swarthmore, PA, the residence halls are not air conditioned, nor are students permitted to provide air conditioners for their rooms except in rare instances of approved accommodations. As part of the standard furniture and room arrangements, many student rooms are carpeted.  Students with allergies and asthma generally do well in this environment without any special arrangements.  If severe allergies or asthma form the basis of an ADA accommodation request, thorough medical documentation of disability may be required. 

There are a limited number of rooms with air conditioning capabilities.  If you are approved for air conditioning, you must select into an available room that can support air conditioning.  These may include residence halls that are not on center campus. A list of available rooms will be provided to students who are approved for the accommodation.  Generally this means:


Rising Sophomores = double rooms with a/c capabilities in DanaWell, Strath-Haven, Woolman

Rising Juniors = double or single rooms (depending on availability) with a/c capabilities in Alice Paul, DanaWell, David Kemp, Mertz, Parrish West, Strath-Haven.

Rising Seniors = double or single rooms with a/c capabilities in Alice Paul, DanaWell, David Kemp, Mertz, Parrish West, Strath-Haven.