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Accommodations Process for Students

Student Disability Services (SDS) staff works with students with disabilities to identify disability accommodations that allow equal access to college programs and services.  The accommodations process is designed to be collaborative. 

The overall steps in the disability accommodations process are:

  1. Submit a disability accommodations request form in mySwarthmore. 
  2. Provide disability documentation to SDS.
  3. Meet with an SDS staff member and discuss your request.
  4. SDS staff review your request and notifies you of decisions.

If you have questions or have difficulty along the way, please reach out to an SDS staff member so that we can try to help or see the Appeal Process. This is a general description and there are more details on each step in the relevant sections of the website, including the below sections on this page.

For any approved academic accommodations: Each semester, you also need to request academic accommodations letters for your professors in mySwarthmore. SDS staff will always copy you when sending accommodations letters to professors. Each semester, you must also meet with your professors to discuss implementation of the accommodations in each course. After you are registered with the office, Director Monica Vance and Assistant Director Traci Huppman will work with you, your course instructors and any other relevant faculty or staff to facilitate reasonable accommodations that will not fundamentally alter the academic standards of your courses. 

Please be aware that accommodations are not retroactive.  

Accommodations at the College Level

Rules that govern disability services in college differ from those for K-12 programs.  Therefore, accommodations in college may vary from those received during high school.  In college, it is the student's right and responsibility to request accommodations.  Privacy laws restrict the sharing of certain types of information with others (including parents) without the student's expressed written consent.  To learn more about the transition of students with disabilities to postsecondary education, see the Office for Civil Rights transition guide for students.  Student Disability Services staff is happy to answer any questions you may have.


Swarthmore College respects the privacy of its students and adheres to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regarding the privacy of student record information.  All information concerning student disabilities and accommodation is kept separately from student academic files. Information regarding student disabilities and requests for accommodation is available to College faculty and staff on a need-to-know basis.  This information is not normally released to anyone outside the College without a student’s prior written consent, unless otherwise permitted or required by law.

Registering with Student Disability Services 

  1. Schedule a meeting with a Student Disability Services staff member to discuss your request(s).  Current and incoming students may contact Monica Vance directly or email
  2. If you have never requested accommodations from Student Disability Services previously, please complete the Accommodations form in mySwarthmore.  Select the Personal Information tab, then Accommodations in the menu. 
  3. Meet with Student Disability Services staff for an intake meeting in person or by phone or video.  At this meeting, you will discuss your experiences and how they are impacted by your condition.  You might also discuss potential accommodations you might find helpful.  The accommodations process is designed to be collaborative.  Student Disability Services will ask you some questions regarding your experiences to better understand and support your request for accommodations. 
  4. Have a licensed professional complete the Disability Verification Form.  Submit the completed form to the Office for review. Other formal documentation may be accepted as well. Please review the Documentation Guidelines.
  5. Student Disability Services will review your request in a timely manner and notify you when a decision has been made regarding your accommodations request. 

If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Director Monica Vance (610-328-7358) or see the Appeals Process.

Arranging Accommodations Each Semester

  1. If you would like to use your approved accommodations in one or more courses, you must request accommodation letters to share with your course faculty by completing the Accommodations form in mySwarthmore.
  2. You are encouraged to request your accommodation letters before the start of each semester.  We strongly recommend that you request your accommodations letters no later than one week after the Add/Drop deadline, since some accommodations take time to arrange.
  3. Once you have completed the form, we will draft accommodations letters and we will email a copy to you and to your course professors. 
  4. If you wish to use your accommodations in classes taken within the Tri-Co, you must request your accommodation letter from Swarthmore's Student Disability Services and share it with your professor at Bryn Mawr or Haverford College.  If you are taking a class at UPenn, we will issue you an accommodation letter that you must share with the Disability Services office at UPenn.  This letter will be accepted as disability verification.  UPenn's Disability Services office will issue a separate letter that you must share with your UPenn professor.
  5. Students are expected to speak with their professors about using approved accommodations in their courses. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their professors within the first two weeks of the semester or within a week of receiving a new approval letter to discuss any disability-related concerns they may have in a particular course. We recommend that students and faculty discuss in advance any accommodations for extensions on assignments, extended time on exams, rescheduling exams, or absences from class.  
  6. Students who wish to utilize their approved testing accommodations must speak with their faculty at the beginning of each semester and at least two weeks before a scheduled exam to make arrangements.
  7. For Seniors: Seniors who require accommodations for Honors written and/or oral exams, must notify Student Disability Services early in the Spring semester .
  8. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Director Monica Vance (610-328-7358) or see the Appeals Process.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Students with disabilities have a right to:

  1. Reasonable accommodations, appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services as necessary.
  2. Privacy with regards to disability-related information, except as disclosures required or permitted by law.
  3. Equal access to programs, activities, courses and services.

Students with disabilities have the responsibility to:

  1. Meet all academic requirements of the College.
  2. Disclose their disability to the the office of Student Disability Services, if requesting accommodations.  Please note, reviewing accommodation requests takes time, therefore it is recommended that students begin the process in a timely fashion.  Accommodations are not retroactive  
  3. Provide the required documentation of disability.
  4. Arrange meetings with their professors to discuss accommodation letters provided by the office of Student Disability Services.
  5. Follow the procedures for requesting accommodations each semester.

College Rights And Responsibilities

the College Has the right to:

  1. Establish and maintain requirements and standards for admission to the College, and for participation in its courses, programs, services and activities.
  2. Request current, relevant documentation that verifies a disability and the need for reasonable accommodations.
  3. Determine reasonable accommodations.
  4. Deny a request for an accommodation
  • if the student fails to provide current relevant information verifying a disability and need for the requested accommodation,
  • if the request is for a retroactive accommodation, or
  • if the request requires a fundamental alteration of a course, program or service.
  • if the request would pose an undue financial burden on the College.

the College has the responsibility to:

  1. Ensure that admissions policies and procedures are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner with regard to individuals with disabilities.
  2. Ensure that programs, services and activities when viewed in their entirety are accessible.
  3. Provide appropriate reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services in a timely manner.
  4. Maintain appropriate confidentiality of disability-related information.

Utilizing Testing Accommodations

You are expected to notify your faculty at the beginning of each semester that you would like to use your testing accommodations.  You should meet with your faculty in person, so they can discuss the course exam schedule  with you.  If a proctor is needed from Student Disability Services, your faculty will complete an Exam Proctor Request Form.  This form will include the dates, start times, and durations of your exams for the semester and will be sent to Student Disability Services so that arrangements can be made.

You must also remind your faculty two weeks before each scheduled exam to ensure use of your testing accommodations.  Failure to notify your faculty in advance may result in not being able to use your accommodation for a particular exam, if there is not a reasonable amount of time to make arrangements.  Last minute requests to use testing accommodations may not be honored.

It is your responsibility to discuss scheduling conflicts and make-up exams with your faculty in advance.  If your extended time overlaps with another class time, your exam should be rescheduled in advance.  Your faculty must approve your request to reschedule or make up an exam.