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Student Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations refer to the modifications necessary to ensure that College requirements do not discriminate against students with disabilities or have the effect of excluding students on the basis of disability.  A reasonable accommodation helps to minimize, as much as possible, the limitations resulting from the disability and provides the individual with an equal opportunity to participate in College programs and activities.  The College is not required to make a modification that it can demonstrate would substantially alter an essential element of a College requirement, standard or program.

Student Disability Services coordinates accommodations for students with learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, chronic medical conditions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD), psychological disabilities, and orthopedic/mobility disorders.  Accommodations may include extended time on timed tests, alternate formats for print materials, captioning, ASL interpreters, note-takers, scribes, lecture notes, permission to audio record lectures, short-term extensions, assistive software and elimination of physical barriers.  We will always consult with faculty members in advance if there is any question about whether an accommodation will alter a fundamental course or program requirement.

Accommodation Letters

Once a student has registered with Student Disability Services, Director Monica Vance will prepare a formal Accommodations Letter.  Students are given copies of the letter to share with each of their professors.  We encourage students to arrange individual meetings with their faculty as soon as they receive the letter, so that there is an opportunity to meet privately to discuss needs.  Please be aware that disability status and accommodations are highly private.  Please do not share students' information with others unless the student has given you explicit permission. 

Student Disability Services is not able to provide retroactive accommodations.  Students must register with the Office first and submit appropriate clinical documentation of a disability.  Accommodations begin once the student has received a formal accommodations letter.  At times, even after receiving a letter from our Office, some students may elect not to utilize an accommodation.

We will aim to contact you well in advance of a course if we discover that a student's needs require additional preparation time (e.g., arranging scribes, lab assistants, electronic course materials, captioning, etc).  Some course materials (e.g., electronic texts, recordings, Braille or tactile diagrams) can take weeks to arrange.  At times, students may develop disability concerns during the course of the semester.  We will do our best to give you as much notice as possible.

Testing Accommodations

Typically, arrangements for testing accommodations are made directly between the faculty and the student.  Students are expected to contact their faculty at the beginning of each semester to request their testing accommodations for scheduled exams and quizzes and discuss the arrangements.  Students are also expected to notify/remind their faculty at least two weeks prior to a scheduled exam or quiz that they would like to use their testing accommodations.  Failure to adhere to this timeline may result in the student forfeiting use of their accommodations for a particular exam.  Faculty may deny a student’s request to use their accommodations if there is not a reasonable amount of time to arrange them.  Faculty may allow a student to reschedule an exam using their accommodations at a date and time that does not conflict with the student’s course schedule.

If the faculty is unable to proctor an exam for a student who needs testing accommodations, the faculty must submit an Exam Proctor Request Form to Student Disability Services to request a proctor.  The completed form must be received by the Office at least two weeks before a scheduled exam to secure a proctor.  Student Disability Services will assist with reserving separate testing locations for final exams and mid-term exams, if needed.  Visit the Exam Proctoring page for more information.

Privacy Note for Faculty and Staff​

Swarthmore College respects the privacy of its students.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) governs all student record information.  All information concerning student disabilities and accommodations is kept separately from student academic files.  This information is confidential and will not be released to third parties without the written permission of the student, except in circumstances involving matters of health, safety, and law.  Information regarding student disabilities and requests for accommodation is available to College faculty and staff on a need-to-know basis.

Please avoid discussing accommodations for students in public.  We encourage you and the student to meet individually to discuss your course and any accommodations arrangements.

Please contact Director Monica Vance by email or phone (610-690-7358) or email Student Disability Services at if you have any questions or concerns.


Swarthmore College respects the privacy of its students.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) governs all student record information.