Disability Services

Disability Services facilitates equal access for students with disabilities by coordinating accommodations and support services, cultivating a campus culture that is sensitive and responsive to the needs of students.

Students seeking accommodations or support services from Disability Services are required to register with the office. If you are interested in pursuing an evaluation for a learning disability, please visit the referrals and other campus resources page.

Mission

Disability Services empowers students with disabilities to realize their academic and personal potential by facilitating equal access and coordinating accommodations and support services for eligible students. This approach is consistent with the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and places an emphasis on a student’s ability and independence.

Please see below for additional helpful information:

Registering with Disability Services

Disability Services Drop-in hours

Grievance Information and Procedures

Information about Commencement Week from Disability Services.

Event Planning and Accommodations

Disability Services Liaisons

Attendance and Course Deadlines for Students with Disabilities

FAQs

How do I register with Disability Services?

Registration includes submission of both the Disability Services Registration Form and disability documentation. After review of a student’s documentation and registration form, Disability Services will coordinate services and accommodations based on eligibility. The review process generally takes two to three weeks. An appointment will be scheduled for an orientation session to review policies and procedures. Disability Services works with students with various types of disabilities including learning, physical, hearing, visual, psychological, and chronic medical conditions.

What does Disability Services do?

Disability Services facilitates equal access for students with disabilities in all areas of University life, including housing, technology and library access, campus access, Commencement and Class Day access/services for students and guests with disabilities, and student activities and programs.

Disability Services works with students with all types of disabilities, including physical, learning, sensory, psychological, ADHD and chronic medical conditions. Disability Services also provides assistance to students with temporary injuries and illnesses.

Disability Services also has a full-time learning specialist, who is available to meet with students with disabilities on an individual basis. Work with the learning specialist generally focuses on developing compensatory strategies and skills related to global learning concerns, for example procrastination, organization, note-taking, test-taking, presentation skills, among other topics.

Which schools and programs at Columbia does Disability Services work with?

Disability Services serves students in the undergraduate and graduate programs at Columbia University, including programs at the Columbia University Medical Center campus. Disability Services does not serve students at Columbia affiliated institutions (i.e., Barnard College, Teachers College, Jewish Theological Seminary, or Union Theological Seminary). These institutions have distinct offices to serve students with disabilities. However, Disability Services does work with students who are in joint programs registered in the affiliated institutions and in Columbia degree programs or classes.
 

Where is Disability Services located and what are the office hours?

Visit our contact us page.

I'm interested in working for Disability Services. What positions do you have available and how do I apply?

Disability Services hires Columbia, Barnard, and Teachers College students for a variety of positions, including note-takers, exam proctors, text editors, readers, research and office assistants. Students are hired each semester for these positions. If you are interested, please contact Disability Services for more information.

I'm having difficulty with a couple of my classes. What can Disability Services do to assist me?

Disability Services offers a variety of support services to Columbia students, including individual consultation and skill-building workshops that address time management and organizational skills. Disability Services also has a full-time learning specialist available to meet with students with disabilities on an individual basis. Work with the learning specialist generally focuses on developing compensatory strategies and skills related to global learning concerns. If you are interested in meeting with the learning specialist please contact Disability Services and a staff member will be in touch to further address your needs.

Disability Services does not provide content-based tutoring or evaluations for learning disabilities. However, Disability Services can provide information about on- and off-campus services to address these concerns. Students are also encouraged to speak to their program or academic advisor to discuss their concerns. Some on-campus resources students have found helpful include:

Are there services that Disability Services does not provide?

Disability Services does not diagnose learning disabilities or ADHD nor provide funding for diagnostic evaluations. Disability Services also does not provide personal services, including but are not limited to, content-based tutoring, reimbursement for transportation, ADHD coaching, personal care attendants, medical treatment, or private transportation around campus.

Should I disclose my disability status on the admissions application?

Columbia University does not inquire or require students with disabilities to disclose their disability status on the admissions application. Decisions around disability disclosure are personal ones that should be carefully considered. Once students are admitted, they should contact Disability Services to begin the Disability Services registration process to ensure that accommodations and services are in place for the start of their courses.

How do high school services differ from college disability services?

Below we have provided a summary that highlights these differences. Understanding these differences will help to ensure a smooth transition period for students with disabilities. We have also included information that is specific to our program for students with disabilities.

In high school, teachers or other school personnel identify students who were in need of services, provide free assessments, and develop Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s) based on these assessments. These plans may have included a modified curriculum, specialized instruction, tutoring, academic accommodations and services of a personal nature.

In contrast, postsecondary education requires students with disabilities to be much more self-directed about gaining access to the key accommodations they need. While K-12’s emphasis is on ensuring students’ success, postsecondary disability services is focused upon "leveling the playing field" for students with disabilities so that they have equal opportunity and equal access. With these important distinctions in mind, the following represent key features of Disability Services at Columbia:


  • Students must self-identify with Disability Services to request accommodations
  • Students also must provide documentation that meets Disability Services' guidelines of their condition/disability. Colleges are not responsible for assessing or determining students’ disability status or related needs.
  • Higher education institutions, including Columbia, review students’ documentation and determine their disability-related needs for academic adjustments and reasonable accommodations. Eligibility for specific accommodations may differ from high school to college.
  • Reasonable accommodations are coordinated by Disability Services and may provide eligible students with accommodations and support services such as extended time on exams, note-taking services, textbooks and other materials in an alternate format, as well as sign-language interpreting, CART and C-Print services. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis according to documentation and academic and program requirements.
  • Additionally, services of a personal nature, including tutoring, are not considered reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the two laws that govern the provision of accommodations at the college level.
  • Students are expected to follow the established procedures for receiving reasonable accommodations in order to maintain their eligibility for such accommodations.
How can I obtain a copy of my disability documentation from my file at Disability Services?

Please contact Disability Services to request a copy of your documentation or letter confirming your registration and eligibility for specific accommodations. Requests to send documentation via fax, U.S. Postal Service, or to another college or university must be submitted to Disability Services in writing or from the student’s Columbia email address.

Do I have to inform Columbia that I have a disability?

No, a student can decide not to disclose his/her disability status. However, the student is not eligible for accommodations until the registration process is completed. This process can take two to three weeks. Eligibility for accommodations is not retroactive.

What is your policy on confidentiality?

The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulates disclosure of disability documentation and records maintained by Disability Services. Under this federal act, prior written consent by the student is required before Disability Services may release disability documentation or records, except under very specific circumstances. For more information, please review the Disability Services Policy on Confidentiality.

Last updated April 22, 2014