Frequently Asked Questions

All FAQs

How do I request disability-related housing accommodations?

Disability-related housing accommodations are modifications to the residential environment for students whose disabilities substantially limit their ability to live in Columbia’s traditional housing arrangements. These accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, according to documented need, and prevailing standards for reasonable accommodations. Housing accommodations are granted after a determination of the student’s disability status and a determination that his or her particular disability necessitates adjustments to the living environment. For more information, please see the Housing Accommodations page.

How do I make a medical appointment?

Use our secure appointment portal, Open Communicator, to make an appointment online, or call us at (212) 854-7426.

How do I find out my Primary Care Provider?

When you log into Open Communicator you will be able to see or change your Primary Care Provider. Using the website secure.health.columbia.edu you may log in and confirm your identity, and then able to edit your profile, which will enable you to determine or change your primary care provider.

Where is Medical Services located?

Columbia Health Medical Services is located on the 4th floor of John Jay Hall.

Why are there Clinical Care Teams in Medical Services ? Can I use any of them?

Each of the Clinical Care Team has physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and support staff. Students are randomly assigned to a team. We encourage you to continue to plan your appointments within the same team for the best possible, continuous care. You can easily change your designated provider when you make an appointment through Open Communicator or by phone, but we encourage you to stay within one team as much as possible.

Staff biographies are available to learn more about your Primary Care Provider (PCP) and your practice group or identify others.

Can I be seen the same day at Medical Services?

There are appointments available every day for “same day service” within your practice group. Generally, you can search for “same-day” appointment up to 18 hours ahead of the appointment. You may also contact Medical Services starting after 8 a.m. if you’re unable to locate an available appointment online.

 

What can I do when I cannot schedule a same day or future appointment at Medical Services?

In the rare instance that you are unable to schedule a same day or future appointment please use Open Communicator and send a secure message to your provider. Our appointment system reserves some appointments every day for “same day services” and allows other appointments to be booked up to two weeks in advance.

What is the best way to contact my Medical Services provider?

Contact your provider by logging into Open Communicator and sending a secure web message by using the “Message” button.

How long do medical appointments last?

Most appointments last 20 minutes; however, women’s health appointments are 30 minutes.

What should I do if I need to see a medical provider when I am away from Columbia?

When you are away from Columbia and unable to come to Medical Services for an evaluation, you should call or send a secure web message on Open Communicator directly to your PCP. That way we are aware of your problem and can prepare a referral for you if necessary.

If it is an urgent problem you can be seen in the Emergency Room or an Urgent Care center without a referral.
 

Top Viewed FAQs

How do I make an appointment with CPS?

Please call 212-854-2878 to schedule an appointment to speak to a counselor at CPS.

How do I make a medical appointment?

Use our secure appointment portal, Open Communicator, to make an appointment online, or call us at (212) 854-7426.

Why does CPS schedule a first appointment by phone?

Students requesting an appointment for individual counseling for the first time will be scheduled for a confidential phone screening with a CPS counselor. The purpose of this conversation is to clarify and assess your needs and explore options for next steps.

Is it true that there is no additional cost for a visit at CPS?

Yes, it’s true! Students who have enrolled in Columbia Health are eligible to be seen at CPS.

Can I be seen the same day at Medical Services?

There are appointments available every day for “same day service” within your practice group. Generally, you can search for “same-day” appointment up to 18 hours ahead of the appointment. You may also contact Medical Services starting after 8 a.m. if you’re unable to locate an available appointment online.

 

Is the treatment at CPS confidential?

Strict standards of confidentiality are maintained in all of our clinical services. Within Counseling and Psychological Services and Medical Services, clinicians work as a team and consult with one another, as needed. When necessary to insure the quality and coordination of health care, there may also be communication between the two clinical services and other divisions of Columbia Health.

The clinical services maintain secure and private treatment records. These records are not part of students’ educational records and are not available to students’ deans or faculty. To further protect the privacy of students, Columbia Health requires students' written consent to release information about their care.

There are rare exceptions to the right to privacy and to the confidentiality practices described above, such as in situations that pose a threat to life or in which there is reason to believe a child is being abused.

If you have questions regarding our confidentiality policies, please contact  the Assistant Director for Operations, Sara Berger at (212) 854-3101.

How is my Medical Services Provider assigned?

Your Medical Services Provider is randomly assigned to you when you first enroll at Columbia University.  However, you are welcomed to change your health care provider whenever you like simply by informing our front desk staff.

Do I need the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan to access services at CPS?

No. You do need to enroll in Columbia Health, which provides access to on-campus medical and mental health services. The Columbia Health Insurance is used to access any off- campus services and resources.

What is the difference between STI testing at Medical Services and HIV testing at GHAP? Can they both administer the tests?

HIV testing and counseling are performed by counselors through GHAP. You will be provided information specific to HIV/AIDS, how testing is done, and safe sex practices. You will also be given the opportunity to ask questions. STI testing is performed by a medical provider at Medical Services. Common STI tests include Syphillis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.

Do I need an appointment for emergency contraception?

Visit Medical Services during hours of operation if you need emergency contraception immediately or schedule a same day appointment with a Medical Services provider. Most emergency contraception must be started within 72 hours.

By Topic

Disability Accommodations and Services

I’m unable to use the Low Library steps connecting College Walk to Upper Campus and need to access an elevator, how do I do this?

There is an elevator located on College Walk adjacent to the east side of Dodge Hall (closer to Broadway) that connects upper and lower campus. This elevator has restricted access. For access to this elevator:

  • Students should contact Disability Services to activate access through their CUID card to the elevator. Faculty or staff should contact HR Disability Services for access through their CUID card to the elevator.

  • Visitors with disabilities should use the intercom/call box located at the elevator entrance.

What should I do if I feel like my accommodations are not sufficient?

For details about this matter, please review the information about Supplemental Accommodations.

What should I do if I am having difficulty arranging accommodations for one of my classes?

Students who are having difficulty arranging their accommodations should contact Disability Services.

How do I request disability-related housing accommodations?

Disability-related housing accommodations are modifications to the residential environment for students whose disabilities substantially limit their ability to live in Columbia’s traditional housing arrangements. These accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, according to documented need, and prevailing standards for reasonable accommodations. Housing accommodations are granted after a determination of the student’s disability status and that his or her particular disability necessitates adjustments to the living environment. For more information, please see the Housing Accommodations page.

How do I access note-taking services for my courses?

Students must submit a note-taking request form each semester. Disability Services recommends that student submit their requests at the beginning of each semester and should allow up to two weeks for note-taking services to be coordinated for each class.

I am registered with Disability Services, how do I coordinate my exams with accommodations?

Students must submit a complete Testing Accommodation Request Form at least two weeks in advance in order to take an exam with accommodations at Disability Services. This form must be completed and signed by your professor in order to complete your request to take your exam at Disability Services.

What is assistive technology and what is available at Columbia?

Assistive technology is any item, computer software, hardware or piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Examples of assistive technology include screen magnification software, screen reading software, voice recognition software, Braille translation software, accessible computer or laboratory stations, reading and writing software, and electronic textbooks. Disability Services has a full-time Assistive Technology Specialist who works with students, faculty, and staff to assess their need for assistive technology. The AT specialist also trains students, faculty and staff on such software and/or equipment.  
 

Sexual Health

What is the difference between STI testing at Medical Services and HIV testing at GHAP? Can they both administer the tests?

HIV testing and counseling are performed by counselors through GHAP. You will be provided information specific to HIV/AIDS, how testing is done, and safe sex practices. You will also be given the opportunity to ask questions. STI testing is performed by a medical provider at Medical Services. Common STI tests include Syphillis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.

General Health

I submitted my form weeks ago, why do I still have a hold on my account?

If you have already submitted your records, it is likely that the information does not fulfill all of New York State’s requirements. If you have not received an email message regarding your compliance status, you may contact us at hs-enrollment@columbia.edu or you may leave a message at (212) 854-7210. Please include your full name and Columbia UNI so we can review your records. We usually respond within one business day.

Learning and Other Disabilities

Who should I contact if I have any questions or concerns regarding accessibility at my event?

Disability Services is available to provide guidance in planning events. Contact Disability Services at 212-854-2388 or access@columbia.edu with questions or concerns regarding your event.

Who is responsible for ensuring accessibility?

It is the responsibility of the event planner/host to ensure that the event is accessible and that all reasonable requests for accommodations are met. For this reason an Event Accessibility Checklist is available to assist in selecting an off-campus site for your event and can also be used to ensure the accessibility of on-campus events.

Do I have to provide a service if it has not been requested?

The ADA requires a good faith effort to meet all reasonable requests for accommodations. For this reason, Disability Services recommends that costs for accommodations such as sign language interpreters, real-time captioning, assistive listening devices and alternative format media production should be considered early on in choosing a space and developing an event budget. Most accommodations can be made at little or no cost, if planned for in advance.

Which events need to be accessible?

All on and off-campus University events must be held in a wheelchair-accessible location. This includes, but is not limited to, meetings, exhibits, tours and events both on and off-campus.

Why does my event need to be accessible?

It’s Columbia University policy, and it’s the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require that Columbia University ensure that its programs, services, goods and facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities, whether held on- or off-campus. Columbia is committed to event planning that minimizes barriers and cultivates a welcoming and inclusive environment.

For how long can I work with a Learning Specialist?

Students work with our learning specialists to establish priorities and determine a personalized agenda for their time together.

Do you know of any other resources that may be helpful?

How do I make an appointment with the Learning Specialist?

Students should contact Disability Services by phone or email to schedule an appointment with the Disability Services Learning Specialist.

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.

How do I report a broken elevator, automatic door opener or lift on campus?

I need to access an elevator to avoid the Low Steps (which will take me from College Walk to Upper Campus), how do I do this?

Visitors with disabilities should alert a Public Safety officer for assistance using the elevator to Upper Campus upon arrival at Columbia or use the intercom adjacent to the elevator. The elevator is located on College Walk at the east side of Dodge Hall. Visitors may also wish to check the Columbia University Access Map for detailed information.

Students should contact Disability Services to activate access through their CUID card to the elevator. Faculty or staff should contact HR Disability Services for access through their CUID card to the elevator.

What should I do if I want to attend an event, but am not sure if the location is accessible?

Contact Disability Services to confirm the accessibility of the venue. If the location is not accessible, Disability Services will relocate the event to an accessible location. Two weeks advance notice is required.

What buildings/venues are accessible at Columbia?

For more information about accessible buildings and venues, please check the Columbia University Access Map available in the Campus Accessibility section of this site.

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.

I am registered with DS but not currently eligible for note-taking services, how do I request this?

If you would like to request note-taking services (or any other additional accommodations,) submit a Request for Supplemental Accommodations form.

How long does it take for my request to be reviewed?

Housing Accommodation requests are reviewed on the first Tuesday of every month. Once your request is reviewed, you will receive an email with the decision letter to your Columbia email address by the end of that same week.
All requests for disability housing accommodations, along with all of the required documentation and forms referenced above, must be submitted by the following dates:

  • Incoming first year Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students: May 1st for the Fall semester and November 1st for the Spring semester
  • New Columbia Engineering Combined-plan Transfer students: June 30th for Fall semester and November 1st for Spring semester.
  • All other Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students: February 1st for the following Fall semester and November 1st for the Spring semester

While applications submitted after these dates will be accepted and considered, Columbia cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet late applicants’ accommodation needs, including any needs that develop during the semester.

What should I include in my personal statement?

Your personal statement should include all pertinent information to why you are requesting each specific accommodation. Your personal statement should explain to the committee members why your requested accommodations are necessary for you to live in Columbia University housing.

How are housing accommodations determined?

In collaboration with Columbia University’s undergraduate and graduate housing departments, these accommodation requests are determined by committee on a case-by-case basis, according to documented need and prevailing standards for reasonable accommodations. Housing accommodations are made after a determination of:

  1. The student’s disability status
  2. Whether his or her disability necessitates adjustments to the living environment
  3. Available housing options.

Who can receive a foreign language substitution?

Students with learning, speech, hearing or other disabilities that significantly impact their ability to acquire a foreign language may request a course substitution or modification to the foreign language requirement. Foreign language substitutions are not available for undergraduate majors or graduate programs when studying a new language is essential to the field of study.

What are the substitute courses?

DS does not determine substitute courses for students who are granted this accommodation.  The substitute courses are decided by the student’s Advising Dean and/or appropriate academic official from the student’s school.

Are any other accommodations or modification to the foreign language requirement a possibility?

At times students may request a modification to the foreign language requirement and/or accommodations for foreign language courses.  These modifications may include the elementary sequence of two different languages, or a P/D/F grade option.  

Registered students should contact their Coordinator to discuss these possible modifications. Additionally, students may request additional accommodations specifically for their foreign language courses which may include permission to tape record the lectures, note-taking purposes, and adjustments to the class participation requirement.

How do I know if I should apply for a Foreign Language Substitution?

Having a learning disability alone is not a valid predictor of success with language acquisition. Some students with learning disabilities may be successful in learning a foreign language by utilizing the following resources:

  • Consult with academic advisor when selecting a specific language to study
  • Use approved accommodations through Disability Services
  • Attend office hours or alternate sections of the course
  • Receive tutoring services (Language Resource Center)
  • Use the Language Lab
  • Work with a Disability Services Learning Specialist to develop compensatory strategies

When should I submit my request?

Disability Services recommends that students request this accommodation by the end of their sophomore year for undergraduate students and at the start of their academic program for graduate students. Requests will be considered at any point during the student’s academic program; however, requests made near the completion of the program may delay the student’s graduation.

How long does the process take?

Disability Services generally requires 4-6 weeks to evaluate this request, which includes a review of the materials requested above and consultation with your previous professor(s) or other University officials.

What AT is available at Columbia?

DS’ current inventory includes digital tape recorders, CCTVs, Pulse and Echo Smart Pens, ABBY Fine Reader, TextHelp, Dragon (standard version, for Mac, Medical and Law versions), Math Type, Kurzweil, large print keyboards, JAWS and Mac Speech.

How do I request assistive technology and/or alternate formats?

Students not registered with Disability Services: If you have a disability and believe that you could benefit from accommodations involving assistive technology and/or alternative formats or other accommodations, please fill out a Registration Form.

Students registered with Disability Services who are approved for such accommodations: Once you are eligible for this accommodation, please speak with your coordinator. Your coordinator and the AT specialist will work closely with you to provide you with the necessary materials to accommodate you.

Students registered with Disability Services who are not approved for such accommodations: If you are interested in using alternative formats and/or assistive technology devices, you should fill out a Request for Supplemental Accommodations form. Your coordinator will then review your eligibility for the aforementioned accommodations.

Faculty and Staff: If you are interested in using assistive technology and/or alternative formats as an accommodation, please contact Hana Bloch at hb356@columbia.edu. Hana will be able to work with you to make sure that your accommodation needs are met.

Who uses assistive technologies?

Students with physical disabilities, psychological disabilities, chronic medical conditions, Learning Disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injuries, AD/HD, students who are Deaf or Hard-of Hearing or students who are blind or have low vision all use assistive technologies. Additionally, students with temporary injuries may use assistive technologies during their recovery.
 

How can I obtain the reading lists for my classes before the semester begins?

  • Students are encouraged to go to course works to obtain the required readings from each syllabus as soon as possible.
  • If the syllabus is not available on course works, students are encouraged to contact his or her professor directly or check with the campus bookstore.
  • If the student’s reading list is still unavailable, the student’s coordinator will assist the student in obtaining a copy of the reading list, so that alternative formats can be requested for the student as soon as possible

What formats are available?

Most students often request alternate formats such as PDF, Microsoft Word, large-format in print, and DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System used for “talking books”). If there are other formats that you are more comfortable using that were not mentioned above, please let us know. We would explore a student’s request to determine if the preferred format is possible.

Campus Access and Events (Disability Services)

I want to take a tour of the campus, and I have a physical disability – will it be accessible?

Request a “no step” tour when scheduling a tour with the Visitor’s Center. Disability Services staff is also available to provide access tours of the campus for current Columbia students.

I need a wheelchair, does Disability Services have one I could borrow?

Yes, Disability Services has several wheelchairs available to borrow on a temporary basis depending upon availability. Please contact Disability Services to inquire about availability.

I have a service animal, what do I need to know about bringing it to campus?

I am attending an event at Columbia, how do I make arrangements for accommodations?

Contact Disability Services at least two weeks in advance to request disability accommodations. Certain accommodations, such as sign-language interpreting services, require advance notice to coordinate.

I want to take a tour of the campus, and I have a physical disability – will it be accessible?

Request a “no step” tour when scheduling a tour with the Visitor’s Center. Disability Services staff is also available to provide access tours of the campus for current Columbia students.

Someone requested a Sign Language Interpreter or other accommodation for an event I am hosting. What should I do?

Submit a request to Disability Services at least two weeks in advance of the event. Requests made less than two weeks’ notice cannot be guaranteed.

I am attending an event at Columbia, how do I make arrangements for accommodations?

Contact Disability Services at least two weeks in advance to request disability accommodations. Certain accommodations, such as sign-language interpreting services, require advance notice to coordinate.

Registration with Disability Services

I am a faculty/staff member with a disability, how do I register?

Faculty and staff with permanent or temporary medical conditions may have a spectrum of needs that can be addressed by HR Disability Services including:

  • To arrange permanent or temporary accommodations in your workplace.
  • To assist you in understanding the benefits available to you during a medical leave and the documentation you need to submit.
  • To ease your transition from a medical leave back to a job with the University.

 Whatever your circumstances, we encourage you to contact HR Disability Services for a confidential consultation.

What qualifies as a disability?

A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits an individual in one or more major life activities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADA AA). In general, major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. Disability Services also provides assistance to students with temporary injuries and illnesses that are substantially limiting.
 

If I am requesting academic/classroom/campus in addition to housing accommodations, do I need to submit separate documentation?

If your need for academic/classroom/campus accommodations is directly related to your need for housing accommodations, you do not need to submit separate documentation but rather your documentation should address the need for all requested accommodations.

If your need for academic/classroom/campus accommodations is unrelated to your disability-related need for housing accommodations, then separate documentation is required to appropriately address the non-related requests.
 

I am a visiting student, what type of disability documentation do I need to submit?

Visiting and Exchange students must submit a letter from their home institution confirming the accommodations they receive there.  Upon review, DS will advise if additional disability documentation is required.

How long does it take to register with DS?

It typically takes up to 3 weeks to complete the DS registration process.

What types of disabilities or medical conditions qualify for accommodations?

Any condition that meets the ADA definition of a disability may qualify for accommodations. The condition must substantially limit a major life activity in order to be considered a disability and there must be proof of current impact.
 

Do I need to register with Disability Services to request housing accommodations?

You do need to submit the Registration Form if you are only requesting housing accommodations.  Should you require academic/classroom/campus disability accommodations, you must submit the Registration Form to make such requests.

What type of documentation is required for temporary injuries (e.g. concussion, broken limb)?

Various types of disability documentation are acceptable for temporary injuries including but not limited to discharge papers from the hospital, a completed Verification Form or letter written by a Physical Therapist, etc.

Please come to DS or call during drop-in hours to determine if short-term, immediate assistance is possible pending your submission of documentation.  If possible, please bring a completed Registration Form with you.

My disability documentation is not in English, can I submit it anyway?

Disability documentation must be in English. However, you may submit a translated copy along with the original document. All translations must be done by a qualified professional and notarized.

My disability documentation is outdated, can I submit it anyway?

The answer to this question depends on your disability type.  Please refer to the following information for documentation requirements per disability type.

LD/ADHD

If you are diagnosed with a Learning Disability or AD/HD and your outdated documentation is a neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation and the measure used in the testing are adult measure, you may submit this documentation for consideration of your request for accommodations.

Please note if you are diagnosed with AD/HD but have not undergone a neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation, your provider may complete a Verification of AD/HD form in order for our office to consider your temporary eligibility for accommodations (generally one semester).

Psychological

For psychological diagnoses, documentation must be no more than 6 months old.

Chronic Medical Condition

For chronic medical conditions, documentation must be no more than 6 months old.

Visual, Hearing, or Physical

If you have a chronic visual, hearing, or physical condition that is variable in nature, your documentation must be no more than 6 months old.   

If you have a chronic visual, hearing, or physical condition that has not changed in the last year, please submit your most recent disability documentation for review.  Our office will then determine whether or not more recent documentation is required.

How do I notify my professors that I am registered with Disability Services?

During the first few weeks of each new semester, students are required to present Disability Services Accommodation Letters to each of their professors. To request these letters, students must submit the Accommodation Letter Request Form. Students will receive an email when the letters are prepared and ready to be picked up from Disability Services. Student must return signed letters to Disability Services after each professor reviews and signs the letter.

What kind of disability documentation do I need to provide with my registration form to Disability Services?

Disability Services has established general documentation guidelines as well as documentation guidelines for specific disability categories, including learning, sensory, and psychiatric disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Refer to these guidelines for the detailed documentation requirements.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Reasonable Accommodations are adjustments to policy, practice, and programs that “level the playing field” for students with disabilities and provide equal access to  programs and activities at Columbia University. Examples of accommodations may include the administration of exams with extended time or in a smaller proctored environment, while services may include note-taking, sign language interpreters, assistive technology, and coordination of accessible housing needs. Accommodation plans and services are customized to match the disability-related needs of each student and are determined according to documentation and the student’s program requirements.

How are reasonable accommodations determined?

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis after Disability Services considers the student’s needs as described in their disability documentation. Faculty also have the opportunity to consult with Disability Services on the final determination of accommodations for each of their courses and students. Some accommodations may be appropriate in one course or program, but not in another. For example, an accommodation of extended time might be appropriate for a course with in-class timed exams, but might not be in a course where students are evaluated solely based on papers or group presentations.

Does Disability Services evaluate students for learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Disability Services can provide students with referrals for local area medical providers and agencies that perform psycho-educational and neuropsychological evaluations for learning disabilities or ADHD. Disability Services does not perform or fund evaluations for learning disabilities or ADHD. Students who think they may have ADHD or learning disabilities, or who need an updated evaluation should contact Disability Services to set up an appointment to discuss their needs.

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.

Disability Services Confidentiality

If I register with Disability Services, will it show up on my permanent record or transcript?

No, neither your registration with Disability Services nor approval for accommodations is indicated in any way on your Columbia transcript.

General Disability Services Information

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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

Visit our contact us page.

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.
 

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.

Last updated September 25, 2017