Disability Services Office
At RIT, the Disability Services Office employs an interactive, student-centered process to determine and approve reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.
Each semester, RIT students are responsible for logging into the MyDSO Student Portal and requesting academic accommodations they wish to use in each of their classes.
What is an Accommodation?
Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments put in place to remove existing barriers for students with disabilities. Accommodations…
- Can apply to the academic, co-curricular, and/or residential environment at RIT.
- Must be honored once approved by the Disability Services Office (and, in the academic environment, once they have been formally requested by the student via MyDSO).
- Are not retroactive and only apply from the date on which they are approved by the Disability Services Office.
- Are a civil right per the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended in 2008) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
If you are experiencing any issues regarding your accommodation(s), please reach out to the Disability Services Office for support.
Learn more about Navigating Access Barriers
Applying for Accommodations
There is no deadline by which students must apply for accommodations. Students may begin the process of applying for accommodations at any point during their time at RIT, though we encourage students to reach out to us about their access needs as soon as possible. The only exception for accommodation deadlines is for housing-related requests. Typically, the deadline to apply for housing-related accommodations is in early May, after which all housing accommodations will stipulate they are approved “pending availability.” Any housing accommodation requests made in the spring term will also be pending availability.
To register with the Disability Services Office, you must first complete our application form. This form asks for basic demographic information, as well as information about the nature of a student’s disability and any previously utilized accommodations, if applicable. Whenever possible, this form should be completed directly by the student in their own words.
In order to establish that a student has a disability and to best understand which accommodations are most appropriate, we ask for documentation of disability from a licensed professional not employed by RIT or NTID.
The Disability Services Office requires both an application form (step 1) and documentation before specific accommodations can be approved. Our office will contact you if the documentation submitted does not meet our needs. Documentation should reflect your current situation.
Disability documentation should contain the following:
- Diagnostic statement identifying the disability
- Description of current functional limitations
- Expected progression or stability of the disability
- Description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications, if applicable
- Recommendations for reasonable accommodations
Many forms of documentation are acceptable and helpful to us, including:
- Medical records
- Educational records (e.g. an IEP or 504 Plan)
- Neuropsychological evaluations
- Diagnostic information from health, mental health, or other service providers
- Vocational assessments
- Military documentation (for those with service-related disabilities)
- Proof of accommodations used on standardized exams (e.g. SAT or ACT)
- Accommodation letters from previous higher education institutions (Please note that the Disability Services Office has no obligation to honor accommodations provided by other educational institutions)
Note: Disability documentation in support of Disability Services Office requests cannot come from an internal RIT office, including the Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS), or NTID Audiology Clinic. The only exception to this policy is in case of temporary disabilities for which the need for accommodations is expected to be less than one term. In these short-term situations, the Student Health Center may provide documentation. If you are struggling to obtain documentation in support of your application for accommodations, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once we have received and thoroughly reviewed your application form and relevant documentation, we will contact you to schedule an initial meeting with a member of the Disability Services Office team. This process can take up to three weeks.
Prepare for your meeting with the Disability Services Office
When you meet with a member of the Disability Services Office staff for the first time, we will have reviewed your application and disability documentation in advance. Our goal during initial meetings is to determine the most appropriate accommodations with you and discuss how to use any approved accommodations at RIT. To help prepare for your meeting with Disability Services, consider these questions:
- What is your disability and its impact in your life? What is your history with disability? Has disability been present throughout your life, or is it a newer experience? In your daily life, when do you feel most impacted/challenged by your disability?
- What barriers are you facing at RIT? Considering the full RIT experience (including academics, co-curricular involvement, and residential life), where do you expect to face challenges? In what settings do you feel at your best? What are you most concerned/worried about in the context of your RIT experience? What led you to reach out to the DSO?
- What accommodations will mitigate disability-related barriers? Have you used accommodations in the past? If so, what worked well? What didn’t work as well? Do you have in mind any specific accommodations that would eliminate disability-related barriers?
Accommodations are determined and approved
Taking into account all sources of information and documentation, including the student’s self-report, Disability Services Office staff then determine and approve reasonable accommodations for students. Depending on the situation, accommodations may be approved and communicated during a student’s first meeting with the Disability Services Office, or may be communicated at a later point.
Review approved accommodations with the Disability Services Office
Once accommodations have been approved, DSO staff will meet with you to discuss the following:
- Student rights and responsibilities regarding accommodations
- How to request accommodations each term (for academic accommodations only)
- When and how to approach instructors
- Any relevant or procedures for accessing accommodations
- What to do if any issues ever arise with accommodations
- How to stay connected with the Disability Services Office, including how to request changes to accommodations, if needed
- Additional campus resources that may be helpful
RIT students are responsible for logging into the MyDSO Student Portal and requesting academic accommodations in each class every term. Once a student requests their academic accommodations in MyDSO, the Disability Services Office will email a formal Accommodation Notification Letter to the instructor. Only those accommodations a student has specifically requested to use in a given course will be communicated in the Faculty Accommodation Notification Letter. It is important to note that, if a student does not request their academic accommodations via MyDSO, they will not be communicated to instructors. Students are able to modify their requests for each class at any point via the MyDSO portal. Learn how to request accommodations in the MyDSO Portal
We are committed to facilitating equitable access to the full RIT experience for students with disabilities. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account what is most appropriate and reasonable for an individual student. While by no means a comprehensive list, commonly provided accommodations include:
The Disability Services Office provides a proctored test center that is available to accommodate for extended test time and/or other approved testing related adjustments due to logistics and/or the student’s disability related needs. Common accommodations for testing include accessing the Test Center, extended time on tests, and computer use for tests.
Learn more about testing accommodations and the Test Center
The Disability Services Office offers a variety of classroom accommodations to support you in achieving academic success. While by no means a comprehensive list, selected common accommodations include:
Permission to Audio Record Lectures: Allows students to audio record classroom lectures and labs. Students must sign the Audio Recording Agreement in MyDSO before use. More information on the Audio Recording Agreement
Personal Laptop or Tablet (with stylus) Use Permitted During Class: Allows students to use a personal laptop or tablet in class to take notes, type assignments, or have access to approved software even if laptops are generally not allowed in a course.
Access to Digital Textbook Files: Allows students to request accessible digital copies of textbook files as needed. Students are able to submit the request as soon as they know which books are needed for each class, however, Disability Services cannot release the PDF files without proof of purchase (or rental). Students must sign the Digital Textbook File Agreement before making specific book requests within the MyDSO student portal. More information on the Digital Textbook File Agreement
Assignment Due Dates Extension: Allows students a specific amount of extended time (e.g. 2 days) to complete classroom assignments. Students must communicate to their instructor their intent to use their approved extended time in advance of each assignment. Extensions may not be possible in some circumstances. More information about the Assignment Due Dates
Peer Note-Taking: Allows students to request the services of a peer note taker as needed. Students must sign the Note taking Assistance Agreement in MyDSO before use. More information on the Note taking Assistance Agreement
Attendance Modification for Disability Related Absences: Allows modification if a student is absent for class sessions due to an immediate disability-related need.
Assignment Due Dates Extended if Needed due to Absence: Allows students extended time to complete assignments due to an immediate disability-related need.
- Test Rescheduling Permitted if Needed Due to an Immediate Disability-Related Need: Allows students to make up a test if absent for test during the class session due to an immediate disability-related need.
In order to align with the RIT housing selection and assignment process, housing-related accommodation requests should be placed as early as possible. All housing requests for current students each fall semester should be made by May 15. Accommodation requests made after this date may result in a "pending availability" status and may not be available before the semester begins.
Note: Students requesting housing accommodations with the Disability Services Office must also submit a housing contract to RIT Housing Operations.
Students who need dietary accommodations, which may include instructor awareness of serious allergies and/or a specialized residential environment, should register with the Disability Services Office and request accommodations. Students with allergies and other dietary needs may be connected to RIT's registered dietician to develop a plan for safe eating on campus.
Service animals are dogs who have been trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability and are permitted to accompany students to classes and other RIT facilities. Assistance animals (e.g., emotional support animals) provide support to a student with a disability within their residence and are not permitted in class or other RIT facilities. Service and assistance animals must be under their owner’s care and control and their behavior must not be disruptive to its surroundings or other members of the RIT community. Any concerns about service or assistance animals should be reported to Public Safety, Student Conduct, or the Disability Services Office. Students requesting an emotional support animal must complete the Documentation Form for Assistance Animal with their provider.
After you have met with staff from the Disability Services Office and have been approved for an assistance animal at RIT, follow these steps in the MyLife portal to complete the Assistance Animal Agreement & Notification process.
For more information, please review the Service or Assistance Animal policy.
The Accessible Van Service (AVS) provides convenient, scheduled service to those who have disabilities or medical conditions that limit mobility. Students must be approved for the accommodation to use the Accessible Van Service by the Disability Services Office. It’s important to note that both students who use mobility devices and others with access needs who don’t use a mobility device are welcome to request the AVS as an accommodation. Academic requests (transportation to and from class) will take precedence over other transportation requests.
The AVS only provides transportation to and from locations on the RIT campus on days when classes are scheduled. The earliest reservation time is 7 a.m., and the latest drop off time is 9 p.m. Riders should be on time for their scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs, as drivers will wait no longer than 5 minutes before moving on to their next stop. Only those approved to ride the AVS may board the vehicle, with the exception of nurses or personal aides, who are always welcome to accompany the student they support.
The AVS has a ramp, and can “kneel” and lower closer to the ground to decrease the height of the step onto the bus. The AVS also includes space and equipment to lock down mobility devices securely, which drivers can assist passengers with. All passengers and drivers must wear a face mask at all times when riding the AVS. The AVS is sanitized and deep cleaned every night by the staff at First Transit, as is the case for all RIT shuttles. Drivers will have hand sanitizer available for use before and after assisting riders.
To request this accommodation, students must fill out the Accessible Van Schedule Form and indicate the days and times pick up and drop off is needed. If you need to change your scheduled pick up and drop off times, you will need to submit a new Accessible Van Schedule Form. The completed form should be emailed to Joel Mazeika, the RIT Transportation Services Manager, at email@example.com.
Changes to Current Accommodations
For students currently receiving accommodations from the Disability Services Office:
If you are interested in requesting additional accommodations or changes to your current accommodations, request an appointment with a member of the DSO staff via the MyDSO Student Portal. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, students with new or changed access needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Disability Services Office recognizes students’ right to confidentiality regarding disability-related information. Maintaining confidentiality is crucial to fulfill our legal obligations and to create an environment where students feel respected, protected, and able to practice self-determination.
Learn more about Confidentiality
Helpful Apps and Software
Assistive technology tools are everywhere! The tools listed here have been chosen to help you complete tasks more quickly, easily, or independently. Many of these are free or low-cost and can be used on a variety of platforms. NYSDSC Adaptive Technology List