Reasonable Accommodations and Services

What Are Reasonable Accommodations?

student using reading and magnification software on a computer screen at SSD office, click to enlarge

Reasonable accommodations are individualized and flexible based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment. They provide equal access, not an unfair advantage.

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, or activity that enables a qualified student with a disability to obtain equal access. Equal access means an opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to a similarly situated student without a disability. Only the peripheral requirements of courses, programs, and activities are subject to modification; essential elements of courses, programs, and activities must remain intact.

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act & The Americans with Disabilities Act

The University is obligated to make a reasonable accommodation only for known limitations of otherwise qualified students with disabilities. In other words, students with disabilities must register with SSD in order to qualify for reasonable accommodations.

To determine reasonable accommodations, SSD may seek information from appropriate University personnel regarding essential standards for courses, degree programs, and/or activities. Final determination of reasonable accommodations is made cooperatively between SSD, the student, and the University community.

How are Reasonable Accommodations Determined?

Reasonable accommodations are determined by examining:

  1. The barriers resulting from the interaction between the documented disability and the campus environment
  2. The possible accommodations that might remove the barriers
  3. Whether or not the student has access to the course, program, service, or activity, without accommodations
  4. Whether or not essential elements of the course, program, service, or activity are compromised by the accommodations

Please visit our common exam and academic accommodations page to give you a better idea of some accommodations that are typically granted to students registered with SSD.

Assistive Technology Available to Qualified Students

student wearing headphones and taking test at a computer, click to enlarge

SSD provides general access to public computing sites and facilitates individual accommodations. Assistive technology is located on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. There are accessible workstations available in SSD and the main Evanston library computer center. The software and equipment available to eligible students includes:

  • Text-to-speech software (Read & Write Gold)
  • Speech-to-text software (Dragon Naturally Speaking) Available for use in Deering Library LCL.
  • Screen-enlarging software (ZoomText)
  • Screen-reading software (Jaws)
  • Audio textbooks or e-text 
  • FM assistive hearing devices
  • Braille translation software and embossers
  • Video print enlargers (CCTVs)
  • Accessible workstations

Please contact Clay Littrell clayton.littrell@northwestern.edu if you have any assitive technology questions.