two female students taking test in a private room, click to enlargeInformation contained in a student's file in the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) is considered part of his or her educational record and is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Information may be released from the file in only three circumstances:

  1. Court order
  2. With the student's written permission
  3. Internally within Northwestern University based on a legitimate educational reason

Guidelines Governing Confidentiality

SSD has developed the following 5 guidelines regarding confidentiality, which are also delineated in the Student Handbook:

  1. All disability-related information including documentation, correspondence, and accommodation records are considered confidential. Northwestern University and SSD  have an obligation to maintain confidentiality on all disability-related information.
  2. Access to disability-related information within SSD is on a need-to-know basis and only for the purpose of assuring appropriate accommodations.
  3. SSD is prohibited by law from releasing any disability records or identifying information to any outside entity. This includes documentation the student provides to SSD when registering with the office.
  4. The student may request, in writing, information to be released to specific persons or agencies by signing a release-of-Information form.
  5. With a signed accommodation agreement form, the SSD staff may discuss specific disability-related information with University faculty or staff in order to assure appropriate academic accommodation.