Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to reveal the corresponding answer. FAQs regarding food allergies and other dietary conditions are also available. In addition, we have faculty FAQs. Please contact AccessibleNU with any questions not included on this page so that we can update it and make it more useful to everyone who views this page.

What is AccessibleNU?

AccessibleNU (ANU) is the center that oversees implementation of academic and programmatic accommodations for students with disabilities. Through ANU, students can make arrangements for testing accommodations, books in alternate format, assistive technology, Sign Language interpreting, and other accommodations as determined appropriate through the interactive process.

How do I know if I qualify for accommodations?

Any student with one or more condition that interfere with major life activities may qualify for accommodations. AccessibleNU provides services to students with various conditions including, but not limited to:

  • learning disabilities
  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • sensory impairments
  • mobility impairments
  • diagnosed psychological conditions
  • chronic medical conditions
  • life-threatening food allergies
Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. If you are unsure if you qualify for accommodations, please call the ANU staff at (847) 467-5530, or email AccessibleNU.
I've been admitted to Northwestern, When should I start the AccessibleNU application process?

Congratulations! We look forward to working with you and appreciate your interest in planning ahead. You are welcome to fill out our online application at any time. You can also submit your documentation to ensure it meets our criteria for registering, but please keep in mind the following caveats:

  1. We will review documentation and schedule intakes for fall incoming students starting over the summer and continuing through the beginning of the school year. We ask that new students be patient as we complete the year and finish the spring quarter with our current students.
  2. We will not review documentation for students who have not yet accepted Northwestern's offer of admission.

How are reasonable accommodations determined?

Accommodations will be determined after careful consideration of your documentation, your need for accommodation (which is ascertained, in part, through our intake meeting), and program requirements.


To put AccessibleNU in the best position possible to be of assistance accommodation requests should generally supported by documentation from a qualified professional, such as a physician, psychologist, or learning specialist who is unrelated to the student.


In general, the documentation you provide must be comprehensive enough to allow the AccessibleNU staff to make informed decisions about reasonable accommodations. It should include:

  • the name of the condition
  • a description of the tests or measures used to determine the condition
  • a description of how the condition impacts your major life activities
  • recommendations for adjustments
Keep in mind that recommended adjustments in your documentation will not automatically be approved as reasonable accommodations by ANU staff. Additional information about our documentation criteria is available.
What is the procedure for receiving accommodations at Northwestern?

To be eligible for any accommodations at Northwestern, students must register with AccessibleNU. This includes:

  • completing the application
  • submitting documentation
  • meeting with AccessibleNU staff to cooperatively determine accommodations

To utilize approved accommodations in class, each quarter you must alert your professors by requesting an accommodation notification through the ANU database. Once the notifications have been sent, you are also asked to meet with each of your instructors to discuss details such as whether your instructor can proctor your test or alerting them that assistance is needed soliciting a note-taker.

Can accommodations be applied retroactively?
No, accommodations can only be applied to instances following the date of approval? They cannot be applied to anything that has happened prior to approval.
Does Northwestern offer a foreign language waiver?

No. Northwestern offers no course waivers, for foreign language or other courses, even if you had a foreign language waiver in your previous schooling.


However, for students whose disabilities adversely impact foreign language acquisition and who provide documentation that clearly demonstrates this adverse impact, Northwestern has a unique, research-based model of providing individualized support to students while they take required foreign language courses. In fact, many students who are convinced they cannot complete the foreign language requirement for reasons related to their disability are able to do so with the accommodation of a Language Proficiency Advisor. Please see our information on course substitutions for more information.

Will any information regarding my disability be printed on my transcript?
No. No special indicator appears on your transcript. AccessibleNU follows a strict confidentiality policy. This means that no academic institution to which you transfer or attend after Northwestern, no future employer, nor any other third party would be aware of your condition unless you request, in writing, that ANU notifies that third party.
Will my professors automatically be notified each quarter once I register with AccessibleNU?
No, professor notifications are not automatic. To utilize an accommodation, you have a responsibility to request an accommodation notification through the ANU database. This must be done in advance of using the accommodation and it is strongly recommended that you notify any professor of any needed accommodation by the end of week 2 of each quarter.
Will the accommodation notification share details about my condition?

No. Accommodation notifications state only that you have provided documentation that meets our criteria for registering and, as such, you have been approved for particular accommodations.


Although instructed not to, professors may occasionally ask about your condition; however, you can say you prefer to keep this information to yourself unless you are inclined to share.

How can I find out if I have attention-deficit disorder or a learning disability

To determine if you have one of these conditions, it's important to be evaluated by an experienced evaluator, which may include:

  • neuropsychologists
  • clinical/school psychologists
  • psychoeducational or learning specialists
  • psychiatrists

For planning purposes, understand that a thorough evaluation for learning and attention concerns typically takes at least 6 hours sometimes spaced over multiple days. Because of how involved the evaluation process is, you may have to schedule the evaluation months in advance. It may also take some time to receive the full report once it is complete.


If you contact AccessibleNU, we can provide you with recommendations for reputable, reasonably priced evaluators. You can also ask for recommendations through your health insurance provider.

Is it expensive to get evaluated for a learning or attention problem?

Evaluations tend to be expensive. However, AccessibleNU works with reputable local evaluators, including Northwestern's Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning, to establish discounts for NU students, especially if you have Northwestern's student health insurance.


In addition, ANU can work with Student Financial Services to try to procure additional grant aid to cover any evaluation costs.


Also, Student Enrichment Services' SEEN Fund may be used to cover evaluation costs for low income and first generation college students.

Are there costs associated with getting documentation necessary to register with AccessibleNU from my provider?

Most doctors and mental health providers will complete ANU's verification forms at no cost. 


Locally, if you have a medical condition, it's possible that Health Service can complete AccessibleNU's Medical Disability Verification Form on your behalf.  Also, if you have a psychological condition and are connected with Counseling and Psychological Services, the Women's Center, the Family Institute, a therapist there may be able to complete AccessibleNU's Diagnosed Psychological Conditions Verification Form on your behalf.


If you are having difficulty procuring documentation of your condition, please contact AccessibleNU, and we'll work with you and other campus partners such as Student Assistance & Support Services, Student Enrichment Services, the SEEN Fund, Student Financial Services to assist.

Should I share my documentation or information about my condition with Admissions?

You should not share your documentation with Admissions as this will not be considered as part of your application.


The only potential exception would arise if you feel your condition may have adversely affected some aspect of your application materials--for example, perhaps your GPA was adversely affected prior to diagnosis and receipt of accommodation. In these cases, you may want to briefly reference your condition and how it impacted you where relevant in an application essay.

I'm a non-engineering student who needs accommodations on the math placement test. What do I do?

All non-engineering students who intend to take a mathematics course numbered 212 or above need to take the math placement test offered through Weinberg. For accommodation consideration, please follow the steps to register with AccessibleNU and alert ANU (accessiblenu@northwestern.edu) of your desire for placement test accommodations. ANU will then coordinate with the placement test coordinator to ensure you receive accommodations.


Students may contact Dr. Aaron Peterson with specific questions about AP/IB credit and the mathematics placement exam.

I am an incoming engineering student who needs accommodations on my math and/or physics assessment in the McCormick Dossier. What should I do?
Please follow the steps to register with AccessibleNU and alert ANU (accessiblenu@northwestern.edu) of your desire for placement test accommodations. Once approved, ANU will then coordinate with the McCormick to ensure you receive accommodations.
How do I get accommodations on the Chemistry placement test?

All incoming first-year students are required to take the initial chemistry assessment. In order to receive extended time or other accommodations on the placement test, students should register with AccessibleNU and alert ANU (accessiblenu@northwestern.edu) of your desire for placement test accommodations. Once approved, ANU will then coordinate with the placement test coordinator to ensure you receive accommodations.


Email Dr. Fred Northrup with specific questions about AP/IB credit and the placement exams.

As an incoming student, how can I receive extended time on foreign language placement tests?
Foreign language placement exams are not time-limited.