Temporary Medical Conditions

Is It a Temporary Condition or a Disability?

Temporary medical conditions such as injuries, surgeries, or acute illnesses are generally not regarded as disabilities. This is because the degree of functional limitation and the duration (generally shorter than 6 months) of such impairments are usually not substantial enough to cause a temporary condition to be considered a disability. Many of the academic concerns that arise related to short-term conditions, such as additional absences, can be addressed through Health Service. Moreover, accommodations requested related to routine pregnancy should be directed to the Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

Northwestern does, however, recognize that temporary medical conditions, including complications from pregnancy, that occur during the school year may adversely affect a student's ability to fully participate in class. Below are strategies and resources that may be beneficial for someone who is temporarily incapacitated with one of several common conditions.

Potential Issues Due To Temporary Conditions AccessibleNU Recommendations
Missed Class, Deadlines, or Exams

Many of the academic concerns that arise related to short-term conditions, such as additional absences, missed deadlines, or missed exams, should be addressed through Health Service.

Taking exams

If your temporary injury affects your ability to complete an exam in the allotted time, discuss the possibility of extra time with your professor. If needed ANU may be able to loan a computer to the proctoring professor. ANU may also be able to proctor if the professor cannot.

Note Taking

ANU recommends either asking a friend for copies of their notes or downloading the 30-day trial of Sonocent Audio Notetaker. Sonocent allows the user to record and code audio and link it to PowerPoint slides reducing the amount of writing and/or typing necessary in note taking.


Windows Speech Recognition and Mac Dictation are built in speech recognition options that offer sufficient alternatives to writing or typing on a temporary basis.


Download Read&Write Gold to have your electronic text read aloud. Northwestern offers this text-to-speech software free to all students. 

Res Hall Room Access

Residential Services can typically assist with procuring an elevator key if warranted and may be able to assist in having your on-campus room relocated to the first floor or to a building with elevator access (subject to availability). 

Classroom Access

AccessibleNU can typically assist in relocating classrooms if necessary.

Mobility Aids

Health Service has a wheelchair loan program available for students for up to a 48-hour period. After that, we recommend students rent wheelchairs or other mobility-assistance devices from an outside company, such as Koeber's Medical Supplies in Skokie, IL.


Unfortunately, Northwestern does not have a system to provide short-term, point-to-point transportation to and from classes or medical appointments. Students have found success relying on the campus shuttles, Uber, or Lyft.


If you have a disability license plate, or a temporary (or long-term) parking pass, you can show proof to Parking Operations and purchase a parking permit without ANU approval. The pass allows you to park in any non-reserved space in a Northwestern lot.

If you don't have a disability placard/plate, you need to register with ANU as ANU would need to approve requests for purchasing a parking permit.

Course Load

Work with your academic advisor to facilitate discussions with faculty on modifying your course load. If your professor is seeking illness verification related to an absence, please contact Health Service. Sstudents with temporary conditions also sometimes need to apply for a medical leave of absence through Student Assistance and Support Services until their condition has improved.

To Register or Not to Register?

If AccessibleNU is in a position to assist (e.g., we relocate a class for you), we need you to fill out our online application and provide basic verification of your injury from a medical professional. Even if professors or TAs are addressing your injury-related arrangements themselves, professors may also ask you to register with AccessibleNU to verify your condition and allow us to make recommendations for reasonable adjustments. If you have a temporary injury or condition and would like to consult with AccessibleNU, please contact Associate Director Aggie McGrane via email or at 312-503-4042.