The Extension School is committed to creating an accessible academic community. If you are a student with a disability, we will ensure that you have equal opportunity to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from our academic programs. The disability services coordinator works with you, faculty, and staff to provide appropriate services to ensure you have a rich and rewarding academic experience.

Defining a disability

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts a person from performing major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or caring for one’s self. An impairment or diagnosis does not necessarily constitute a disability; it must substantially limit these activities.

Eligibility

You are eligible if you otherwise meet the academic and technical standards necessary for admission into a program or participation in a course.

Physical accessibility

Harvard Extension School is committed to ensuring that its courses and classrooms are accessible to students with disabilities. Some buildings require keys or access cards. Check with the disability services coordinator at least two weeks before classes begin to ensure uninterrupted access to classrooms.

Accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services

The disability services coordinator works collaboratively with students to identify appropriate academic accommodations that do not fundamentally change the nature of the course or academic program. Additional nonacademic services are also provided for students with mobility, hearing, and visual impairments. Accommodations may include the following:

  • Extended time for in-class exams and in-class assignments. Extended time for exams is generally time and a half. Exams administered with extended time begin earlier than the rest of the class to provide extra time and to allow the proctor to return the completed exam to the professor before the end of class. For example, 5:30 to 7:30 pm exams are scheduled for 4 to 7 pm and 7:35 to 9:35 pm exams are scheduled for 6 to 9 pm.
  • Exams administered in a distraction-free environment
  • Note-taking assistance. The Extension School uses peer note-takers for students who are approved for this accommodation. Note-takers are volunteer students enrolled in the same course as the student. 
  • Course materials converted to e-text. Texts in alternative formats such as e-texts and enlarged print materials are available for students with vision impairments. It can take as long as six to eight weeks to convert materials to digitized formats. Submit requests for materials in alternative formats before the term begins to ensure enough time to convert your materials to the appropriate format.
  • Exams in large print
  • Communication access real-time translation (CART). CART services and American Sign Language interpreters are available for students with hearing impairments. Requests for interpreters must be made at least two months before the start of the term.
  • Interpreters
  • Use of adaptive technology
  • Scribes
  • Readers
  • Van service. On-campus van services and accessible parking are available to students with mobility impairments. The disability services coordinator reviews all requests for van services.
  • Accessible parking. To request accessible parking, please contact the disability services coordinator at disabilities@dcemail.harvard.edu. Current medical documentation is required to qualify for this accommodation.

Comprehensive tutorial services are not available; nor are personal attendants, personal adaptive technology, readers and scribes for private use; or other services of a personal nature.

Adaptive technology

An adaptive technology laboratory at 53 Church Street is equipped with software and hardware to assist students with disabilities. You may have access to voice recognition software, text-to-speech software, screen magnification applications, and a closed-circuit television or video magnifier. 

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking version 10 is speech recognition software that allows students to dictate to the computer and interact with a computer using their voice instead of a keyboard. The student can open icons, browse the Internet, and work in Windows applications. You train the system to recognize your voice. You are responsible for creating your own voice file and maintaining it on your own storage device.
  • Kurzweil 3000 version 10.4 is a PC-based text-to-speech system designed for students who struggle with reading. It allows you to view a scanned page on the computer screen while listening to the text as it is read aloud. It speaks and highlights the text simultaneously and enables you to insert typed or spoken notes anywhere in the document. It also contains study skills and reference tools. Files can be stored in Word, Kurzweil, Daisy, and mp3 formats.
  • Kurzweil 1000 version 11 is a text-to-speech software designed for students who are blind or have low vision. The software reads dialog boxes as well as materials that have been scanned. You can also type within scanned documents while the software reads what is being typed. Files can be stored in Word, Kurzweil, and mp3 formats.
  • JAWS (Job Access Windows with Speech) version 10 is a screen reader that enables students who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the Internet and most Windows-based applications by using keystrokes to input data and commands. 
  • MAGic version 11 screen-magnification software helps students with low vision view information on the computer screen. You can customize backgrounds and font colors, the appearance of the cursor, and the level of text magnification. MAGic also has speech output that announces events as they display on screen.
  • Video Magnifier (closed-circuit television) enables students with visual impairments to magnify printed materials by placing them under a camera, which then projects a magnified image onto a screen.

Temporary disabilities, injuries, and temporary services

If you have a temporary disability or injury, you are not considered disabled by the law. But if you need services or accommodations to complete your courses, call the disability services coordinator as soon as possible to discuss options.

How to request an accommodation

1. Complete and submit a request-for-accommodation form for each course and each semester in which an accommodation is requested in addition to current medical documentation.

Submit requests forms and documentation no later than:

  • August 30 for fall courses
  • December 13 for January session courses
  • January 24 for spring courses

Requests are reviewed and approved in the order they are received. It can take as long as two weeks to review a review and approve a request for accommodation and to coordinate the arrangements. For CART and ASL services, please make your request at least three weeks before the start of classes in order to allow enough time to make the necessary arrangements.

Documentation for physical and psychiatric disorders must be no more than a year old. Generally, documentation for ADD, ADHD, and learning disabilities must be no more than three years old. Returning students do not need to resubmit their documentation or provide new and additional documentation each term unless requested by the disability services coordinator; however, all students (new and returning) must submit the request-for-accommodation form for each term and each class in which they are requesting accommodations. Refer to the clinical documentation guidelines below to ensure that your documentation is appropriate and complete before you submit it.

2. Set up an appointment with the disability services coordinator to discuss the accommodations you have requested. Meetings may be in-person or via the telephone. Do not approach your instructor about accommodations; accommodation requests are reviewed and implemented by the disability services office.

Clinical documentation

All requests for accommodations must be supported by recent clinical documentation from your healthcare provider. Individual education plans such as those developed during high school are insufficient. The disability services coordinator maintains a list of qualified professionals to assist with metacognitive issues and other concerns. If you use these services, you assume financial responsibility for them. Download the guidelines below for specific documentation requirements.

Confidentiality

Documentation and information regarding requests for accommodations and disabilities are confidential. Information is shared only with those who have a legitimate need to know. The disability services coordinator may share some information with instructors and others to coordinate the students’ accommodations.

Grievances

The Extension School makes every effort to provide equal access to its programs and courses by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations. If you disagree with the approved accommodation or you have a concern involving discrimination on the basis of a disability, promptly provide a written statement of their concern, with supporting medical documentation, to the disability services coordinator. All grievances must be filed within 90 days of the alleged act of discrimination.

If the disability services coordinator cannot resolve the grievance independently and promptly, he or she will convene a committee to review the matter. The committee will comprise the associate registrar, the director of undergraduate degrees, the dean of students, and as a nonvoting member, the disability services coordinator. The committee may contact the instructor, program managers, or other appropriate personnel to discuss the requested accommodations, as needed. The committee may also request additional medical documentation or an independent medical evaluation on the request for accommodation.

In cases where timeliness of an accommodation is important, every reasonable effort will be made to complete each stage of the process set forth above within 10 working days, unless the circumstances require a more rapid response. In some situations, it may be appropriate to provide the requested accommodation on a provisional basis, without obligation to continue the accommodation if it is found to be unreasonable or inappropriate.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the committee, you may appeal in writing to University disability services at disabilityservices@harvard.edu. Information about the University grievance process is available at www.accessibility.harvard.edu. In most circumstances, the University disability coordinator will not overturn the decision of the committee unless presented with new information or other grounds that warrant a different outcome.