Accessibility Services Office (ASO)

The Harvard Extension School is committed to providing an accessible academic community. To that end, the Accessibility Services Office (ASO) offers a variety of accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities, permanent and temporary injuries, as well as, chronic conditions.

 We engage you, your instructor(s), and staff on an individualized, case-by-case basis to provide you with an equitable opportunity to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from our academic and residential programs. It is an interactive assessment with all parties bringing their expertise to accommodation process.

When and How to Request an Accommodation

When

Accommodations must be requested each semester for every class as accommodation decisions are tied to specific course content and learning assessments.

We strongly encourage you to make requests as early as possible to avoid delays. Ordinarily, a request can take up to 2 weeks to process. For requests that involve 3rd party providers, such ASL and CART services, or, require alternative formats of course materials including Braille, a minimum of 4 weeks is needed prior to the start of the semester to ensure timely delivery of services for the first day of classes.

To help ensure timely delivery of accommodations you need to make requests by:

  • August 15th for the Fall semester,
  • December 1st for January session,
  • December 15th for Spring semester and
  • May 15th for Summer semester. 

Requests submitted after these dates will be reviewed in the order they are received. 

HOW (new students)

Four steps are necessary to register with the Accessibility Services Office (ASO) and request an accommodation. You need to:

  1. Register for courses as accommodations are tied to specific course requirements.
  2. Then, register with the ASO by creating an account on the Accessibility Services Access Portal (ASAP). The portal is your one-stop shop to engage with the ASO team. You are required to create an ASAP account in order to make accommodation requests, upload documentation, view accommodation decision letters, and schedule appointments.
  3. Complete the self-disclosure form via ASAP.
  4. Submit documentation that meets ASO guidelines via ASAP.
  5. Participate in a Welcome meeting with an ASO team member.

To create an ASAP account, complete the following steps after you register for courses:

  1. Log into Online Services.
  2. Select the menu item “Request Accommodation”.
  3. Select the “Register” button on the portal
  4. Select “Accessibility Services Access Portal Account creation", complete the self-disclosure form, and upload required documentation. If the documentation is not available at the time of filling out the self-disclosure form, you can return to the portal at a future date. Please note that documentation must be received before accommodation requests can be evaluated.

When your ASAP account is set up and ASO receives the clinical documentation, we will email you to schedule a student Welcome Meeting within the next two weeks.

HOW (returning students)

To make it easier to request accommodations semester to semester, the ASO has streamlined the process through Accessibility Services Access Portal (ASAP). 

After you register for courses, log in to Online Services:

  1. Select menu item "Request Accommodation."
  2. Select "Accessibility Services Access Portal” button.
  3. Select “Accommodation” option from the menu to reveal more options.
  4. Select “Semester Request” option.
  5. Select "Add New” button; then choose the semester from the drop-down menu. This action will bring you to a screen where accommodations can be requested.

If your condition has changed and you are requesting different accommodations from what you've received in the past, you will to need to schedule an appointment with an ASO team member (via the portal).

Necessary Documentation

All requests for accommodations must be supported by clinical documentation that is pertinent to the disabling condition. There are only two distinctions regarding clinical documentation requirements, (1) Health Conditions and (2) Learning and Attentional Conditions. Please see the guidelines in the links below. The ASO has also created a Clinician Verification Form that can be used in lieu of the documentation identified in the guidelines. If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 617-998-9640. 

Guidelines

Forms:

What is a disability?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2008 define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts a person from performing one or more 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.

Temporary Disabilities and Services

You are not considered disabled if you have a temporary illness or injury; however, you may be in need of services or accommodations similar to those provided to students with permanent disabilities. If you are a student with a documented temporary illness or injury, contact the ASO as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Accommodations

Academic accommodations are adjustments and modifications that provide an equitable academic opportunity for students with disabilities. Academic accommodations are designed to provide equal access to courses and programs, but they do not guarantee an outcome or a level of achievement.

The purpose of accommodations and modifications is to reduce or eliminate any disadvantages that may exist because of your disability. Accommodations are not student preferences; they are determined through an established review process based on documentation received regarding the student's disability. The law does not require institutions to waive specific courses or academic requirements considered essential to a particular course or program. Rather, they are mandated to modify existing requirements on a case-by-case basis in order to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against on the basis of their disability.

Accommodations Provided by the Harvard Extension School

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. The list below is not exhaustive and does not apply to all conditions.

  • Assistive Technology for in-class use or exams.
  • ASL Interpreters
  • Captioning
  • Computerized Access in Real-time Translation (CART) services
  • Course materials converted to accessible formats
  • Exams administered in a distraction reduced setting
  • Extended time for in-class timed assessments of 6 hours or less
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Parking. If you have a mobility impairment, you can submit medical documentation to the ASO for accessible parking and complete the parking application at the transportation office located in the Smith Campus Center. For more information about parking, please visit parking services. Parking fees apply.
  • Van service

Available Adaptive Technology Resources

An adaptive technology laboratory at 53 Church Street is equipped with a variety of software and hardware to assist students with disabilities. In addition, many personal computer systems come with assistive technology already installed. Below are types of assistive technology available to students. When consultation is needed on how to use an assistive technology, appointments can be made with the ASO Assistive Technology Administrator.

  • Text-to-Speech programs read digital text out loud using a computerized voice. The text can be in a web browser, a PDF, or other text-based formats.
  • Speech-to-Text programs allow users to dictate the information they need typed. Speech-to-Text generally has a steep learning curve as users need to dictate punctuation and text. Users train their system to recognize their voice in order to improve the program’s ability to understand what is being said.
  • Screen Reader programs allow users to navigate their computer with only the use of a keyboard and an audio output rather than depending on a screen to navigate a computer.
  • Magnification software programs allow users to increase the size of the electronic information presented on their screen or a selected portion of the screen. Some magnification software has features that allows the user to customize color contrast and fonts.

Please be aware that we do not provide equipment and your personal computer must meet technical requirements established by DCE.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

You have the right to equitable access to courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities available through the Harvard Extension School; reasonable and appropriate accommodations, determined on a case-by-case basis; appropriate privacy of all information pertaining to your disability as required by law; and information reasonably available in accessible formats.

Medical documentation and requests for accommodation remain private within the ASO and are protected by the Family Education Rights Portability Act (FERPA).  Most often accommodations can be effectuated with little or no information about one's condition known to the faculty, teaching assistant, advisor, and other members of the Harvard community.  In circumstances where the condition is life-threatening (e.g., anaphylaxis in the presence of some substance) the ASO shares only the amount of information necessary to ensure safety and effectuate the accommodation. 

You have the responsibility to meet the Harvard Extension School’s qualifications and essential technical, academic, and institutional standards; identify yourself in a timely manner as an individual with a disability when seeking an accommodation; provide documentation from an appropriate professional source that verifies the nature of the disability, functional limitations, and the need for specific accommodations; and follow specific procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

All accommodation requests need to go through the ASO. If you do not use ASO’s established process, it is not considered an accommodation by the school and carries no protections or guarantees under the ADA.

Grievance Process

The Schools of Harvard University do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, gender identity and expression, or other legally or policy protected status in the university’s services, educational programs, and activities. The ASO works with students who have concerns related to disability. We respect each individual’s rights to file a grievance under the law. When complaints occur, the complainant should trust that the registering of a concern will have no impact on our collaborative working relationship.

Grievance procedures across the various schools at Harvard University differ. In the Division of Continuing Education, the first step in the majority of instances where an individual is dissatisfied with a DCE decision or treatment is to seek informal resolution through a reconsideration request.  You may request reconsideration of accommodation decisions (including eligibility decisions) made by the ASO on the basis of (1) a failure of judgment, (2) failure of process, or (3) failure of information.

To request reconsideration, schedule an appointment with Linda Sullivan, Executive Director, to discuss your concerns (see contact information below). If the informal, reconsideration request does not produce appropriate results, you have the option of filing a formal grievance with the ASO.

Formal Grievance

To file a formal grievance with the ASO based on the belief that your rights as an individual with a disability have been violated, submit via email to the ASO office a written statement regarding the alleged acts of discrimination within 30 days of the underlying adverse action. Grievances will be handled in a prompt and equitable fashion, affording the grievant appropriate process. In cases where the Executive Director has already completed a thorough review based on a reconsideration appeal, an internal DCE committee will be convened to review the formal grievance.

University-Level Grievances

If the grievant is dissatisfied with the outcome of an inquiry, he/she may file an appeal with University Disability Resources. For more information regarding that process please consult the University Disability Services webpage.

For a complete version of this grievance policy and procedures, log into ASAP, then choose the "Resources" tab.  Alternatively, we are happy to provide a copy of the complete policy upon email request.

Appointments? Questions?

If you want to schedule an appointment, log in the Accessibility Services Access Portal (ASAP) via Online Services. You can also view the Announcements section of ASAP for planned office hours for the semester. If you have a quick question, just email us at accessibility@extension.harvard.edu. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Eastern time.

Contact Information

Accessibility Services Office (ASO)

1100 Massachusetts Avenue, 2nd Floor

617-998-9640

Fax: 617 410 4069

Email: accessibility@extension.harvard.edu