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Student Disability Services

The College of Medicine Disability Services work with graduate and medical students with documented disabilities. In order to provide students with disabilities every educational opportunity, disability services will make reasonable accommodations in accordance with Section 504 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure full academic involvement while attending Penn State College of Medicine.

You can view more information at the Penn State Office of Disability Resources website.

Basic Process for Applying and Receiving Reasonable Accommodations

  1. Any medical or graduate student of the College of Medicine with questions regarding disability services or the Americans with Disabilities Act is encouraged to contact the College of Medicine Office of Disability Services for information. If any student believes they may have a disability, they should feel free to initiate the review process.
  2. To request review regarding a possible disability, students must initiate contact with the College Office of Disability Services or the Disability Services Coordinator (DSC). Though others, such as faculty members or advisors may recommend that students contact the office, the office may not initiate contact with any student.
  3. Before the office can initiate any action, the student must complete the Penn State College of Medicine Disability Services Information Request Form to provide a written request for services.
  4. The DSC will contact the student upon receipt of the form to gather information regarding the student’s possible disability. The DSC will also discuss the types of reasonable accommodations which may be available to allow the student equal access to the educational opportunities of the College of Medicine, available services, the student’s rights and responsibilities, and documentation guidelines needed to establish the existence and severity of a disability.
  5. If the student does not already have detailed documentation of the nature and extent of their disability from medical practitioners, the Office can suggest referrals necessary for obtaining such documentation. However, the cost of obtaining the necessary documentation is borne by the student.
  6. Once documentation is provided to determine the existence of a covered disability and the appropriateness of the request for accommodations, it is reviewed by the Disability Services Coordinator.
  7. After review, the student will receive a formal letter approving or denying their request for accommodation.
  8. The DSC will be in contact with the student regarding the implementation of any granted accommodations.
  9. The DSC will also be the liaison between faculty members, course directors, or the College administration on matters associated with a disability.
  10. If you have concerns about your requested or approved accommodations, you should first contact the Disability Services Coordinator. You may also contact the University’s Affirmative Action Office or review the Section 504 Grievance Procedure.

The following detailed descriptions of common conditions, and the information used to support requests for documentation for each of these conditions, are taken from the web site of the Office of Disability Services of Penn State University. The forms provided on these links may be used directly, or as a guide, for providing the essential documentation. Requests for accommodation for the College of Medicine should be made to, and discussed directly with, the College of Medicine Disability Services Coordinator.

Reasonable Accommodations Overview

What is the purpose of a reasonable accommodation?

The purpose of a reasonable accommodation is to provide a modification or adjustment that enables a qualified student with a disability to participate in courses, programs, facilities, activities or services. A reasonable accommodation assures that a qualified student with a disability has rights and privileges equal to students without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations may include academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, services or modifications for facilities. Accommodations do not guarantee academic success; the student is still responsible for learning subject knowledge, demonstrating mastery of content and meeting the same demands required of all students.

What does the term “reasonable” mean?

Following guidance from both the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an accommodation is considered reasonable if it does not require substantial change in the curriculum or alteration of any essential elements or functions of a course, program, service or activity.


The College of Medicine Disability Services Coordinator engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for reasonable accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis. Depending on the nature and functional limitations of a student’s documented disability, they may be eligible for certain accommodations. The accommodations listed here represent those that may be approved for a student, contingent on the documentation provided. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

Classroom accommodations:

  • Preferential or specific seating
  • Use of an adjustable-height, table top desk
  • Provision of a note taker
  • Permission to audio record lectures

Clinical accommodations:

  • Placement for rotations within close proximity/certain radius of the campus
  • Consideration for no overnight call duties

Testing accommodations:

  • Distraction-reduced examination environment
  • Provision of additional testing time
  • Provision of a scribe to record essay answers
  • Permission to eat and/or drink, or take medication during exam
  • Use of speech-to-text software or other assistive technology and equipment

Accommodations Related to Attendance and Assignments:

  • Flexibility in attendance in order to attend appointments (physical health, mental health, academic support, etc.)
  • Flexed due dates/deadline extensions on assignments
  • Rescheduling of exam dates

Other:

  • Provision of reserved parking tag for disability spaces
  • Use of a service animal or emotional support animal in University Housing