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Students FAQ

I am a prospective student. May I meet with someone from your office during a visit to campus?

We would be happy to meet with you during your visit to the University. Please coordinate this by calling our office 978-934-4574 or and setting up a prospective student meeting. Know that during this meeting we will not be able to specify accommodations that will be provided to you until you have formerly accepted attendance to the University and have registered with our office.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation is intended to provide a level playing field for disabled students. Accommodations are not intended to nor will they be used to give a student an unfair advantage. Reasonable accommodation does not necessarily mean earning an "A.

  • A student may be entitled to the following:
  • Additional testing time
  • Distraction reduced environment
  • Use of computer in taking test
  • Use of a calculator
  • Use of a formula sheet (if the formulas are not being tested)
  • Scribe
  • Note-taker

Some typical classroom accommodations:

  • Note-taker
  • Taping lectures
  • Hard copies of overheads prior to scheduled use
  • Preferential seating
  • Accessible classroom
How do I register with the Office of Disability Services?

In order to register with our office, accepted students must submit proper documentation to Disability Services. Once documentation is reviewed and approved students must then setup an intake appointment with a Disability Service staff member to create an accommodation plan.

What is additional test time or extended time on tests/quizzes?

Additional test time is generally half to double time added to the regularly allotted test time. Example: If the regular test time is for an hour, then the accommodation is either an hour and a half or two hours. UMass Lowell does not support unlimited time. Extended time applies only to tests and not to classroom assignments, group projects, homework, or term papers. Individualized accommodations will be discussed with faculty as they arise. Disability Services, in conjunction with University policy, does not permit re-testing because a student is dissatisfied with a grade earned unless faculty have a re-test option available for all students.

What is a distraction reduced environment?

A separate, quiet room, uninterrupted by traffic, noise, and other sensory stimulation. This can include empty office space within a department, conference room, etc. Academic Departments are required to provide assistance for administering the exam if such a room is unavailable.

What kind of documentation do I need?

Documentation should validate the need for accommodation based on an individual's current level of functioning. Please visit the Document Requirement webpage for further details.


Tardiness is NOT an accommodation. Absenteeism is NOT an accommodation unless in selective cases these have been approved by the DS and discussed with the instructor. Obviously, a published attendance policy lends clarity and accountability to the process. Please publish quiz/exam dates and project expectations. The clearer the syllabus, the less room there is for misinterpretation of course expectations.

Can my parents/guardians be involved in the process?

We encourage families to participate in the registration process but ultimately it is your decision and we expect you to take initiative in the process. Additionally, a Permission to Release Information (FERPA Release) form (pdf) is available at our office/on our website which would allow us to speak with your parents/guardians about your accommodations and to be able to respond to specific questions that they may have.

You will need Adobe Reader to view any pdf files. It can be download for free from the Adobe website.

How will you determine if my condition meets the definition of a disability that is used in college?

In order to register with our office you must submit required documentation and once approved, you will need to setup an intake time to review needs and create an accommodation plan. Please visit our How to Register webpage for further details.

Tape Recording

For many disabled students tape recording lecture material is a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students registered with  Disabilities Services will present a Tape Recording Agreement form to each instructor in each class that is to be taped.

Class Cancellation Policy

It is helpful to publish the University’s school cancellation line: 978-934-2121 in the syllabus. Some hearing impaired/deaf students require the services of Sign Language Interpreters. Cancellation of this service requires 24-hour notification or the University is financially liable. Whenever possible, please notify the student directly or Disability Services and we will contact the student and the interpreters. Many students with physical disabilities rely on family, friends, hired or public transportation to get to and from campus. Although not necessary, it is immeasurably helpful to notify a student of an unplanned class cancellation. A phone call from an instructor (or an office staff member) can save a physically disabled student time, money and energy.

Should I self-identify that I have a disability during the admission process?

Disclosing your disability during the admission process is voluntary and is a separate process from requesting accommodations. The University of Massachusetts Lowell will not discriminate against you due to your status as a disabled individual.

Foreign Language Substitution

When appropriate, a student with a language-based learning disability, deafness, and/or a substantial loss of hearing may qualify for substitution of the foreign language requirement. Determination for a Disability Language Waiver is made by Disability Services with proper notification to the department chair.

If I register with Student Disability Services, will it show up on my academic record?

No, registering with our office is a confidential process.

Is my disability information shared with my professors?

No. It is your decision whether or not to inform each professor about your disability during your meeting with each professor. Know that your accommodation letter is limited to discussing the accommodations for which you are qualified and does not contain information regarding your specific condition.

I had a 504 plan in high school. Will it transfer to the University of Massachusetts Lowell?

No, it will not. Services received during K-12 are covered under different legislation than those received during college. A 504 plan is useful in terms of highlighting what has been helpful to a student in the past, but the range of accommodations and services available in college may differ. Accommodations are determined using an interactive process during the intake meeting.

If I have received accommodations at a different college or university, will I automatically receive the same accommodations at the University of Massachusetts Lowell?

No. Documentation review decisions are made independently at different institutions. However you can submit a letter from a prior institution to provide a basis of needs. Accommodations are determined using an interactive process during the intake meeting.

If I am a student with a disability attending the University of Massachusetts Lowell, will my advisor and instructors seek me out to make sure I am provided services?

No. You must self-identify and register as an individual with a disability to receive services from our office. Each semester you must complete your Faculty Notification Form and submit it to our office to request your accommodations for each class. Your accommodations request will be sent to your professors electronically, with a copy to you.

How do I access my accommodations?

Each semester students are required to complete a Faculty Notification Form that is submitted to Disability Services. Once the form is received and processed, letters are sent to your professor electronically with a copy to you. Students are then responsible for following up with each professors during their professors’ office hours, to discuss the details of their accommodations in order to arrange the implementation of the accommodations listed. Please visit our Faculty Notification Process page for more information. Please visit the Faculty Notification webpage for more information. 

What if I need a change in my accommodations?

To make a change in an accommodation plan students must set up a meeting to review accommodations, as changes must be approved by a Disability Services Office staff member.

If I fail an exam and I request accommodations after the fact, what can be done?

Nothing. Accommodation requests are NOT retroactive but can be provided moving forward.

Do I need to register with the Disability Services Office every semester?

No. Unless notified, you do not have to register with Disability Services again once you have been approved. However, you do need to request your accommodations every semester.

Should I tell my academic advisor about my disability?

That is your choice. For example, if reading is difficult for you, it might be helpful to tell your academic advisor about this so they avoid suggesting a number of reading intensive courses during the same semester.

Does your office provide tutoring?

No. Students need to contact the Centers for Learning for tutoring services.

I have a temporary disability, can you help me?

Yes, please contact our office at 978-934-4574 or email: to inform us as soon as possible.

What is the process for obtaining housing accommodations?

You will need to submit the housing requests for medical reasons form (pdf), located on the Residence Life website. Once completed, this form can be turned in to the Wellness Center, located on the third floor of University Crossing. A committee will then review the request and consult with the health care provider if necessary. Once a decision has been made regarding the housing status the Wellness Center and/or Office of Residence Life will contact the student to inform him/her.

You will need Adobe Reader to view any pdf files. It can be download for free from the Adobe website.

What is the process for obtaining an Emotional Support Animal?

You will need to complete all sections of ESA form (pdf) and submit it to the Disability Services Office located at the Wellness Center on the third floor of University Crossing. A committee will review the request and once a decision is made, you will be contacted to inform you on how to proceed.

What kind of Assistive Technology (AT) supports does your office offers?

The following are some of the AT services we provide:

  • Read&Write Gold,
  • Smartpen,
  • Jaws,
  • Dragon,
  • FM system

If you have specific questions pertaining to AT please contact our office at 978-934-4574 or email:

How do I use Read&Write Gold?

We are happy to provide training sessions to students who are new to using the Read&Write Gold software. To schedule a training session, please contact our office at 978-934-4574 or email:

When will I know when my books / readings are ready to be accessed?

An email will be sent out notifying each student when the requested text has been uploaded or if proof of payment is needed before the text can be uploaded.

What counts as proof of payment for my books?

A receipt or an online order confirmation counts as proof of payment. This picture/file can be added as an attachment with the alternative format request form (pdf).

You will need Adobe Reader to view any pdf files. It can be download for free from the Adobe website.

What is the role of SDS in providing Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services?

SDS works with hard-of-hearing and deaf students on a case-by-case basis to ensure they receive all reasonable academic-related accommodations necessary. Certain accommodations may include notetaking services, sign language interpreters, speech-to-text services, or amplification systems.

Additional Information

Please contact the Office of Disability Services, at 978-934-4574 or visit University Crossing, Suite 300.

*These FAQ were adapted from the University of Iowa, Iowa City.