CMU is committed to providing students with disabilities the academic accommodations and auxiliary aids necessary to ensure access to all university services, programs and activities. In addition to the university’s campus wide efforts to promote access and inclusion, students with disabilities are further accommodated based on specific individual needs. The Office of Student Disability Services is responsible for determining these accommodations and providing services and assistance to enrolled students who are either permanently or temporarily disabled. The SDS office is located in Park Library, Suite 120.

CMU has many services for students, offered by various offices. Decisions regarding disability specific accommodations are made on a case by case basis. The registration process is a simple one but can take up to two weeks. Students with disabilities should register online through the SDS website.

Student Disability Services is currently transitioning to a new training system which will not be available until mid-August 2019.

Until then, disability information for new instructors can still be found on the Student Disability Services website.

Students with Disabilities and the Classroom

Type of Disabilities

Not all disabilities are visible and some disabilities are erratic in nature.
  • Mobility – individuals utilizing wheelchairs, walkers, or crutches
  • Sensory – individuals who cannot use one of the five senses: usually vision or hearing
  • Systemic – chronic illness or disease
  • Learning – a disability that affects one specific area of learning or functioning
  • Psychiatric – a disorder which affects mood or perception
  • Traumatic Brain Injury – a significant injury to the brain
All accommodations and adjustments are determined on an individual one-on-one basis. Students may qualify for an accommodation early in their collegiate career but may no longer need that accommodation as they mature and learn to self-accommodate and build relationships with their faculty members. Students with disabilities who have gone through the registration process with Student Disability Services will have documentation from the SDS office regarding his/her disability and accommodation. Graduate Assistants should refer students who do not have this documentation but speak to you about a “disability” directly to Student Disability Services.
Confidentiality must be maintained at all times even if the student discloses in front of others his/her disability. Encourage the student(s) to speak with you privately regarding his/her disability and reasonable accommodations. Do not speak about these in front of others. Student Disability Services can work directly with the graduate assistant on a need to know basis and with the student’s permission.

The Basics

Attendance Policy and Absences.

Class lectures, discussions, demonstrations and all other associated educational experiences are critical to the learning process. It is the expectation of the university that students attend and arrive on time to all class, laboratory, shop, practicum, and clinical experience sessions. Students are responsible for accounting to their instructors any absence and should contact the faculty member following any absence to determine if and when work may be made up. Habitual tardiness may, at the discretion of the instructor, be considered in computing attendance.

Each instructor has the right to determine their own individual attendance policy.

If a student exceeds the number of absences allowed in the course syllabus, an instructor has the right to drop you from the class. Instructors who have received a Notification to Instructor accommodation letter stating that a student with a disability has a medical condition which may affect attendance is not required, by law, to waive the attendance requirements. The statement is merely to inform the instructor that the absence(s) may be related to symptoms or treatment of the condition. If a medical condition may significantly affect attendance, it is imperative that this possibility be discussed with the instructor as soon as possible.

Graduate Assistants should:

  • Hold students to the same standards as their classmates
  • Ask students about their strengths and difficulties
  • Incorporate Universal Design into your teaching
  • Ask questions and use the support available to you
  • Provide reasonable accommodations
    • What is not a “reasonable accommodation”?
      • Alters the essential elements of the course
      • Potential safety issues
      • Undue administrative or financial burden
  • Disability Etiquette
    • Speak to and look at the student not the sign language interpreter
    • Do not pet or touch an assistive animal while it is working


Universal Design
Association on Higher Education and Disability(AHEAD)
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