Types of Accommodations

Individually Determined Accommodations

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the disability's impact and student need and the reasonableness of the requested accommodation. Below is a non-exhaustive list and definition of commonly-requested accommodations: 

Testing Accommodations

The student is given additional time to complete any in-class, graded assignment, such as a quiz, test, or exam. The amount of extended time is indicated by numerical reference of 1.5x, or 2x, etc. For example: 1.5x means that the student is allowed 1.5 times the amount of time students without disabilities are given to complete the exam. If an in-class test is scheduled for 50 minutes, a student with a disability with a 1.5x accommodation would be allowed an additional 25 minutes (or a total of 75 minutes) to complete the test. 

The student is tested in an environment which minimizes distractions for the student. Each student has different levels of distractibility and different stimuli which may distract them. Instructors should discuss with the student the optimal settings in which the student will take the test. Typically, students need an environment which minimizes both auditory (e.g. copy machines, talking, other noises) and visual distractions (e.g. people walking in and out). A distraction-reduced environment does not necessitate the student's testing in a private room, nor does it mean that an environment is completely distraction-free.

Tests are enlarged to a needed font size to enable the student to see and/or better understand the test material. This includes graphs, charts, diagrams, and pictures, as well.

A person or computer software program reads the test word-for-word to the student. This does not include interpretation, clarification, or rewording of test questions or terms. Typically, a live person is employed to read a test for DASS students with this accommodation.

A person records verbatim the answers provided by the student during a test. Typically, a live person is employed to read a test for DASS students with this accommodation; however, instructors, TAs, and GAs, can also take the role of scribe for students with this accommodation. 

A variety of software, hardware, and other devices can be used to accommodate the student, for example, a scanner, computer, text magnifier, etc.

Classroom Accommodations

DASS can aid in the acquisition or creation of books, texts, and articles in alternate formats, e.g., enlarged print, audio, braille, etc.

  • More so than any other, this accommodation can take quite some time to render. This necessitates the student's contacting DASS as early as possible, preferably well before the start of the semester, to begin acquiring the alternate texts. Faculty members are asked to submit their textbook details to the bookstore well before the start of the semester to aid in this process. 
  • Any scanned or electronic articles or chapters provided to DASS by the student or instructor should be "clean scans," which will allow DASS or the student to reformat the documents for use with assistive technology. 
  • Sharing all of these texts with the DASS Coordinator well in advance can be critical to providing the student full access to the curriculum.

Interpreter/Real-time Captioning: Interpreters or captionists are provided to students who have substantial hearing loss which prevents them from hearing the information presented in class. These services are arranged by DASS. After registering with DASS, a qualified student would meet with a DASS Coordinator to discuss the level of hearing loss, the needs of the student in class and within his or her program. DASS does not have sign language interpreters on staff, so contract interpreters must be arranged well ahead of time, along with captionists. Access is provided in the classroom and for other required coursework at no additional charge to the student. For non-academic interpreter and captionist needs, requests should be directed to, and handled by, the sponsoring entity. DASS can provide guidance and referrals to community agencies. Payment for interpreter/transcription services is the responsibility of the sponsoring entity. Please review our Policies and Procedures regarding Interpreter and Captioning Services.

Handouts are enlarged to the font size needed to enable the student to see and understand the handout material.

DASS can assist a student in obtaining a copy of notes to supplement the student's own notes in each class. This normally happens with the help of a volunteer peer note-taker in the class. Instructors may also choose to post their notes on-line, or provide the student with a copy of his/her notes for the class. Please note, the delivery of notes or outlines before a class meets is not generally considered a reasonable accommodation.

The student with this accommodation needs assistance capturing information covered in lecture and may audio-record lectures for later use in studying.

  • The student is responsible for providing the audio recording device and maintaining control over the recordings. 
  • After presenting the letter of accommodation, the student should request permission from the instructor to audio record lectures and review sessions.  The student then agrees to limit the availability of any recordings to their own, personal use. 
  • DASS recommends that instructors with concerns about intellectual property or the use of the recording for non-classroom purposes or the simple use of a laptop in class can make a contract with the student to minimize any apprehension. 
  • Instructors and students can consider alternatives to this accommodation if the alternative still provides meaningful access to the course material covered during the lecture. If the student and instructor cannot agree on alternatives to this accommodation, the student and instructor have a mutual responsibility to contact our office for further, interactive discussion.

The student is allowed to sit where he/she can best obtain the information presented in class. Arranging preferential seating is a collaborative process between the instructor and the student.

Other Academic Accommodations

A physical, medical, or psychiatric disability may cause a student to periodically miss classes. If the supporting documentation warrants, the Flexible Attendance accommodation may be authorized, asking for the instructor's consideration in excusing more than the stated, allowable number of absences for the class. As attendance is considered fundamental to any class and to the learning process in general, the accommodation can be implemented differently in each course, as the essential elements and design of a course must be taken into consideration. It is at the instructor's discretion as to how many absences may be allowed before the fundamental nature of the class is jeopardized. 

DASS staff can be engaged to facilitate a conversation to determine the specific course parameters to put in the agreement described below. This agreement does NOT apply to absences for other reasons. 

Student Responsibilities related to this accommodation include: sharing with instructor the Letter of Accommodation that lists the Flex Attendance accommodation, the Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Attendance Accommodations, and the sample Flexible Attendance Agreement; having a discussion with faculty at the beginning of the semester or as early as possible after approval of the accommodation; notifying the instructor as soon as possible after each missed class that is due to a disability; and meeting the agreed-upon arrangements related to notification, coursework, and absences as contained in the Flexible Attendance Agreement.                                            

This accommodation is approved on a case-by-case basis; likewise, it is implemented with each individual instructor on a case-by-case basis. The Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Attendance Accommodations are provided to both faculty and students to clarify responsibilities and legal guidelines. DASS staff are always available to discuss the parameters and assist in finalizing a plan. Should a student approach the maximum allowable absences, per the Agreement, the instructor should notify the student and request a meeting. Either the instructor and/or student should alert the DASS Coordinator to the situation, as well. 

All students must be "otherwise qualified" to participate in any program of academic study with or without reasonable accommodations. Students with disabilities are not excused from course prerequisites, GPA requirements, or degree requirements. However, in some limited circumstances, when all other means of accommodation have been deemed inappropriate and/or exhausted, a course substitution may be appropriate. DASS makes considerations of course substitutions on a case-by-case basis and only after the student makes a specific request for this accommodation. Course substitutions are made only when it is clear that the student's disability makes completion of the requirement impossible and that the course requested for substitution is not an essential component of the academic program, thus, the substitution does not alter the integrity of the academic program. The student should discuss this accommodation with DASS staff as soon as possible, as determining the need for this accommodation often takes a significant amount of time.

To apply for a second language substitution, please: 

  1. read the Second Language Substitutions Guidelines

  2. follow the DASS Accommodation Process to submit an Accommodation Request or Supplemental Request plus supporting documentation; 

  3. and download, complete, and submit to DASS the application for second language substitution request.

If English is the student's second language, there is no substitution available at an English-speaking University.

Though rare, the impact of a student’s disability can be so significant that the student is unable to take a full-time course load - 12 or more hours for undergraduates. In most of these cases, the student can work with their advisor, and if relevant, their financial aid counselor, to create a schedule that is manageable, even if it is less than 12 hours; however, if the student requires a designation as a full-time student for administrative purposes, such as for a scholarship, the student will need to submit a request to the DASS office for the Reduced Course Load (RLC) accommodation. Documentation should demonstrate the reasons for the accommodation request, with a projection on when the student would likely be able to enroll in a full course load in the near future. The DASS Coordinator determines the minimum hours to be considered “full-time” on a case-by-case basis, but typically this is 9 hours. The RCL accommodation needs to be finalized before the semester starts, so we encourage the student to submit the request at least 30 days before the start of the semester. This accommodation is generally put in place for one semester, and it requires collaboration with the Registrar’s office.

Other Non-academic Accommodations

DASS continues to remove architectural barriers to students with disabilities on Southern Methodist University's campus; however, some historic buildings remain inaccessible. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), DASS can relocate classes from inaccessible classrooms to accessible ones. Tables, chairs, and desks can also be added to or removed from classrooms if needed.

Before making a request for dining accommodations through DASS, students with medical conditions that substantially impact their ability to eat certain foods, such as severe allergies, are expected to meet with the campus dietitian (dietitian@smu.edu) to discuss all available options.

Dining Services has an array of options to meet the needs of most diners, even those with allergies and intolerances. SMU's dietitian and the Head Chef can discuss the student's needs and explore all of the options available for each dining hall space. For example, Arnold Dining Commons has an Allergens Solutions Station that features recipes that do not use ingredients from 7 of the top 8 allergens. All recipes are made without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy, Soy, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, and Shellfish. 

Allergen kits, individually prepared meals, disposable flatware, carb counts, access to gluten-free options, reduced meal plans, or access to a kitchen may be in order for those most significantly impacted by their medical condition(s).

Read more about food allergies for college students.

Located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, the Parking and ID Services Office provides temporary on-campus handicapped parking permits and DART Paratransit vouchers.

Accessible spaces on campus require an SMU parking permit and a state-issued disabled placard or plate or an SMU temporary handicapped accessible parking permit. Individuals with short-term accessible parking needs should contact their physician for a doctor’s note. The doctor’s note can be emailed to parking@smu.edu or faxed to 214-768-7678 for completion, and the permit can be picked up in the Parking and ID Services office once it is processed. A short-term temporary accessible permit can be obtained from the Parking and ID Services office for a maximum of six (6) weeks for on-campus use only. Drivers with longer than expected recovery periods should file with the state for the state disabled permit. Note that students are responsible for all student parking fees.

Interactive parking and accessibility maps are available on the Parking and ID Services website.

Also see DASS's Campus Accessibility: Physical Access page.


Southern Methodist University believes that community is so essential to the academic experience that we require first and second-year students to live on campus. In our residence halls, students are fully engaged with the SMU community while learning to share space and be considerate of others.

Some students cannot access SMU’s on-campus living environment for disability-related reasons. SMU expects these students to make need-based accommodation requests through the DASS office, providing thorough documentation in enough time for DASS staff members to review it. We carefully evaluate all housing requests and work closely with RLSH to identify appropriate, on-campus living spaces. To better understand the process of reviewing disability-related housing requests, please review this document


Release from the on-campus living requirement:

Thankfully, most students’ disability-related housing needs can be met on campus through reasonable accommodations recommended by DASS. Exemptions to the two-year on-campus living requirement are only recommended in rare cases where all other reasonable accommodations are considered first.

  • If the basis for your request is available on campus, such as a single room or kitchen, please make your request for that arrangement.
  • If there is truly no configuration on campus that can meet your needs, and you need to request an exemption to the university live-on requirement, contact housing@smu.edu to follow their process. Your RCD is also a resource to you for information on requesting an exemption. DASS focuses on accommodations in the on-campus living environment.

Single rooms for “a quiet, undisturbed place to study":

Students who make requests for single rooms solely for this reason should instead request the single directly from RLSH. With so many students living in a residence hall, sharing facilities and resources, a private room does not guarantee a quiet, distraction-free space any more than living in a standard double room. These students will be assigned rooms based on RLSH procedures only and will be held responsible for paying the difference between single/double room fees. DASS refers the student to an interactive list of quiet study spaces around campus. 


Service Animals:

For students who plan to bring a Service Animal to live in campus housing, early notification is necessary to make arrangements. Please see details about Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals in the "Other Non-Academic Accommodation" accordion menu on this page.


Housing Deadlines:

Deadlines are subject to change, depending on SMU's academic calendar and policy/procedure changes. Deadlines are also posted on the Apply for Housing page of the RLSH website, including the reapplication deadline:

  • For rising juniors and seniors with a current housing accommodation from DASS that you would like to continue to the next year, submit a “Supplemental Request” in DASS Link by February 15, 2024, for review.  You may be expected to submit updated documentation so we encourage you to start this Supplemental Request as early as possible. This does not guarantee a student a spot in the RLSH lottery.
  • For rising sophomores, juniors and seniors requesting a NEW housing accommodation from DASS, submit an Accommodation Request by following the "Making a Housing-related Accommodation Request" process listed below by February 15, 2024, for review.  Because this process can take some time, we encourage you to start this process as early as possible. This does not guarantee a student a spot in the RLSH lottery.
  • For new students to SMU, we ask that you submit your disability-related request for housing by June 1, 2024. in order to give DASS staff members time to thoroughly review the information and make recommendations to RLSH by June 9th regarding placement for the following fall semester.
  • Any request received AFTER a posted deadline will be reviewed in the order it was received. If recommendations are made to RLSH, implementation will be based on availability and the student’s request could be put on a wait list. 

Making a Housing-related Accommodation Request:

  1. First, read all of the information on the Request Services page AND in the Housing Requests Based on Medical, Psychological, or Other Disability-related Needs portion of this page.
  2. Obtain your supporting documentation as described in DASS's Documentation Guidelines, and in the Documentation section of Housing Requests Based on Medical, Psychological, or Other Disability-related Needs, below.
  3. Complete the Student Self-report for a Housing Accommodation form and save it as a pdf. We recommend using a desktop, laptop, or tablet to complete the form, not a phone. Please do not screenshot or save this document as a picture as we cannot see the full text that you enter.
  4. Next, if you have never requested accommodations through DASS before, complete the Request for Accommodation online form. If you have made accommodation requests through DASS in the past, then you'll need to log in to DASS Link and complete a Supplemental Request, instead.
  5. Finally, attach the pdf of the Student Self-report for a Housing Accommodation Form along with your supporting documentation to whichever request form you completed and submit it at the bottom of that page. 


Housing-related accommodation requests require documentation from an outside provider detailing the condition or need that is the basis of your request. This documentation should follow DASS's documentation guidelines as well as include:

     1) A clear description of your desired housing configuration with a focus on on-campus options.

  • Keep in mind that SMU provides a variety of living environments. If you’re not aware of all of the options on campus, your RA or RCD (Residential Commons Director) is a resource to you. 
  • If no configuration on campus can meet your needs, contact RLSH at housing@smu.edu to pursue an exemption request.

     2) A statement from your provider listing how long they’ve worked with you, the date of your most recent visit, and the frequency of your interactions;

     3) An explanation of how your request relates to the impact of the condition;

     4) An indication of the level of need (severity level) for the recommended configuration and the consequences of not receiving; 

     5) Alternatives if the recommended configuration is not possible.

Often times, the documentation does not include all of the necessary details. To minimize delays, we suggest that you have your outside provider complete the Provider Verification of Disability-Related Need for Housing Accommodations form. If you have any questions about what to submit or whether you should have your provider use this additional form, please call our office at 214-768-1470.

SMU students enroll in classes on an enrollment date determined by the number of units they have completed, as determined by the Registrar's office. Students authorized for the accommodation of Priority Enrollment are assigned earlier enrollment times based on a pre-determined schedule set by the Registrar. 

Like all accommodations, a student must show a disability-related need for Priority Enrollment. The impact of some conditions might necessitate priority enrollment in order to allow for: breaks between classes for a student who uses a wheelchair or walking device; the need to procure and create alternate format texts; setting up ASL or CART services; moving a class to an accessible room, etc. This administrative accommodation requires notification to be sent the Registrar's office well in advance of registration. 

New/incoming students approved for  this accommodation will not be able to register before their first Advising and Orientation session but will have the priority date set for future registration periods. Current/continuing students approved for Priority Enrollment before the Registrar's deadline will be assigned an earlier time for the next upcoming registration period. If the accommodation is approved after the Registrar's deadline, then the student can enroll in the following semester's registration period.  Graduate students should work with their DASS Coordinator and their program to coordinate the accommodation. 

SMU students with disabilities may be allowed to have a service animal in campus facilities where animals would typically not be permitted (See University Policy 1.17, Animals Policy). Furthermore, SMU students with disabilities residing in University housing may request as an accommodation that an emotional support animal be allowed to reside in the student’s University residence. For students who plan to bring a Service Animal to live in campus housing, early notification is necessary to make arrangements.For more information on the differences between a service and an emotional support animal, procedures for obtaining approval to use such animals, owner responsibilities, and SMU Community expectations, please read the Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Service and Emotional Support Animals Procedures.

During the documentation review process for emotional support animals, we expect to assess and consider information from a treating professional who knows you well, and who is qualified to comment on the benefits of an ESA for you specifically. Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Under the Fair Housing Act, a housing provider may request reliable documentation when an individual requesting a reasonable accommodation has a disability and disability-related need for an accommodation that are not obvious or otherwise known.  In HUD's experience, such
documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an ESA.

For a better understanding of Service Animals and ESA's, review the ADA National Network Service Animals Booklet

For mental health providers, this article from the American Psychological Association (APA) explains the seriousness of providing a letter on behalf of their patient/client regarding an emotional support animal. 

Temporary Accommodations

Students with short-term injuries or illness (low-impact, lasting for a few days to around 1-2 weeks) should contact the Office of the Dean of Students for help with notifying and communicating their needs to instructors. However, some temporary conditions have impacts that are more long-term or severe, and require more formal accommodations to continue to participate at the University, such as:

  • Conditions caused by an accident or injury that will heal under six months’ time with no lasting effects, including a sprained or broken hand, finger, leg, or other joint, or a concussion, that will heal completely within a few weeks or months;
  • Minor or non-chronic medical conditions or disorders that last more than a few weeks;
  • Medical conditions that last several weeks without lasting effects;
  • Surgeries that temporarily impact a student in a course without lasting effects;
  • Complications during pregnancy that are not typically part of the normal experience.
Students with conditions like these should request temporary accommodations through DASS, following the step-by-step procedures on the Request Services page.

Pregnant students may also benefit from the following resources:

Students with injuries to their hands or arms who are having trouble typing or writing may find these technological solutions helpful. 


One-handed typing technique:

Voice Control speech recognition programs:


Free screen reader programs: