DASS Student FAQ

Academic Coaching at DASS

Typically, first year students with ADD/ADHD, a learning difference, and/or ASD are encouraged to meet with a DASS staff member once a week for forty-five to fifty minutes during the fall semester. However, depending on the student’s needs and schedule, appointments can be scheduled less frequently either on a regular basis, or on an “as needed” basis. 

Please use the Appointments tab on DASS Link to schedule an appointment.

We ask students who are unable to make their appointment to cancel in advance, so that the time slot can be made available to other students.

Differences Between High-school and College-level Accommodations

Several changes will happen. Please read this comparison table to get an idea of what some of those changes are.

Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary and postsecondary students from discrimination. Nevertheless, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district's jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify an individual's education needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs as well as its meeting the needs of students without disabilities. Unlike your high school, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability.

Roles and responsibilities differ as well, not only for students but also instructors and the institution. See some of those differences outlined in this chart.

No. In college you have an active role in obtaining accommodations. While the DASS team will determine the accommodations for which you are eligible and prepare the necessary paperwork, you are responsible for communicating with your professors to implement your accommodations in each class.

Disability-related Prescriptions

Yes, typically the SMU pharmacy can fill prescriptions for controlled medication, including ADHD-related and psychotropic medication. They have also received a waiver from the state of Texas in order to fill out-of-state prescriptions. Please visit the SMU Pharmacy website for more details.

Eligibility and Requesting Services

No. However, if you want SMU to provide an academic accommodation, you must identify yourself as having a disability. Likewise, you should let SMU know about your disability if you want to ensure that you are assigned to accessible facilities. In any event, your disclosure of a disability is always voluntary.

As long as your documentation is current and adequate, you can register with the office at any time. However, it can be better to register sooner than later because some accommodations may require time to be arranged. The information you provide will remain confidential.

There are three main responsibilities. First, students are responsible for requesting accommodations through DASS; DASS does not seek out students with disabilities. Next, the student is responsible for providing to DASS acceptable documentation of his or her disability. Finally, after being authorized for accommodations through DASS, students are responsible for self-advocating. This includes: requesting that DASS send accommodation letters to professors; discussing with the professors how those accommodations will be implemented; and setting appointments for proctored tests when needed. 

No. Your documentation needs to be provided directly to the DASS office. Do not assume that a copy of your documentation was forwarded from Admissions or the Student Health Center to DASS. DASS is the only office on campus that maintains documentation of a disability for the purposes of providing or coordinating accommodations and services when requested by the student.

You, the student, must read the step-by-step instructions, read the documentation guidelines, and then fill out the Accommodation Request Form (available on the step-by-step instructions page) and upload supporting documentation.

Graduate School Entrance Exams

The American Bar Association's Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law has released two web features to primarily help law students with disabilities and prospective law students with disabilities: 

For those interested in taking the GRE, their website details the process for registering: https://www.ets.org/gre/test-takers/general-test/register/disability-accommodations.html

The GMAT provides instructions on requesting test accommodations at their site here: https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat/before-the-exam/register-for-the-gmat-exam/register-as-a-test-taker-with-disabilities

The MCAT provides detailed information about accommodation eligibility for the exam here: https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/accommodations


Notifying Instructors of Your Accommodation Needs

During your initial Intake Appointment with your DASS Coordinator, in most cases, your letters will be made available for you and your instructors to view on DASS Link. If you are not enrolled in classes at the time of your intake, only a sample copy of your letter will be created and shown to you, and you will be given instructions on how to request the letters be sent to your instructors once you do enroll.

In following semesters, you are responsible for using your DASS Link account to request letters of accommodation for the classes in which you need accommodations. On DASS Link, this is called a Semester Request. The letters will be available for you and your professors to view on DASS Link. 

After your accommodation letters are made available on DASS Link, you are still responsible for communicating with each instructor, preferably in a brief, face-to-face meeting, to decide how your accommodations will be implemented in that class. See our Communicating with Professors about Accommodations guide for tips and a script to help you with this important part of the accommodation process.

Yes. Because the structure of classes can be different, you may not need accommodations in all of your classes. When you make a Semester Request to request new letters each semester, you are given the choice of which instructors to notify and what accommodations you will need in each class. If an accommodation is unnecessary in a course (e.g., a non-academic accommodation like housing/dining, or “Use of a Calculator” in an Art History class), you can opt not to include it for that course.

Advocating for yourself is an important skill to learn. However, if you have little experience doing this, then please let us know so we can discuss with you how to best talk with your instructor. Most instructors are aware of our accommodation procedures and are genuinely interested in your success.

You may work with other staff on campus that could benefit from knowing about your condition. Your academic advisor may make more informed recommendations on courses, course load, and strategies for pacing your program if they know more about how you learn or what challenges you face. Sharing your disability, in general terms, with your career counselor can also help that person refer you to jobs or majors that might fit well for you, or offer you resources that are reserved only for people with disabilities, for example, scholarships, job fairs, and networking opportunities. You can choose who you share personal, disability-related information with, and how much, but it can often help these staff members do a better job for you!

If you've properly notified your instructor of your accommodation needs by sharing your DASS letter in DASS Link with reasonable notice before the accommodation is needed AND communicated with your professor about it, you should circle back to your DASS Coordinator to discuss how to handle the situation. If your professor simply forgot to implement a testing accommodation, DASS should be made aware and we can reach out to the instructor to ensure they have the proper training to know how to implement the testing accommodation. We can also emphasize the importance of implementing the accommodation as well as brainstorm with the professor about ways to "fix" the situation after failing to accommodate. If your professor is resistant to an accommodation and/or believes it would fundamentally alter the curriculum in their particular course, they should be pointed to the DASS Coordinator to discuss the situation. We can't help if we don't know you're having problems, so let us know!

Reduced Course Load

Course loads vary from program to program. However, some students with disabilities elect to take on different course loads depending on their medical needs. These instances are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Second Language and Math Requirements

There are various requirements throughout the different divisions of the university. Some have a second language and/or math requirement. It is possible for students with a learning disability to petition for a substitution (not waiver) of certain requirements. The decision to allow for a substitution is made on a case-by-case basis by the DASS staff and the Dean of the student’s major college. There is more information about Course Substitutions, as well as our Course Substitution documentation guidelines on our Types of Accommodations page

Tardiness, Absences, and Medical Withdrawals

This is an accommodation authorized infrequently to those students who have conditions that could intermittently impact their regular attendance to class and are unavoidable. For example, when a student has a chronic condition with random or cyclical acute episodes, or a need to seek treatment at less than convenient times, modifications to attendance policies may be appropriate as an accommodation. This is not a license to not attend class, nor is it unlimited. Parameters are put in place with much discussion between the instructor and student at the beginning of the semester. An agreement must be reached on what is appropriate for each class, as the attendance requirements differ from course to course. Ultimately, the fundamental nature of the course must not be compromised. Student Responsibilities and a Flexible Attendance Agreement between student and faculty member are provided to students and faculty as attachments on the Accommodation Letter. For more detailed information, please see the Consideration for Absences/Tardiness section of the Types of Accommodation page of our website.

If a student wishes to medically withdraw from the University, he or she should follow the process laid out on the Dean of Students website, which starts with completing a Caring, Community Connections submission form (CCC).

Testing Accommodations

Departments and instructors may handle testing accommodations differently from one another. For example, Dedman Law students have their testing coordinated by one of the Deans. Exams given by Cox School of Business instructors are coordinated by a specific administrative assistant. All other students will likely be tested directly by their instructor or at SMU's University Testing Center (UTC).

First, if you're not taking a Dedman Law or Cox Business exam, meet with your instructor about your testing accommodations. Together, you will work where and when you will take the test. We encourage you to test with your class and have the professor provide you with your accommodations, if possible. If you receive extended time, for example, you might arrange with your professor to start early, stay after in the classroom, or take the test in an office or empty classroom.

The instructor can also request that you take your test with the UTC. Instead of going to the classroom, you would go to the UTC on the day of your test. You must schedule this test with the UTC at least 2 days prior to the test in order for the UTC to make the necessary arrangements.

Note that if you have a reader or scribe accommodation, you will set up your exams 7 days in advance using the UTC portal, but take your exams with DASS in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC).

See the Current Student Test Proctoring page of our website for more details.

If you can't take your test during class time because your use of an accommodation will conflict with another class, you must talk with your professor to arrange a different time. If needed, see the University Testing Center's website for their hours of operation. 

Student Veterans


A key tenet in disability services is confidentiality. Information shared by a student with the Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies (DASS) team is held in strict confidence. This information can include the original request for services, documentation submitted for review, conversations between students and DASS personnel, and arrangements for DASS-provided accommodations like test proctoring. Except for emergency reasons, information is exchanged only as necessary to provide services, or with specific individuals and/or offices for which the student has provided written permission. DASS may, at times, communicate with on-campus offices or individuals without written permission, if there is a clear educational need.  

Disability-related records are maintained confidentially in electronic format in DASS Link and are accessed by the DASS team. After students leave SMU, their records are archived.

For more detailed information, see the DASS Policies and Procedures page, specifically sections 9.0 Privacy and 5.2 Student Data.