Frequently Asked Questions About Accessibility

Terms and Definitions

What is a disability?

As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a "person with a disability" is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing or concentrating.

It is important to know that an impairment in and of itself does not necessary constitute a disability. The degree of the impairment must be significant enough to "substantially limit" one or more major life activities. Documentation must address the substantial limitation posed by the particular disability for which an accommodation is being requested.



How are accommodations determined?

Accommodations are uniquely developed for students on an individual basis. Furthermore, depending on the course content and format, accommodations for students may vary by semester or term. All requests for accommodations must be supported by the documentation provided by the requesting student. It is important to keep in mind that this is an interactive process. Accommodations are best established and appropriately implemented when there is a partnership between the instructor, the student and AS.

What is a "reasonable accommodation"?

It is easier to explain what is not reasonable. The following are kinds of accommodations are not considered reasonable.

  • Making the accommodation means making a substantial change in an essential nature of a program or element of the curriculum.
  • The accommodation poses an undue financial or administrative burden to the university.
  • The accommodation creates a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

See examples of accommodations.

When is the best time to request accommodations from AS?

Contact AS immediately after registering for classes each semester or term. Requests that are received prior to the start of the semester or term will allow AS to adequately coordinate services and provide instructors with reasonable notice.

After student accommodations are developed, are Accommodation Notification Letters automatically generated each semester or term?

No. It is the student’s responsibility to request Accommodation Notification Letters each semester or term during which accommodations are required. Without this request, the office will not notify a student’s instructor. An instructor is not obligated to accommodate students from whom they have not received formal notice.

What if I need additional accommodations throughout the semester or term?

The needs of a student may vary according to course requirements, format and course content. With this in mind, students have the right to request additional accommodations for which they are eligible at any time during the semester. However, it is the student’s responsibility to provide the instructor with "reasonable notice." If documentation on file does not support the request, a student may be required to provide additional documentation. The student’s file will be re-evaluated to determine if the new request is reasonable.


Special Events

What accommodations can be made for Commencement?

Graduating students with disabilities may request accommodations for the processional, seating areas (for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, have low vision or have physical disabilities), getting to/from the platform area (located at the top of a set of stairs) or obtaining the diploma on the platform.

Both ceremonies have designated seating areas for guests with mobility disabilities and for those who need interpreters or transcribers. Seating is available for the guest with the disability and one companion on a first-come, first-served basis.

Alternative formats of the Commencement program, such as enlarged print or Braille, may also be requested for students or guests.

Handicap parking is available in designated locations; a state-issued license plate or placard is required.

When the graduating student registers for Commencement, the student must request specific accommodations for the student and/or any guest(s). After registration, the student will receive a detailed packet with parking passes, designated entrance areas, seating information and other details.


Financial Considerations

Do I have to pay for my accommodations?

No. It is UMUC’s responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations to eligible students with disabilities at no cost to the student.

Are institutional waivers available for students with disabilities?

No. We encourage students to speak directly with Financial Aid regarding options for financial assistance. Outside agencies, such as vocational rehabilitation services, may also provide support.


Working with Faculty Members

Can you contact faculty members and explain my situation?

AS will not communicate with any faculty member until a student has completed the registration process and has an approved accommodation letter in place.

After a student has registered with AS, the student will request Accommodation Notification Letters. Upon receipt, AS will submit an Accommodation Notification Letter to each faculty member. Students should verify each instructor has received the letter.

What if my instructor does not want to provide me with reasonable accommodations?

Faculty members receive formal notification of accommodations for all eligible students receiving accommodations. Oftentimes, these situations arise due to miscommunication. If any issues arise, contact AS immediately.


Schedule Changes/Additional Accommodation Needs

What happens if I change from a stateside residence to an overseas location?

Notify AS and your designated overseas campus (UMUC Asia or UMUC Europe) if you make any changes to your schedule and/or location. AS will follow up if any additional information is needed.

Are there different accommodations for online, on-site and hybrid courses?

During the registration process, accommodations are identified for both on-site and online instruction. Depending on the accommodation needs, a student would have to notify AS if he or she were taking an on-site course. For example, a student with a physical disability may not have used many accommodations for online instruction; however, the student will need special equipment and classroom modifications when he or she takes an on-site course. The student is responsible for notifying AS regarding any changes to type of instruction.

What if my condition changes and I need to request additional accommodations?

Contact AS immediately. AS will request to review any new documentation supporting your accommodation request. After additional accommodations are determined, AS will update the Accommodation Notification Letter.


Medical Concerns

I have surgery scheduled during the term. Am I eligible for disability accommodation?

This situation can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact AS to describe your specific situation.

What if I need an extension because of my medical condition?

This situation can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact AS to describe your specific situation.

What if I missed an assignment deadline due to a medical emergency?

This situation can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact AS to describe your specific situation.

I have lost contact with my diagnosing physician. What should I do?

Any diagnosing professional can submit a medical verification letter or complete one of UMUC’s verification forms. The licensed professional must support the field related to the letter. For example, a psychiatrist would provide a letter based on the student’s mental health condition, and a medical doctor would provide a letter based on a medical condition. Please review the documentation guidelines.

What if I do not meet the eligibility requirements to be granted a reasonable accommodation, but I have developed an impairment due to an illness, accident or surgery?

AS will be happy to discuss available options and resources in cases where an accommodation is not appropriate.

My health has deteriorated, but my doctors have not determined an official diagnosis. What are my options?

Although you may not have an official diagnosis, you may still be eligible for accommodations. To make that determination, AS will require a formal letter from your treating physician explaining your situation, limitations and impact on academics.

Is pregnancy considered a disability?

Pregnancy and childbirth are not typically covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, if a student is experiencing complications due to pregnancy or childbirth, she may be eligible for temporary accommodations. Contact AS if you have any questions regarding any complications you experience while pregnant.

I am taking care of a sick relative or I am the caretaker for a disabled significant other. Am I eligible for a disability accommodation?

No. AS can only accommodate a student for the conditions that limit him or her due to the student’s own diagnosis or treatment.


Grievances and Appeals

What should I do if I feel I may have been discriminated against based on my disability at UMUC?

If you feel the actions of any person or entity at UMUC has been discriminatory based on your disability status, contact UMUC’s Office of Diversity Initiatives at to file a complaint.

I disagree with the accommodation determination. Is there an appeal process?

If you have any concerns regarding the determination of appropriate accommodations, you can request an appeal of the decision by contacting UMUC’s Office of Diversity Initiatives at