Graduate Students:  Frequently Asked Questions on Accessibility

The information below is to provide UVM graduate students with disabilities guidance in navigating resources for both academic and workplace accommodations.

Academic/Educational Accommodations:

Student Accessibility Services assesses accommodations in the educational environment for students to ensure students with disabilities have equitable access to the educational environment.

I am a student with a disability and would like to request academic accommodations. What is the process?

Students with disabilities must register with Student Accessibility Services and request accommodations by submitting a Getting Started Form, scheduling a meeting and submitting documentation as early as possible. For additional questions about the registration process, academic support offered, or additional services provided by Student Accessibility Services, please contact 802-656-7753 or

Do academic accommodations only apply to undergraduate students?

No, academic accommodations are available to all students at the University of Vermont, including Graduate Students, Professional and Continuing Education students, and Larner College of Medicine students.

Will I receive the same academic accommodations as undergraduate students?

While that’s possible, academic accommodations are individualized for each student’s situation based on the demonstrated need that results from the impact of one’s disability.

What are some of the differences that may apply between academic accommodations for undergraduate students and graduate students?

Academic accommodations are individualized to each student and their academic responsibilities. Graduate students often participate in a wide variety of assistantships and professional opportunities outside of the traditional classroom that are often unavailable to undergraduate and non-degree seeking students. More specifically, because graduate study can include responsibilities such as teaching, research in labs or the field, or could be connected with grants, some accommodations, like a reduced course load or adjusting the pace of a program, require careful planning and communication to assess and determine what is reasonable and to avoid fundamental alteration to a student’s academic progress.

What services/resources are available to graduate students with disabilities?

A wide variety of services and resources are available to all students including academic resources, health and wellness support, diversity and inclusion programming, and much more. After registering with Student Accessibility Services, SAS assigns a student to an Accessibility Specialist who would be happy to address specific questions and concerns about available resources and accommodation support.

How do accommodations apply to comprehensive exams (comps), including oral presentation comps, written comps, exam comps

Just like student needs, academic requirements can vary from class to class and instructor to instructor, therefore accommodation requests are assessed individually for need and reasonableness. While academic accommodations may be available for oral presentation, written, exam, and other types of comps, Accessibility Specialists will need to speak to registered students with disabilities about their specific needs, classes, comps, exams, and other academic requirements to determine what reasonable accommodations may be available.

Will future employers know that I had academic accommodations at UVM?

Student Accessibility Services does not disclose disability accommodation information to future employers, unless the student or former student has specifically requested and consented to SAS providing that information or SAS becomes legally required to disclose it, such as in response to a court order or subpoena.

How do I talk to my Specialist about accommodations that I might need throughout my time at UVM?

Working with the assigned Accessibility Specialist at SAS is the most appropriate and best first step in identifying potential accommodations needed for participation in any program. After an accommodation is approved, the specialists support students through the implementation process and address any questions or concerns students may have.

Graduate Appointment and Employment Workplace Accommodations:

The ADA/504 Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity coordinates workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their position.

For graduate students who are also employees on payroll and are needing to request accommodations for their paid position, refer to this University Operating Procedure: Procedural Guidelines for Disability Accommodation for Employees and Applicants for Employment.

In coordination with SAS, the ADA/504 Coordinator also assesses and supports the implementation of accommodation requests for individuals serving in graduate appointments, such as graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, graduate part-time instructorships, and other types of graduate and student appointments. SAS and the ADA/504 Coordinator partner on coordination of graduate appointment accommodations because these appointments occur in a workplace instead of solely an academic setting.

What are workplace accommodations?

Workplace accommodations refer to reasonable modifications or adjustments to standard processes and procedures in a job.  These accommodations apply to the hiring or appointment process, access to privileges and benefits, as well as removal of barriers for completion of all essential job functions. These modifications enable a qualified individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to obtain a position and also to successfully perform tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities.

I identify as having a disability, but I do not have a need for workplace accommodations in my job or graduate appointment. Do I need to register with SAS or the ADA/504 Coordinator?

Individuals with disabilities do not need to disclose to SAS or the ADA/504 Coordinator that they have a disability unless they want to pursue requesting workplace accommodations.

How do I request workplace accommodations for my employment or graduate appointment?

To start the process of requesting employment accommodations through the ADA/504 Coordinator, please contact the ADA/504 Coordinator at; phone: (802) 656-0945.

Students with Graduate Appointments should work with SAS to start the process of requesting accommodations.  SAS will include the ADA/504 Coordinator in the process as necessary.

What is the process for assessing workplace accommodations?

For employees, the ADA/504 Coordinator leads an interactive process with the employee and those necessary for the implementation of accommodations.  This involves gathering medical documentation and reviewing the employee’s request together with all necessary parties. The goal of the process is to arrive at accommodations that allow the employee to perform all essential functions of their job while meeting the needs of the department or entity they are working in.

For graduate appointments, SAS and the ADA/504 Coordinator collaborate to lead this interactive process.

Will my supervisor, Principal Investigator, Department Chair, Faculty Advisor, etc. know that I requested workplace accommodations?

Accommodation-related information is treated as private information, meaning that information will be shared only with a limited number of individuals who “need to know” in order to assist in the review of the accommodation request, the determination, and the implementation of accommodation(s) where applicable. Certain persons may need to be aware of requested accommodations, workplace barriers leading to the need for an accommodation, and/or the outcome of accommodation decisions. These persons can include, but are not limited to, a supervisor or manager, Principal Investigator, Department Chair, Faculty Advisor, human resources personnel, facilities or technology professionals, first aid and safety personnel, or others assisting with implementing accommodations. Your specific diagnosis or medical condition is not shared by the SAS Specialist or ADA/504 Coordinator.

If I have academic accommodations through Student Accessibility Services, will these accommodations transfer to my graduate appointment or student employment?

No, academic accommodations do not automatically transfer to graduate appointments or employment. Workplace or Graduate Appointment accommodations are assessed separately from academic accommodations, and on a case-by-case basis. The types of accommodations needed in the academic setting will often vary from those needed in a graduate appointment or workplace. Accommodations that are reasonable in the academic environment may not be considered reasonable in the workplace and vice versa.

Do I have to go through both offices?

Only if you have a disability-related accommodation need for both academic accommodations for graduate coursework and graduate appointment, or workplace accommodations.

Do I need medical documentation to receive workplace accommodations?

If a student is working with SAS already and has provided medical documentation as part of the academic accommodation process, this documentation can be shared with the ADA/504 Coordinator.  In some cases, the ADA/504 Coordinator may need to request additional documentation from your treatment provider. If you are not working with SAS, the ADA/504 Coordinator will request documentation of your disability directly from you.

Why are there two different processes for academic accommodations and workplace accommodations?

In short, the accommodations needed for students with disabilities in the academic learning environment are often different from the accommodations needed in a graduate appointment or workplace. Academic accommodations are intended to ensure students have equal access to education. Workplace accommodations are intended to ensure individuals are able to perform all of the essential functions of their position and have equal access to employment, appointment, and benefits opportunities. These assessments are different.

I’m still not sure who I should contact regarding accommodations – Student Accessibility Services or the ADA/504 Coordinator?

Please feel free to contact Student Accessibility Services or the ADA/504 Coordinator for more clarity. Either office can help with specific questions and provide you with accurate information for moving forward.