January 29, 2021

Student Accommodation Handbook

New & Prospective Rams

Are you a prospective or new Ram? Have you just accepted your admission to CSU and you wonder “what’s next?” Check out our New Student website for a step by step guide as you wait for your Ram Orientation and class registration.

Student Rights & Responsibilities

As a “qualified student with a disability”, or in other words, someone with a mental or physical that substantially limits a major life activity, you are guaranteed equal access to public goods and services (ADA Title II).

According to CSU Policy 12-0155-003 Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities, you have the following rights:

  • to have their personal information regarding their disability kept confidential
  • to not be discriminated against on the basis of disability
  • to achieve equitable access to educational environment
  • to have their preference of the type of accommodation considered first before alternatives are provided
  • to appeal (see Complaint Procedures) any accommodation determination related to the accommodation process

You also have the following responsibilities:

  • to request reasonable accommodations by contacting SDC
  • to provide documentation of the disability, when necessary, to support requests for reasonable accommodation
  • to engage in the individualized interactive process with the SDC to determine reasonable accommodations
  • to communicate with instructors regarding the accommodations, how they will be implemented, and any difficulties or concerns that arise
  • to notify the SDC when an accommodation process is not working effectively or not being implemented according to the student’s needs


Individual with a disability as defined by the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA and ADAAA is a person who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
  • has a record of such impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Major Life Activities may include:

Lifting, sleeping, concentrating, breathing, working, eating, walking, standing, reaching, thinking, reading, bending, hearing, seeing, speaking, learning, sitting, caring for self, interacting with others, performing manual tasks, and communicating.

Major life activities may also include major bodily functions such as immune, hemic, digestive, bowel, bladder, genitourinary, lymphatic, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, reproductive, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, special sense organs/skin, and normal cell growth.

An individual with a disability who is otherwise qualified is:

  • An individual who has a substantial impairment and meets the skill, experience, and education requirements of a position held or desired and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodations; or
  • An individual who has a substantial impairment and meets the requirements needed to participate in, and benefit from, an educational activity or other university-sponsored program.

Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations for an otherwise qualified employee include any modification, adjustment or accommodation to a job, practice, policy, or the work environment that enables the individual to perform the essential functions of their position without creating undue hardship for the institution. Accommodations must also be appropriate and related to the individual’s needs due to the disability. Reasonable accommodations for otherwise qualified students include any modification, adjustment or accommodation that may be made without altering the essential function of a course, program of study, or other opportunity to participate in or benefit from it. Examples include, but are not limited to:

Accommodations Process

Requesting accommodations is an interactive process that students, faculty, and Student Disability Center staff engage in. This process only begins once the student initiates it. Please note: Accommodations do not automatically transfer from high school or a previous college to CSU. A meeting with an Accommodation Specialist is still required to determine the unique access barriers you may encounter at this institutions and accommodations to address them.

New First-Time Accommodations:

If you’ve never worked with the SDC before and this is your first time requesting accommodations, please follow these steps to connect with us:

  1. Make a First Appointment with the SDC Front Desk staff by emailing sdc@colostate.edu or calling 970-491-6385.
  2. Meet with your Accommodation Specialist to discuss your individual, unique access barriers, strengths and interests and brainstorm accommodations for you.
  3. Your Accommodation Specialist may request some documentation from a qualified medical provider depending on your situation and accommodations requested.
  4. Next, your Accommodation Specialist will send an Accommodation Letter to your professors by email and copy you so everyone is on the same page. See the section, “Unpacking the Accommodation Letter” for more info.
  5. From there, communicate with your professors about the logistics of your accommodations. If you need support, contact your Accommodation Specialist and they are happy to assist.

Returning Students:

If you have received accommodations at CSU before, please follow these steps:

  1. If you have no changes to make on your requested accommodations, submit your Accommodation Letter Request Form and your Accommodation Specialist will send your accommodation letter to your professors and copy you via email. You must complete this form each semester to receive your letters.
  2. If you wish to make changes to your accommodations, contact your Accommodation Specialist to make adjustments before sending accommodation letters to your professors.
  3. From there, communicate with your professors about the logistics of your accommodations. If you need support, contact your Accommodation Specialist and they are happy to assist.

If you have questions about the accommodations process, or would like to schedule an appointment with an accommodations specialist contact the SDC at 970-491-6385 or visit the main office located in the TILT Building, room 121.

Unpacking the Accommodation Letter

The Accommodation Letter is a notification to your professors about the general accommodations you have been approved to receive through the individualized, interactive process in consideration of the access barriers you experience in a typical educational environment. In some cases, your accommodations may require modification in order to fit the essential functions or objectives of a course.

Sample Accommodation Letter


Letterhead & Signature

  • Makes it officially recognized as an accommodation letter from the SDC
  • It is against the Student Code of Conduct to forge or falsify an accommodation letter
  • Accommodation letters are dated to reflect the date at which the accommodations take effect; accommodations cannot be applied to dates prior to the listed date, and may only take place from the listed date and onward.

Professor & Student Information

  • Professor name, course, and section number addresses the letter to the appropriate faculty member
  • Student name and CSU ID notifies the professor of the individual for which the accommodations are required


  • Describes the purpose of the accommodation letter in informing the faculty of the students’ legally required accommodations
  • Refers to legal grounds of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1978, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990


  • Breaks up the exam accommodations and classroom accommodations to allow for quick reference immediately prior to an exam
  • Provides brief description and instructions to faculty about accommodations needed

Faculty Communication

  • If a professor has a concern about an accommodation, is unsure how to provide it, or feels it fundamentally alters a core course objective, they must contact the SDC Accommodation Specialist listed on the letter as soon as possible, preferably within 2 business days. The SDC specialist and professor will negotiate the concern, and if necessary come up with an alternate accommodation, and then include the student once the issue has been resolved. If the student feels the access barrier has not been resolved, they may discuss an alternate or new accommodation to mitigate the barrier.

Grievance Procedures

Students are encouraged to file a complaint/grievance if they feel they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly. The below information outlines the different processes students can follow to file a complaint/grievance.

Resolving issues within the Student Disability Center

The staff of the SDC are committed to working with and for each student who comes into the office. However, it is also recognized that not all students will be satisfied with their interaction with the staff of SDC.

If a student has a complaint about any of the staff in the SDC, the student is encouraged to contact the SDC director to help resolve the issue. If the student has a complaint about the SDC director, the student is free to contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs to help resolve the issue.

When a student requests specific accommodations, an SDC specialist will consider all relevant information provided by the student to determine whether or not the request is reasonable as an accommodation. If a student feels the decision made is not appropriate for their needs, the student can meet with the SDC director to further discuss the student’s situation and to see if any changes can or should be made.

If the student is still dissatisfied with the outcome of their request for an accommodation, the student can avail themselves of other resources to help resolve the issue including meeting with the Student Resolution Center or by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

If the student feels the SDC decision is discriminatory, the student is free to file a complaint with the Office of Equal Opportunity as described below.

Resolving Issues with Other Entities on Campus

If a student encounters an issue with an instructor or staff member where they feel they are being denied equal access or discriminated against they are first encouraged to contact the SDC to see if staff can resolve the issue. The accommodations specialists and the director will work to resolve the issue without escalating the situation. However, if the issue is not able to be resolved the student may need to file a formal complaint.

Students wishing to file a formal complaint of discrimination need to contact the Office of Equal Opportunity. Once the complaint is filed OEO will conduct a thorough investigation and work to resolve the situation.

Students who file complaints are protected from any retaliation.

If a complaint involves being denied a certain accommodation, the student will be granted the accommodation until the issue is resolved.

OEO Grievance Resources

Office of Civil Rights

Students who feel they have been discriminated again are also free to file a complaint with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights.

OCR Contact Information

Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, D.C., 20202-1100
Phone: 1-800-421-3481, TDD: 1-877-521-2172
Email: ocr@ed.gov
Website:  www.ed.gov/ocr.

Tips & Tricks

This section provides tips and tricks related to specific accommodations and access barriers Rams have experienced particular challenges with recently.

Attendance Flexibility and Deadline Extensions

General Info:
  • Attendance and assignment deadline flexibility accommodations are intended for use when access barriers related to your disability arises. They generally do not apply to non-disability related events, such as child care needs, work, or weddings/funerals
  • Connect with your professor in each class as soon as possible in the beginning of each semester by email, phone, video call, or in person to establish a communication plan (see a sample below).
  • Employ self-care strategies to manage stress, which may impact sleep, eating habits, memory, focus, concentration, and overall learning and class attendance. For assistance with this,
  • Create a template email addressed to each professor and save it in your draft folder. You can use the template email below as a starting point. When you are unable to make it to class due to your disability, all you have to do is send the template email instead of creating a brand new one when you feel unwell or are incapacitated.
Sample Communication Plan:

Hello Professor [Name],

I saw that you received my accommodation letter on [date] and I would like to set up a plan for communication with you this semester. It is helpful if we can start with the following information:

  • What is your preferred communication method for when I need to notify you when I need to use my accommodation? (e.g. email, phone, text, MS teams chat)
  • Due to the nature of my disability, I may not be able to give you advance notice when I miss class/assignment deadline. However, it is still important that we are on the same page. What is your expectation of timeliness in communicating my need for attendance flexibility related to my disability? (e.g. within 24-48 hours of class, within the week, within the semester)?
  • Sometimes I may unpredictably miss a class during which an exam, quiz, presentation or other graded activity may occur. How should we plan for this if this occurs? (e.g. make up the activity within 24-48 hours?)

I look forward to working with you and learning in your course. Thank you.

[Student Name
Course & Section Number]

Sample Email to Professors:

Hi Professor [Name],

I will miss/have missed today’s lecture/assignment deadline due to my disability and will utilize my attendance flexibility accommodation. Since I missed class, I also missed [quiz/exam/participation/etc.] and will make this up within the timeframe we established.

Thank you,

[Student Name
Course Name & Section]

Disability in the Workplace