To receive reasonable accommodations for a disability at Vanderbilt University, students are to apply for services through the Access Center. Any student who wishes to apply for services must first be accepted for admission to Vanderbilt University.
Please keep in mind that the process below must be completed before any accommodation recommendations can be made to faculty. On average, the process takes at least two weeks to complete; however, if the student’s documentation does not meet all of the requirements listed from the documentation guidelines, the process will be delayed.
For more detailed information about our services, please see below or contact the Access Center Monday – Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (615) 343-9727.
Reasonable Accommodation Request Process
To request reasonable accommodations, students are to make their request known to the Access Center and submit, for review, a current copy of their disability documentation. Documentation will be assessed to determine eligibility of services and, if approved, the student will be notified to contact the Access Center to arrange an orientation meeting. The meeting usually lasts about thirty minutes and introduces the student to the staff as well as service procedures for each semester. Afterwards, the student will receive an accommodation letter to provide and discuss with their instructors in order to have the accommodations administered.
Reasonable accommodation arrangements are not retroactive. For example, say a student chooses not to submit his or her accommodation letter to the instructor, then later changes his or her mind. The accommodations will not begin until the letter has been given to the instructor.
Types of Services
A wide range of support services are provided to students with disabilities at Vanderbilt University. Services and resources are determined on an individual basis considering the students needs.
- Notetakers or access to class notes
- Readers and scribes
- Access to recorded textbooks and materials
- Exam accommodations
- Sign language interpreter
- Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)
- Priority scheduling
- Access to adaptive technology computer equipment and software
- Phonic Ear FM systems (assisted amplification device) available for loan
- Guidance, counseling, referral, and advocacy services to students
The Access Center has written criteria for documentation used to assess a student's request for reasonable accommodations. The Access Center staff reviews each student's documentation to determine if it meets the criteria to receive services. Students requesting reasonable accommodations are required to make their request known to the Access Center and submit their documentation to verify eligibility of services under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
To establish that an individual is covered under the ADA, documentation must indicate that the disability substantially limits a major life activity. If academic or classroom-based adjustments and accommodations are requested, learning must be one of the major life activities affected.
Reasonable accommodations are individually determined and must be supported by the disability documentation. To qualify for disability services at Vanderbilt, students are required to provide the Access Center diagnostic documentation from a licensed clinical professional familiar with the history and functional implications of the impairments. Disability documentation must adequately verify the nature and extent of the disability in accordance with current professional standards and techniques. It must also clearly substantiate the need for each of the student's specific accommodation requests.
All documentation must be submitted on the official letterhead of the professional describing the disability. The report should be dated, signed and include the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification. Students requesting services for the manifestations of multiple disabilities must provide supporting information of all such conditions. If the original documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability or reasonable accommodation, the university has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any costs incurred in obtaining additional documentation when the original records are inadequate are incurred by the student. In general, it is not acceptable for such documentation to include a diagnosis or testing performed by a member of the student's family.
Reasons for ineligibility for services can result from one or more of the following:
- Out-dated documentation
- Insufficient information
- Documentation developed by a relative
- Inappropriate professional making the diagnosis
- No diagnosis given
- For a Learning Disability or Attention Deficit Disorder, no IQ test data or no achievement test battery (with scores) administered to support the diagnosis
- Average test scores (no scores representing a significant limitation)
- Unsigned report
- Report not written on evaluator's letterhead
- No functional limitations given (for instance, how the diagnosis affects the individual related to the accommodation request)
- Diagnosis based upon one subtest score with no additional support
- In the case of a head injury, no assessment conducted after trauma or the recovery period.
NOTE: An Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan from high school does not typically provide the needed documentation or diagnosis. A physician's letter or note is not sufficient to document Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), nor can prescribed medication be used to document a disability.
All applicants go through the same admissions review process and are admitted based on the quality of their academic record. As there is no separate admissions process for applicants with disabilities, students with disabilities are competitively admitted to Vanderbilt University every year.
Federal law prohibits making preadmissions inquiry about disabilities. If you believe, however, that some aspect of your academic record was affected by your disability, you may choose to share that with the Admissions Office. Information regarding disabilities, voluntarily given or inadvertently received, will not adversely affect any admission decision. Common examples of events that students choose to share include:
A disability occurring or having been diagnosed during the high school years with a subsequent and substantial improvement in academic performance once appropriate disability-related services or medical treatment were provided; or
An uneven grade pattern that results from a disability occurring during high school (e.g. traumatic brain injury or disabling illness) with grades dropping and then improving as the student recovers.
You may provide a personal statement regarding your experiences as an individual with a disability in an academic setting describing the types of services you have received, your particular strengths and/or academic interests, or other relevant information that will assist the Admissions Office in understanding your unique high school experience. However, it is not necessary that you submit this information with your application materials.
PLEASE NOTE: Students who have received disability services and accommodations throughout high school will have their academic record considered in a manner consistent with that of other applicants. While Vanderbilt University will consider extenuating circumstances that occur in any applicant's high school experience, all applicants who are admitted have met the competitive admissions requirements in place at the time of the review.
Should you be admitted to Vanderbilt University and want more information about the specific services provided by the Student Access Services office, you may contact us at (615) 322-4705 or send your complete disability documentation to us with a review request for eligibility of services.
Individuals interested in applying for admission to Vanderbilt University are encouraged to contact the Admissions Office to obtain an application and university catalog. Admission requirements and deadlines are outlined in the Vanderbilt undergraduate catalogs. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions contact information is as follows:
Office of Undergraduate Admissions Office
2305 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203-1727
By phone: (615) 322-2561 or (800) 288-0432
On the Web: www.vanderbilt.edu/admissions
Students with disabilities who are interested in studying abroad are encouraged to do so. While the laws in other countries may not mirror those of the United States, concerning the provision of accommodations to students with disabilities, the Access Center staff and International Programs offices will attempt to facilitate equivalent access in such programs. To request assistance with accommodations in the Study Abroad Program, contact the Access Center staff prior to beginning your program outside the U.S.
Temporary Medical Restrictions
Vanderbilt students who have injuries, surgeries or other conditions which will temporarily restrict them on campus can contact the Access Center staff if some type of short-term assistance may be needed. A medical statement will be required when equipment will be needed during the short period the person is recovering.