Types of Accommodations

DSS is committed to providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access for student with disabilities, and accommodations are individualized and are made on a case-by-case basis.

While this information describes the most commonly-requested special accommodations at Rensselaer, it is not exhaustive. Questions regarding an accommodation which has not been included here should be directed to DSS.

Students must be registered with DSS to receive any accommodation, but accommodations that alter the nature of the course or program are not permitted. Rensselaer has no obligation to provide accommodations previously provided by and/or recommended by outside entities.

Classroom Materials

Students may receive alternatively-formatted classroom materials – such as audio taped exams, manuscripts or closed captioning of videos shown in class, enlarged text handouts, etc – from their professors. Students should approach faculty with their faculty memorandum at the beginning of each semester to ensure they receive approved accommodations.


Students may receive alternatively formatted textbooks, such as those offered in audio, Braille, and electronic text formats. Students in need of an alternate format should submit the Alternate Format Text Request Form and originals or copies of their purchase receipt  for the text.

Please note that if the text is available for purchase in an alternative format, students must purchase that alternative format. Requests may take ten to 17 business days.

Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil software, which is connected to a scanner and allows students to convert text to audio, is located in a semi-private location on the first floor of the Folsom Library. Students who have been approved for use of Kurzweil should contact George Biggar for access to the software.

Rensselaer also has licenses available which allow approved students to download the software to their personal computers.

Students requesting housing accommodations and/or a waiver on the basis of a disability should complete the request form through the Student Living and Learning website. In addition, students should submit documentation to DSS.

Housing accommodation requests should be made in accordance with the following dates.

For the Fall Semester

  • February 1 for returning students
  • May 15 for freshman and transfers

For the Spring Semester

  • December 20 for all students

For the Summer Semester

  • February 1 for all students

RPI will accept and consider requests for housing accommodations at any time. The individual making the request for accommodation should submit the required documentation to the Office of Disability Services for Students and complete the request form through the Office of Student Living and Learning as soon as possible before moving into university housing.

Note that if the accommodation request is made after the stated deadlines, RPI cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first semester or term of occupancy immediately following the belated request.

If the need for accommodation arises when an individual already resides in university housing, the student should submit the required documentation to the Office of Disability Services for Students and complete the request form through the Office of Student Living and Learning Services for Students as soon as possible. However, as stated above, RPI cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual's accommodation needs during the semester or term which the request is received.

Documentation should be sent to DSS only, and should include a rationale for all requested housing accommodations; please see documentation guidelines for more information.

There are several forms of specific note-taking assistance and accommodations offered at Rensselaer.

Permission to Record Lectures

Although many professors allow students to record lectures, some do not. Students may be given this accommodation to allow them to audio and/or video record their lectures, but they must inform their faculty when they plan to record a lecture.

Provision of Lecture Notes

Many professors post their PowerPoint slides online, but some do not. Students may be given access to professors’ slides either before or after class to assist with note-taking.

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Students may be given a Smartpen – which offers offer several different features to assist students with note-taking and building note-taking skills – to use during their tenure at Rensselaer. Students who receive this adaptive device will be given a short tutorial on how to use the technology.

Peer Note-Taking

Rensselaer does employ a peer note-taking system. but it requires students who are approved to receive the service to begin by attempting to find another student in the class who is willing to share their notes.

If the student is not successful, they should approach their faculty member(s) for assistance with obtaining a peer note-taker. The faculty member(s) will then contact the class – either via announcement or email – to inform them that one of the students has a need for a note-taker, but will not identify the student having the disability to protect their confidentiality. Once a potential note-taker has been identified, they should be directed to contact DSS for details on how to assist the student.

Please note that students who make use of peer note-takers are not exempt from attending class; failure to attend their classes could result in the loss of note-taker accommodations.

Extended time

Students may be given extended time to complete exams, quizzes and, when appropriate, in-classroom assignments. While time-and-a- half (or 50% extended time) is considered the standard in post-secondary education, there are circumstances in which it is appropriate for students to receive more than this time allotment.

However, un-timed or unlimited amount of time for exams, as well as extended time for out-of-class assignments, is not permitted.

Distraction-reduced alternate testing environment

Students may be permitted to take their exams in alternate, distraction-reduced environments agreed upon between the student and the faculty member prior to the exam.

Please note that Rensselaer does not have a testing center. Students are expected to discuss any testing accommodations and/or meet with their professors at least one week prior to any exam to make a plan to receive their accommodations for that exam.

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