Community College of Rhode Island

Go to 50th Anniversary website

Please Note:

Academic success is more likely if ALL accommodations and services are in place within the first two weeks of the semester. . . Please Plan Ahead!

Academic Calendar

Frequently Asked Questions

Disability Accommodations and Services

What Is A Disability?

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person may be considered “disabled” if she or he:

  • Has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Has a record of such a physical or mental condition; and/or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

“Major life activities” can include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

What Is A Reasonable Accommodation?

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments to the learning environment that allow qualified students with documented disabilities to have equal access to the college’s programs, facilities, and activities. However, accommodations do not change the core elements of a course or program or provide an undue advantage to the student using them. Rather, by modifying the non-essential elements of a course or program, accommodations provide students with disabilities the opportunity to learn by removing barriers. The College may deny requested accommodations that reduce academic standards, alter the fundamental nature of the course or program, are unreasonably expensive or impossible to administer.

What Types Of Accommodations Are Available?

Accommodations are highly individualized and are determined on a case-by-case basis. Examples of accommodations available to students with disabilities may include, but are not limited to program accommodations, classroom and course accommodations, testing accommodations and use of adaptive equipment. More detailed information and examples of accommodations available at CCRI are outlined in the Types of Accommodations section of this handbook.

Who is Eligible for Accommodations?

Students with disabilities who have current and complete documentation of their disability from a licensed physician, psychologist, or other appropriately qualified specialist may be eligible for accommodations. Students with special circumstances can call us to discuss their situation. Accommodations will not be provided without appropriate supporting documentation.

When Should Students Request Accommodations?

The sooner, the better! Students should make an appointment with a DSS Coordinator to discuss their needs before the beginning of each semester. We recommend that students make their requests for accommodations at least four weeks in advance of when the accommodations are needed, such as during the summer or intersession. All accommodations and services must be requested with reasonable advance notice.

Academic success is more likely if ALL accommodations and services are in place within the first two weeks of the semester. . . Please Plan Ahead!

How Is College Different From High School for Students with Disabilities?

Unlike elementary and secondary school, college offers access rather than entitlement to academic programs. This means that students with disabilities are not automatically entitled to a college education in the way they are entitled to a secondary education. However, the law does guarantee students an opportunity to pursue a college education by providing equal access to academic programs through reasonable accommodations granted by the college. Students with disabilities must still complete academic requirements with the same degree of mastery as students without disabilities. Therefore, students with disabilities can expect a more equal chance to do the same work as their peers, i.e., a more level playing field on which to compete. Remember, college students are considered adults, responsible for their own actions and decision making. Unlike high school, students must seek out and advocate for themselves and the services they need. DSS staff are ready to help and encourage, but students must take the responsibility for making it happen.

What If A Student Doesn’t Want Any Accommodations?

Students rightly want to feel that the work they do in college is of equal value to that of their classmates. They often express discomfort at feeling like they are getting some advantage others may not have. While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the civil rights of qualified students with disabilities, it also affirms their right to refuse any accommodation. Moreover, as adults, students are in control of their academic career and civil rights, and can make their own choices. If a student does not request accommodations and performs poorly without them, they must then live with the consequences of unsatisfactory academic performance. Since college courses cover more material, move faster, and are generally more difficult than high school classes, it often makes sense to make use of reasonable accommodations early in a student’s academic career. Later, when a student is more accustomed to the demands of the college’s academic environment, accommodations may not be needed as often.

Go to top of page

This page developed and maintained by Disability Services for Students. Send comments and suggestions to .


Last Updated: 9/19/12