Accessibility Services

Prospective and New Students with Disabilities

Tufts University provides reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities such as impaired hearing, speech, mobility, or vision and students with learning disabilities, students on the autism spectrum, attention differences, and chronic health disabilities. We also provide assistance to students with serious medical and mental health conditions. The StAAR Center coordinates academic, housing and other accommodations as needed. Please use the guide below to answer your specific questions.

How Do I Register for Academic Accomodations?
  1. You must first be accepted to Tufts University or be a currently enrolled student.
  2. You self-identify as having a disability and complete the StAAR Accommodation Registration Form. 
  3. Provide current diagnostic documentation that clearly identifies evidence of your disability. For more information on documentation guidelines see What Type of Documentation Do I Need?
  4. Meet with a StAAR Center professional to review your experience with your disability and discuss a college-level accommodations. 
How Do I Register for Housing Accommodations?
  1. First, fill out the housing application form provided by the Office of Residence Life.
  2. Register with the StAAR Center by completing all of the below steps by June 15th:
  3. The StAAR team will determine appropriate college-level accommodations required for access following your meeting. Please note- if the housing deadline is missed, StAAR cannot guarantee accommodation implementation.
  4. For more information on residence hall guidelines and policies, see the Residential Life website here.
How Do I Register for Dining-Related Accommodations?
  1. Tufts Meal Plan Information

Tufts University requires that all first- and second-year undergraduate students participate in a Meal Plan while living at Tufts. Selection of the specific plan is dependent on year of study and housing assignment.  For more information about choosing a meal plan, please visit the Tufts Dining website’s list of Meal Plan Options.

  1. Accommodations within the Meal Plan

Tufts recognizes that some students may have food allergies or dietary-related disabilities. StAAR will work with the student to determine if accommodations may be needed within the required meal plan. Accommodations may include access to a nutritionist, a gluten free or nut free pantry or access to the Alternative Meal Program. Accommodations do not include any reductions in the meal plan requirements.

If you are a student who would like more information about requesting accommodations to be used within your required meal plan, please contact StAAR.

How Do I register for Parking and Transporation-Related Accommodations?

Tufts has a number of transportation options for all students on campus which includes a shuttle service on the Medford and SMFA campuses.

If a student has a disability that warrants a parking-related accommodation, they must register with StAAR first. 

  • See transportation options available to students here.
  • For information on parking accommodations, see here.
  • Lyft Program for students with disabilities, see here.

 

What Type of Documentation Do I Need?

The StAAR Center must be able to substantiate why each requested accommodation is needed in order to achieve equal opportunity and understand how a specific accommodation relates to the student's disability. The StAAR center considers the student's experience with their disability, documentation of their disability. and the legitimate requirements and standards of classes, programs, and activities for which our services are authorized.

Below is a list of recommended types of documentation depending on the nature of the student's disability including forms that the student's medical provider can complete online. Additionally, it is recommended students also submit a history of accommodations, if applicable (such as an Individual Education Plan, 504 Accommodation plan, or letter from your previous institution). If you have more than one disability, StAAR asks that you provide documentation that includes both or documentation for each type of disability.

For Chronic Health Disabilities: 

Please have your clinician complete the Verification of Chronic Health Disability(ies)-Form.

  • Examples include: chronic health condition, immune compromised conditions, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, allergies, migraines, sleep conditions, cancer, physical disabilities, etc.).

For Mental Health Disabilities:

Please have your clinician complete the Verification of Mental Health Disability(ies)-Form.

  • Examples include: anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, multi- personality disorder, eating disorders, etc.

For Temporary Disabilities:

Please have your clinician complete the Verfication of Temporary Disability(ies)-Form

  • Examples include: injuries, broken bones, recovery from recent surgeries, concussions lasting more than 2-3 weeks, etc.

Previous Institutions:

For students looking to provide verification used at past institutions, please have a school professional complete the Verification of Previously Used Accommodations at Other Institutes of Higher Education-Form

FAQ for Prospective and New Registering Students

Who is responsible for providing documentation of disability?

Any Tufts student seeking accommodations should provide documentation of their disability. Once we have that documentation, StAAR will meet with each student individually to determine what accommodations are best for them

When must a student provide addiitonal disability documentation?

Documentation is necessary to inform our consideration of individualized accommodations. It is through the interactive process that StAAR informs each student on a case-by case-basis when updated or additional documentation is necessary.

 

What if I do not have documentation?

StAAR encourages any student who thinks that they might have a disability to get in touch with us. There are multiple academic resources provided by the StAAR center, which we can assist in connecting you with.

 

Is disability related information shared?

Diagnostic documentation is kept in a confidential file maintained by StAAR and is not part of the student’s academic transcript. While your diagnostic documentation is kept confidential in our office, as university officials, the StAAR staff are mandatory reporters when it comes to sexual assault or recent suicidal attempts or plans. This means that any explicit references to either of these topics that we read about in your documentation or discussed in our meetings at StAAR requires us to connect you with confidential support resources on campus. If you have already reached out to these resources, or would prefer not to disclose, we encourage you to discuss the relevant diagnosis and symptoms/impact without disclosing details to the event that you’d prefer to keep confidential. If in the future, you would to be referred to the resources available on campus, we can help connect you.

 

How recent must documentation be?

Documentation must allow StAAR to understand how a student is currently impacted by disability. The documentation should provide substantial clear evidence that supports the need for higher education accommodations. If a disability fluctuates or is progressive, updated documentation may be required.

Current StAAR-Registered Students

How to Request Academic Accommodations (Completed Every Semester)

After you have registered with StAAR office you will need to request your accommodations for each semester you intend to use them. Here’s how to request accommodations each semester:

  1. 3-5 business days before the first day of classes, log on to Accommodate.
  2. On the left-hand tab, select “semester request” -> choose semester -> select classes and accommodations -> submit.
  3. Within 48 business hours you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your letters through Accommodate.
  4. Print your accommodation letters and hand deliver them to your professors during the first week of classes (we recommend doing this in office hours).
  5. Follow StAAR policies and procedures for using your accommodations.
Exam Accommodation(s) Process(es) for Current Students

For students who qualify for exam accommodations, it is important to understand student responsibilities for implementing these accommodations.

  • First, you should request your semester accommodation letter and provide this to your instructor during the first week of classes.
  • Next, If you qualify for accommodations around exam duration, you must notify your professor with a request for extended time at least 7 days before the exam takes place. It is important to note that if professors are not provided reasonable time to make arrangements, accommodations may not be able to be implemented.
Housing Accommodations for Current Students

Please note that housing requests must be based on diagnosed disability. Student preferences are not considered. Medical documentation must be submitted that explicitly substantiates the accommodation request related to the diagnosed disability. Requests for specific room configurations, such as a single room, based on a student's desire for a quiet, undisturbed place to study cannot be considered. Living in a residence hall requires shared resources. Having a single room does not necessarily provide more opportunities for a quiet, distraction-free space to study than other room options. Alternative quiet study spaces are located across the campuses. Each housing accommodation request is reviewed individually and given careful consideration by SAS staff. The Office of Residential Life and Learning will implement those accommodations. SAS cannot determine where a placement (specific residence) should be.

This list is not exhaustive. Accommodations are developed on an individualized basis. Housing accommodation requests are due January 15th for returning students and June 15th for first-year students.

  • Fill out the general housing form through the Office of Residence Life when it is released during the fall semester. Indicate your need for a housing accommodation.
  • The StAAR Center will determine if an accommodation is needed and will communicate the decision to the Office of Residence Life. Please note, if the housing deadline is missed, we cannot gurantee that an accommodation can be provided.
  • Students will be notified of their specific housing assignments, with appropriate accommodations, in February.
  • For additional information on assistance animals in the residence halls , please see the below field.
 
Assistance/Service Animals in the Residence Halls

Service Animals

A service animal is any dog or mini horse that is trained to do work or to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, intellectual, or other mental health disability. The tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals. Service animals are permitted to accompany their handler in all locations at the university, unless safety for the animal or others is a concern.

If you need a service animal, you are not required to register with the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) office, however we recommend you consider registering to let us know you are bringing a service animal to campus. SAS wants to support all students with disabilities as fully as possible.

Assistance Animals

Assistance animals (also known as emotional support animals, comfort animals, or therapy animal) are often used as part of a medical treatment plan and are not considered Service Animals under the ADA.  Assistance animals may provide assistance with tasks, offer companionship, or help with the effects of disabilities such as depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. Assistance animals provide people with therapeutic contact to improve their physical, social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

Tufts will review, and if reasonable, approve requests for assistance animals. If you would like an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation, you are required to register with the SAS office. We will discuss your request with you and outline the parameters of a possible reasonable accommodation. There are specific limitations regarding where assistance Animals are permitted on campus. If you feel the support of an assistance animal is necessary for your disability, please contact us for more information.

For more information regarding the University's policies regarding service animals, assistance animals and pets, please refer to the following Office of Equal Opportunity policy page.

FAQ for Currently Registered Students

Do I need to request accommodations every semester?

Yes! To request your accommodation letter, log onto Accommodate and submit a “semester request” in your Accommodate page

Can my professors request and arrange my accommodations?

 It is the responsibility of the student to request their accommodation letter from StAAR every semester and then provide it to their professor (followed by a conversation around accommodation implementation). It is then the professor’s responsibility to put the approved accommodations in place in the classroom.

What do I do if I encounter an accessibility barrier at Tufts?

To report a barrier, you may connect with the StAAR team or Report a Physical or Online Barrier

 

Accessibility Policies and Procedures

Appeals and Grievance Processes

Reasonable accommodations are afforded to any student who is registered with the Student Accessibility and Academic Resource Center (StAAR Center), who has been deemed eligible by the StAAR staff in accordance with Tufts policies and in accordance with state and federal regulations. Accommodations must be requested by the student, and be in conjunction with the student’s documented disability, and must not substantially alter the educational program, intent, process, nor be an administrative burden to execute for the parties involved. The process of arriving at accommodations for a student involves: (1) documentation submission and review (documentation must meet the specifications outlined on the Student Accessibility Services office website); (2) An interview with StAAR staff; (3) Student’s request for specific accommodations. Requests for accommodations must be timely and cannot be enacted retroactively.

Procedures

If a Tufts University student believes that they have had a request for accommodation denied by a StAAR staff member based on a failure of judgment, failure of process, or failure of information, the student has the right to seek an appeal. Appeals can be resolved informally or formally. A student can appeal a decision based on a failure of judgment when the individual believes the determination made by StAAR satff was incorrect in their judgment regarding the need for, application of, or implementation of an accommodation.

A student can appeal a decision based on a failure of process when the individual believes the determination made by StAAR staff was incorrect due to a failure on the staff’s part to dutifully perform the process of determining eligibility or determining a reasonable accommodation. Generally speaking, a failure of information is informally handled by the student providing updated or requested documentation.

A Note about Documentation

Documentation supplied by a licensed clinician must include recommendations for accommodations. The recommendations made by clinician’s are weighed heavily in determination of accommodations, but, are not binding in nature. The StAAR reserves the right to disagree/override recommendations made by a clinician. The nature of the disagreement with recommendations may be due to (not an exhaustive list) differences in learning environments; differences in missions from K-12 special education services and higher education; lack of application between the disability and recommendation, and inappropriate use of the term “accommodation”.

Informal Appeals

Prior to initiating an informal appeal, the student should contact the Dean of the StAAR to discuss their concerns about the denied accommodation. The dean has the responsibility to consider the student’s request and respond to the student’s concerns in a timely manner. The student has the responsibility to identify to the dean the nature of their appeal (failure of judgment, failure of process, or failure of information) and to explain why the individual believes the determination made by the as erroneous in nature. The StAAR Center dean has the responsibility to carefully consider the points made by the student, and in writing, inform the student of any changes based on the discussion. It is not uncommon for the dean of StAAR to offer alternative accommodations in lieu of the requested accommodation. If they believe the alternative provides an appropriate solution given the interaction of the student’s disability and the Tufts environment. It must be noted that the dean does not have to change the original denial of accommodation based on the appeal, but must clearly explain the reasoning behind the denial for the student.

Formal Appeals Regarding Housing Accommodations

If the student remains unsatisfied after an informal appeal has been sought out, they may make a formal appeal through the Dean of Student Affairs Office. In order to file a formal appeal with the Dean of Student Affairs Office, the student must provide a written request for an appeal based on the individual’s belief of StAAR Center’s failure to accommodate based on either judgment or process, (not based on a lack of information). The Dean of Student Affairs Office will review the request and meet with the student in a timely manner to discuss the appeal. If reasonable, the Dean of Student Affairs Office will work with the student to develop a suitable plan for accommodation or provide a reasonable explanation as to why the request was denied. Any accommodation plan developed between the student and the Dean will be enacted by the usual methods of the StAAR Center, within a reasonable period of time, typically 7 days. All outcomes of a formal appeal will be communicated in writing to the student and the StAAR Center within a reasonable time frame.

Formal Appeals Regarding Academic Accommodations

If the student remains unsatisfied after an informal appeal has been sought out, they may make a formal appeal to the appeal representative for the School of Arts and Sciences (Professor and Dean of Academic Affairs, Sam Thomas at Sam.thomas@tufts.edu ) or to the appeal representative for the School of Engineering (Professor and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Chris Swan at Chris.swan@tufts.edu).

In order to file a formal appeal, the student must provide a written request for an appeal based on the individual’s belief of the StAAR Center’s failure to accommodate based on either judgment or process (not based on a lack of information). The appeal representative will review the request in a timely manner to discuss the appeal. If reasonable, the appeal representative will work with the student to develop a suitable plan for accommodation or provide a reasonable explanation as to why the request was denied. Any accommodation plan developed between the student and the Dean will be enacted by the usual methods of the StAAR Center, within a reasonable period of time, typically 7 days. All outcomes of a formal appeal will be communicated in writing to the student and the StAAR Center within a reasonable time frame.

Grievance Process

A student who has failed to achieve satisfactory resolution through the appellate processes may file a complaint with the Tufts University Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO). Students follow the procedures established by the OEO and should contact the OEO at: 

Office of Equal Opportunity

196 Boston Avenue
3rd Floor, Suite 3800
Medford Campus- Medford, MA 02155
Phone: (617) 627-3298
Fax: (617) 627-3150
oeo@tufts.edu

 

StAAR Handbook for Registered Students w/ Disabilities

The guidelines, policies and procedures that appear in the StAAR Handbook were in effect at the time of its original posting on the StAAR website. This handbook does not create any express or implied contractual rights between the University and any student, applicant for admission, or other persons. The information in this handbook is subject to change at any time. This handbook is prepared and produced by the StAAR Center. 

Web Accessibility Policy

Tufts is committed to equal access of all electronic technologies, including websites, for all students. As a result, Tufts has implemented the Accessible Digital Accessibility Protocol to make sure that accessibility is part of our websites and learning management systems. Please refer to the Digital Accessibility Guidelines on AccessTufts for more information.

Procurement Policy

Tufts is committed to equal access of all electronic technologies for all students. As a result, Tufts has implemented the Accessible Digital Technologies Procurement Protocol to make sure that any digital technology is evaluated for accessibility before the university enters into a purchase agreement. Please refer to the Procurement Protocol on AccessTufts for more information