Accommodations for a Chronic Condition and/or Disability

Legal protections and access to higher education are provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) . Since the mid-1970s, universities and colleges have had a legal obligation to provide accommodations for students with disabilities. The number of students with disabilities in higher education continues to grow through time, and the greatest increase is in students with so-called hidden disabilities such as learning disabilities, ADHD, and psychiatric disabilities.

There are significant differences between accommodations in high school and college, in terms of the students' role and the institutions' role. (For a comparison, see New to College or Diagnosis?)

As a U-M student, you are responsible for advocating for any academic accommodations, including registering as a student who has a chronic condition/disability, determining a plan for accommodations and contacting/working with instructors/professors.

Initial registration: If you want to request accommodations for a chronic condition/disability, you must register with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSWD).  Registered students receive many benefits, and all students wishing accommodations must register with SSWD. Here's how to register: 

  1. Provide current documentation that supports chronic condition/disability and the accommodation request. Have your physician fill out a Verification of Chronic Disability Form (link to pdf form); having this form completed will speed the process.
  2. Call SSWD at 734-763-3000 to schedule an appointment
  3. Attend your appointment to determine registration and develop a plan for accommodations.

Arrange accommodations:  Each term, after registering for or dropping/ adding classes, contact your SSWD Coordinator of Services to determine whether accommodations are needed or whether they should be changed or dropped.

Disclosure:  Your professors will not be automatically informed of your need for accommodations. If you would like them to know or to make accommodations for you, you must disclose to them that you are registered at SSWD before or during the first week of classes and discuss any special needs. Here are tips from SSWD for Communicating with Instructors. See also Disclosure

How will accommodations affect academics?  It's important to consider how any accommodations will affect academics. Some considerations are discussed at Handling Academics.