Student Registration Process
Learn how to set up accommodations and student supports, from scheduling your first appointment to annual renewal of services.
General accommodations process
In order to receive accommodations, undergraduate and graduate students must follow the steps below.
Schedule an appointment
Complete an intake form and provide documentation
Use our online intake form to let us know what accommodations you request. The form includes prompts for you to provide supporting documentation. In doing so, you must meet the following requirements:
- For cognitive/learning disabilities, upload your most recent, up-to-date neuropsychological evaluation. The evaluation should date back no longer than three years and be based on adult norms.
- For physical, mental health, or chronic medical disabilities, upload a one-page letter, on official letterhead, from a licensed off-campus provider that states your a.) diagnosis, b.) symptoms and limitations, c.) prognosis, and d.) plans for care. Ask your provider to clearly list their credentials on the letter.
- Make sure all documents you submit are clear, comprehensive and current, and allow sufficient time for us to review your request and arrange all necessary accommodations.
- All documentation you submit must be in English. Any needed translation is your responsibility. You may choose to use a documentation translation resource, such as DeepL or LinguaVox.
- Obtain and supply our office with ALL necessary information regarding your disability. If you need up-to-date neuropsychological testing, we can help you find a local clinician/provider.
If you submit documentation that lacks required information, we will ask you to provide additional, updated information and/or refer you to a medical professional in Providence who can see you or conduct additional testing.
We recognize that a variety of factors can make it difficult for you to obtain supporting documentation. If you do due diligence in trying obtain required documents but cannot provide what we may need from you, whether due to logistics, finances or lack of insurance, we will try not to let such outside factors turn into barriers for receiving accommodations.
In such cases, we may accept any documentation you have in the moment and ask that you submit a detailed, written self-report. We will then consider on a case-by-case basis whether to provide accommodations, and encourage you to work toward obtaining documentation in between academic semesters.
Meet with us to determine reasonable accommodations
At your initial appointment we will discuss:
- your documentation
- any previous accommodations
- accommodation eligibility
- processes related to potential accommodations
- next steps
During this meeting we will determine if we need additional documentation. You can also ask any questions you have about any part of the accommodations process.
In certain classes, some specific academic accommodations may not be reasonable. When this is the case, we may involve a team of faculty and staff in the review process to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate.*
If we determine that no further action is required for you to receive accommodations (e.g., additional documentation, assessments, etc.), you will receive your accommodation letter at the meeting. The letter is valid for one academic year. You need to meet with us each year to reassess your accommodations and receive an updated letter (see item 5 below).
* Reasonable accommodations are adjustments to a learning environment, course or program that allows a student with a documented disability to have equal access to the same rights and services as students without disabilities. Unreasonable accommodations alter requirements that are essential to the program of instruction, cause fundamental alteration in the nature of the program, impose undue financial or administrative burden or pose an appreciable threat to personal or public safety. Accommodations deemed unreasonable are denied. During our review process, we may involve a team of faculty and staff to determine whether an accommodation is unreasonable.
Provide accommodations letter to course instructors
Take advantage of college as an opportunity to learn self-advocacy. You are responsible for delivering a copy of your accommodations letter to your course instructors and other relevant faculty. The copy is theirs to retain.
When you deliver the letter to an instructor, discuss with them which of your accommodations you will use for their class, as well as what you need from them to make those accommodations work smoothly.
You are required to discuss your accommodations with your instructor(s). You are not required to disclose the nature of your disability.
Linked here are some tips for talking with your professors about your accommodations.
Meet with us annually to reassess and obtain updated letter
Each fall (at minimum) you need to meet with our office to review your accommodations, after which we will provide you with an updated accommodations letter for the new academic year. We also encourage you to meet with us each semester to assess how your academic schedule may impact your established accommodations.
Accommodation request timelines
Initial request for services
You should provide documentation two weeks before you need to have accommodations in place.
Accommodation letter for faculty
We will provide students with accommodation letters to show to faculty within one week of your request, provided we have received all documentation and approved your request.
You must make your request for classroom relocation during the registration period, each and every semester. Exceptions are made for emergencies.
Faculty requests for advanced copies of course materials
Make your request two weeks before you need them for your class(es).
Braille print service
For documents five pages or fewer, you must provide them at least one week before you need them converted to braille. For anything longer, send your materials to us with at least two weeks advance notice. Submit all documents either via email or on a CD.
For texts up to 50 pages, provide them to us at least one week before they are needed for class. We will not convert entire textbooks to large print unless it is required for the class. If the entire textbook is required, we will create a PDF or .doc file that you can read on compatible electronic devices.
Electronic format books
Submit your materials to us 4–8 weeks before they are needed for class.
Make your request at least one week before each exam unless you’ve made other agreed-upon arrangements. We prefer to receive course syllabi stating exam schedules during the first week of the semester.
For both semester-long classes and one-time class events (e.g., an exam), provide at least two weeks advance notice.
Notify us at least two weeks before the semester starts.
Notify us at least two weeks before the semester starts.
Program-specific and additional info
Brown|RISD Dual Degree
If you are enrolled in the five-year BRDD program, you are considered an active student at both RISD and Brown, with full access to the resources and services of both institutions.
If you need accommodations or services due to a disability or medical condition, you should contact Brown’s Student Accessibility Services office in order to receive accommodations for Brown courses, as well as DSS for the courses you take at RISD.
RISD Global travel programs
When participating in study abroad courses and programs through RISD Global, you may encounter challenges related to accessibility and accommodations.
Just as laws and cultural norms differ from country to country, so might their disability accommodations and perceptions. Be aware that the level of accessibility, services and accommodation to which you have access at RISD may not be available to you at your course/program site or host institution. There may also be instances of other countries providing access and accommodations in different ways than at RISD and in the US.
When preparing to take part in global study, take time to learn how disabilities are regarded and accommodated in the country (or countries) to which you’ll travel and study. Think about how your disability will impact how you interact with new cultural environments.
Flexibility is key when studying abroad. Be sure to communicate your needs and, if necessary, consider alternative ways to meet them. You may consider:
- the resources of your host country, which may not be the same as those of the US.
- your host country’s views on accessibility.
- how legal regulations—both domestic and international—apply when you travel.
- the cultural norms of your host country, which may be more or less accommodating of certain abilities.
- whether any prescription medications you need are allowed abroad. If your medication is not allowed in your host country, speak to your doctor about alternative/supplemental medications that you may take while abroad.
If you plan to take part in a study abroad course or program, work with our office and with your program coordinator/instructor to assess how your accommodations may work while abroad.
You are not required to inform your advisor or program provider of a disability if you choose to take part in global study. However, many accommodations require early planning, so make your request as soon as possible—preferably as you begin to plan your study-abroad experience—so that we may better assist you.
Continuing Education (CE), Pre-College and Project Open Door
If you are participating in a RISD CE course/program, in RISD Pre-College or in Project Open Door, register with DSS by completing an application for services (PDF) and providing all required documentation. You will then meet us for an initial appointment for us to determine reasonable accommodations.
Keep in mind that, although we accept academic accommodation requests on a rolling basis (there is no submission deadline), they may take up to 2–4 weeks to arrange. In order to promptly receive accommodations and services, make your request at time of registration.
CE students please note, modifications cannot be made to program or course curricula. If you need access to the the CE office (345 South Main Street) please contact an enrollment assistant at 401 454-6200 or email@example.com for further assistance.
Field placement accommodations and resources
We consider any requests that include on-site accommodations related to physical environment, devices/adaptive technology, time extensions or other approved adaptations related to program completion on a case-by-case basis, according to applicable policies, regulations and procedures.
The accommodations you receive for classroom learning, such as extended time on exams or use of a note-taker, may not transition effectively to a workplace in which those accommodations do not effectively reduce an access barrier and, by extension, support you in performing an essential function of your field experience.
If you need to discuss accommodations related to field placement, please contact us by phone or email, or set up an appointment to meet with DSS.
Generally speaking, accommodations may not alter the “fundamental nature” of your degree program. The pedagogical needs of a class, including field education courses, are typically the key criteria in deciding a proposed accommodation’s appropriateness. We may also consider how effectively the field placement’s worksite can meet your accommodation request.
Please schedule a meeting with our office, your field placement coordinator and the department head of your major department in order to discuss the essential functions of your field placement position, reasonable accommodations for your placement, and any related limitations.
It is your right to not disclose a disability. However, if you choose not to disclose, it may be more difficult for you to justify or document the need for accommodations at your field placement site. You can also choose how much you want to disclose—practicum sites do not need to know everything about you if you choose to disclose. You may choose to only disclose the challenges you may meet in that specific work setting.