Disability Services at UMass Amherst

Accommodations and Services For Students

Disability Services provides a wide variety of services to students with disabilities. Our office promotes the empowerment of people with disabilities and their full integration into campus life and the community.


An accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility that enables a qualified student or employee with a disability to participate equally in a program, service, activity, or employment at the University. A “reasonable” accommodation refers to an accommodation that is appropriate as well as effective and efficient, and is agreed upon by the University and the consumer with a disability.

Joanne Provost

Joanne Provost
Information Specialist

Many accommodations are available at the University to ensure that students with disabilities participate fully in academic and student life. They provide a student with a disability equal access to the educational and co-curricular process, without compromising essential components of the curriculum. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis, based on the student’s documentation.

For accommodations to be timely, they must be arranged well in advance. Students are responsible for contacting Disability Services at the beginning of each semester so that reasonable accommodations can be made in a timely manner (first two weeks of classes, or first week of summer or winter session).

Common Accommodations For Students

The accommodations most frequently provided include, but are not limited to:

Additional time to complete assignments
Alternate Formats for Printed Course Materials
Alternate Types of Exams
Assistive Technology
Captioning Services
Classroom Access Assistants
Classroom Reassignment
Document Conversion
Extended Time on Exams
Extension of Statute of Limitations
Exam Proctoring
Facility Modifications
Lab Assistants
Learning Specialists
Modification of Graduation Requirements
Note-Taking Services
Paratransit Services
Prepared Materials Before Class
Reduced Course Load
Sign Language Interpreters and Oral Transliterators
Tape Recorders

Melissa Lumbis

Melissa Lumbis
Information Access Specialist

Alternate Formats for Printed Course Materials are available for eligible students. A variety of formats are provided including large print, audio tape, electronic computer text, and Braille. Careful consideration is given to the needs of each student and to the quality and quantity of each printed document to determine the most effective modality. Students who require alternate formats must document their reading disability, review their request with their Consumer Manager, and meet with the Coordinator of Information Access Services. Acquiring alternate formats requires a significant amount of time. In order to receive alternate formats as early as possible, students are encouraged to submit requests immediately after registering for the upcoming semester.

Document Converter Tool (RoboBraille/ SensusAccess) For the 2013-2014 academic year, Five Colleges, Inc. contracted for a one year pilot program with SensusAccess/RoboBraille. The pilot program includes an online document converter tool that generates alternate formats for uploaded files at no cost to users. Individuals with a umass.edu email address may try the automated converter tool which can be found at Document Converter Tool (RoboBraille/ SensusAccess)

Additional sources for obtaining course materials in alternate formats are available for eligible students. Students are encouraged to become individual members of Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic and The Braille and Talking Book Library at the Perkins School for the Blind. Applications for these organizations are available in the Disability Services Office. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of assistive technology, such as the Kurzweil 1000 and Kurzweil 3000, scanning and reading programs. Both applications are available in various computer classrooms on campus as well as the Assistive Technologies Center located in the W.E.B. DuBois Library. Assistive Technology refers to any computer equipment or software program that provides access for people with disabilities.

The Assistive Technologies Center (ATC) offers technology services to any member of the University community with an ADA-defined disability. To use ATC services, you must register with Disability Services and hold an active OIT Account.

Captioning Services are receptive communication access whereby deaf or hard-of hearing consumers read a real-time transcription of all verbalized information being presented. Examples include Voice Captioning, Captioning, C-Print and CARTT. Access can be obtained by means of an individual laptop or small screen if there are two or more consumers in an event. Most users tend to be late-deafened, cannot benefit from amplification devices, do not know ASL, do not have good speech-reading skills but have excellent expressive English skills and often speak for themselves. The goal of CARTT is 100% verbatim (word-for-word) of the spoken message. Captioning is word for phrase-by-phrase, as you see in television captioning. "Message" equivalency is the goal for C-Print but more experienced C-Print captioners are capable of 100% verbatim transcription

Classroom Access Assistants are available to address physical barriers for students with mobility and visual disabilities. They assist with laboratory exercises, note-taking, library research, multi-media presentations and other related classroom activities. Students needing such assistance must alert their consumer manager to request this accommodation. To insure receipt of this accommodation at the start of the semester, it is best to submit requests immediately following registration for the upcoming semester.

Classroom Reassignment When a student or faculty member’s course is assigned to a room that is inaccessible, Disability Services will work with the Registrar’s Office to find a new accessible location for the class.

Document Conversion is available for eligible students. Students in need of this accommodation work with the DC Coordinator to obtain books on CD or MP3 format through various venues. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of current assistive technology on their own computers or in the Assistive Technologies Center located in the W.E.B. DuBois Library. Students must request document conversion services well in advance of when they are needed.

Document Converter Tool (RoboBraille/ SensusAccess) For the 2013-2014 academic year, Five Colleges, Inc. contracted for a one year pilot program with SensusAccess/RoboBraille. The pilot program includes an online document converter tool that generates alternate formats for uploaded files at no cost to users. Individuals with a umass.edu email address may try the automated converter tool which can be found at Document Converter Tool (RoboBraille/ SensusAccess)

Disability Services Exam Proctoring Procedure
Student's eligibility for exam accommodations are recorded on Clockwork for view by the faculty member.

Student and instructor meet to determine the best way to accommodate exam needs.

If the instructor is unable to provide the accommodations for the student, the instructor and student may arrange exam accommodations through the Disability Services Exam Proctoring Center.

At least seven days prior to each exam date, the student is responsible for submitting a completed Exam Booking Request Form https://clockwork.oit.umass.edu/clockwork/custom/misc/home.aspx through Clockwork to request to schedule an exam through the Proctoring Center. The request is received by the Exam Proctoring Coordinator and accepted or declined. The instructor and student are notified of the status via Clockwork generated email.
Instructors simply log in and upload the exam with any specific instructions, via Clockwork https://clockwork.oit.umass.edu/clockwork/user/instructor/default.aspx. Exams may also be hand delivered to 169A Whitmore or faxed to 413-577-0122, regardless confirmation must occur on Clockwork and exams must be received by the noon the day prior to the exam. Exams cannot be sent via campus mail.
Student takes the exam at the designated date/time and location (typically at the same time as the class or an overlapping time period due to extra time).
Exam is picked up at Disability Services by instructor or designee or is returned to instructor's department office by Friday afternoon via courier.

For more details see the Exam Accommodation Procedure Flowchart.

Facility Modifications When facilities are inaccessible and reassignment is not a reasonable option, Disability Services will convene a meeting with members of Facility Management, A&F, and other necessary parties to discuss and plan for the modifications needed to a specific facility. All members of the university are responsible for bringing facility modification needs to the attention of Disability Services.

Lab Assistants When a student with a disability that affects their mobility or use of their arms/hands has a need for assistance in a lab, Disability Services will hire a lab assistant to accompany the student in class. The lab assistant will, at the direction of the student with the disability, lift, pour, measure, retrieve, etc. essential materials in a lab. Lab Assistants are required to take a lab safety seminar for the safety of all parties.

Learning Specialists are graduate students trained to make available the most up-to-date learning skills, tools and tactics available and to provide individualized instruction for students with information processing disabilities. Learning Specialists use specific teaching modalities that incorporate the needs of students with disabilities and take into consideration the specific strengths and weaknesses of diverse learners.

Note-Taking Services are available. Supplemental notes are provided to students who are eligible for this service. Once a student meets with their Consumer Manager (or utilizes the Express Process) to determine which classes may need supplemental notes, the faculty member is informed of their accommodation electronically. If notes are not provided by the Instructor, the student can request notes by logging on to Clockwork to inform DS of their need for notes in a specific course. DS will provide eligible students a login and password to access notes. Notes are provided free online for download from Luvolearn.com. Student note takers may market their notes online for sale to other classmates who would like notes but do not have an ADA accommodation. For more details see the Disability Services Note-Taking Procedure Flowchart. Also see LuvoLearn.com

PVTA Paratransit Services provides a shared-ride, door-to-door van transportation for individuals with disabilities that prevent them from riding the fixed route bus service. PVTA is dedicated to providing accessible public transportation to passengers in the Pioneer Valley. For more details, please read the Paratransit Quick Reference Guide in English (or in Spanish) or contact PVTA's ADA Department at 1-800-752-1638. TTY: (413) 594-2349.

UMass Transit Special Transportation Services or "SpecTrans" provides free transportation service around the Amherst campus to students, staff and faculty with a disability. People who need service on a long-term basis must register with Disability Services first. Temporary passengers can register directly with SpecTrans by calling (413) 545-2086.

Sign Language Interpreters and Oral Transliterators are available. These communication access services are only effective if the consumer is experienced in the methodology provided. For example, someone who does not know ASL (American Sign Language) will not benefit from an ASL interpreter as will someone who is a native ASL user not benefiting from the communication style practiced by Oral Transliterators. Either methodology can be successfully utilized by a consumer with early-onset hearing loss.

A sign language interpreter listens to a spoken language and interprets the message into a visual language - American Sign Language. Sign language interpreters are certified by the Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf (RID), a national organization which tests practitioners for qualifications, maintains records of professional development and continuing education and monitors practices in the profession. The ASL Deaf consumer must be fluently receptive and understand American Sign Language in order to receive the spoken message as interpreted into ASL.

Oral Transliterators take the message and make it visible on the lips and with supporting body movement or gestures, convey the speaker's message. It is essential that the deaf consumer be able to speech read, understand subtle nuances of facial expression and body movement/placement to fully comprehend the spoken message.

Late deafened consumers tend not be skilled in either ASL or OT methodologies – preferring instead to use captioning services. However, this is not to say that a late-deafened deaf individual cannot learn to speech read or to learn ASL.