Frequently Asked Questions

About Disability Services

What does Barnard’s Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS) do?

Barnard’s Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services helps students with disabilities so that they have equal access and opportunities to succeed during their time here.

How do I get started with registering with CARDS?

The first step in registering with our office is to fill out a short application found here. More information about the process can be found on our website.

What is a disability?

An individual with a disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) as ‘’a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.’’

How do I know if my condition is considered to be a disability?

Barnard’s Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services serves students with both visible and invisible disabilities. Some examples of eligible disabilities include, but are not limited to, vision/hearing impairments, mobility impairments, chronic illnesses, learning disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. For more information about your specific situation and whether it rises to the level of being considered a qualified disability, you can also call the office or stop by.

I broke my wrist last week and have a temporary disability. Can CARDS help?

Yes. Our office can help implement temporary accommodations to assist you during this time. Please be sure to submit documentation from your medical provider as part of your request.

Do I need to provide medical documentation to be approved for accommodations?

The type of documentation we request from you will depend on your disability. Most students will need to provide documentation from a treating provider that follows our recommended guidelines.

Is the documentation for a learning disability different?

Students with a learning disability should submit formal testing that follows our criteria. Students can also submit their Individualized Education Program (IEP), 504 Plan, Summary of Performance (SOP), or a psychoeducational evaluation, if they have received services in high school.

What laws protect a student with disabilities at the college level?

Students at the college level are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Will CARDS staff speak with my parents and/or answer their questions if they contact the office?

Confidentiality and trust are very important to our office. Although we can answer general policy questions, CARDS staff members will only speak to your parents regarding your situation with your given permission.

Do you have a process for me to provide feedback to your staff?

We offer listening sessions each week for students to voice concerns and provide feedback for our office. Students can sign up to attend a listening session here.


What is an accommodation?

According to the US Department of Education, an accommodation is a modification or adjustment to enable students with disabilities to participate equally within an educational program.

What accommodations does Barnard offer for students with disabilities?

Barnard offers a wide range of accommodations based on the needs of each student. Accommodations such as alternative testing, in-class accommodations, note-taking, academic coaching, disability-related housing accommodations, emotional support animals, and assisting with reduced course loads may be provided to registered students.

What is Barnard’s policy on service and support animals?

Our policy on service and support animals can be found here. Please note that if you currently have been approved for an Emotional Support Animal, you will need to reapply each year and provide updated supporting documentation and veterinary records.

I’m a current student with a disability at Barnard. Do I have to reapply each semester for accommodations?

Students do not have to reapply for academic accommodation; however, we ask that every registered student checks in with us every semester to discuss their accommodation plan. Housing requests must be submitted with updated documentation each year.

I will be a first-year student at Barnard this fall. What do I need to do now in order for my disability to be considered for housing and other accommodations I’ll need to start the school year?

The first step is to begin the registration process with our office. We can help walk you through the process to assure that you have the opportunity to gain access to any and all accommodations that would help reduce whatever barriers you experience due to disability.


What specific types of academic accommodations are provided for various types of disabilities?

Academic accommodations are tailored to the individual student and the barriers that they experience within the learning environment. However, some examples of academic accommodations that may be provided include: extra time for exams, untimed breaks during testing, a distraction reduced testing environment, use of assistive technologies, advance notice on assignment criteria, occasional extensions, use of a laptop for note-taking in class, note takers, and additional absences.

Will my professors know about my accommodations? Is my specific information shared with them?

Specific disability information, including diagnosis, is kept confidential to our office, except in rare instances where an individual needs to know this information in order to provide an accommodation. In most instances, professors for your requested courses will only be made aware that you are registered with our office and of the specific accommodations you have requested for their course.

Can you give me suggestions on self-identifying with each professor?

Students need only to identify that they are registered with CARDS and that they receive accommodations through our office. This can be done briefly before or after class for most accommodations. For certain accommodations, more in depth conversations with the Professor are needed to work out logistics, such as getting prior access to PowerPoint presentations.

Many students in the past have found an email to be a useful way to open communication with a professor. Below is a sample email.

“Hello, my name is __________________________ and I am in your class this term. I am writing to inform you that I am registered with the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services and would like to come speak with you about my accommodation plan for this semester. I would like to arrange a time to meet with you briefly (we can schedule an appointment, or I can come by during office hours) to discuss the logistics of my accommodation plan. Please let me know of your availability to meet — and I have copied Barnard's Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services in case you have any questions. Thank you very much.”

However, we know that sometimes students may need our assistance in figuring out the logistics of an accommodation. Please feel free to fill out our Accommodation follow-up request form and we will reach out to you to discuss. At your request, we will follow up with a professor on your behalf.

Is tutoring an accommodation provided for students with disabilities?

Tutoring is not an accommodation provided by the office. However, we do provide academic coaching. Tutors can be requested through the Dean of Studies office.

How can I get a notetaker?

All accommodations, including notetakers, are determined after meeting with our office and having a discussion to establish what is best for each student. If you are approved for a notetaking accommodation, you can simply request a notetaker for any classes for which you think you’ll need one.

As a student with a disability, can I take less than 12 credit hours in a semester?

Yes. Students registered with CARDS and that have supporting documentations may apply to take a reduced course load. More information can be found here.

Can I waive the physical education requirement?

In some instances, yes, but approval is needed.

Does Barnard give unlimited time on exams?

Exam times are determined by professors, but we do not give unlimited time on exams. However, accommodations that give extra time or untimed breaks are used to determine the length given to students.

I have learning, hearing or other disabilities that impact the ability to acquire a foreign language. Does Barnard waive the foreign language requirement?

In some instances, yes, but approval is needed.

I am currently a student with a disability registered with CARDS applying to another institution for graduate school and/or am planning to take a standardized test. I would like a letter that details my eligibility for CARDS accommodations from a member of the CARDS staff. Do you have a policy or procedure for such a request?

We would be happy to provide this for you. Please contact with more information regarding your request.