Frequently Asked Questions

General Student Info

I have a chronic medical condition and have just registered with Disability Services.  Do you have any suggestions on self-identifying to my teachers?

Many students have found that an initial e-mail notification can provide a useful "door-opener" to a subsequent in-person disability discussion with each individual instructor.  Here is a sample outline:

Date: Fri 12 February 2010   11:24:50  -0400 (EDT)
From: **ODS student's name**
To: **names of all instructors for the term**
Cc: (Carolyn Corbran, Director of Disability Services)
Subject: Hello

Hello, my name   is __________________________ and I am in your class this term.  I am writing to inform you that I am registered with the Office of Disability Services and would like to come speak with you about my current situation and any accommodations that might be needed 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 my disability-related needs.  Please let me know of your availability to meet — and I have copied ODS Director Carolyn Corbran in case you have any questions.  Thank you very much.

email address
cell #

    What should I know about the Physical Education requirement?

    Q. Can a student with a disability take another class as a make-up?

    A. No. This is a general Physical Education policy for all students as class lists are set at the beginning of the term with no late or one-time admits permitted.

    Q. As a student with a chronic illness, may I "bank" a make-up in the event of a possible/future flare-up of my condition?

    A. In consultation with their instructors and on a case-by-case basis, students with disabilities may "bank" a class by participating in any of the make-up opportunities listed on the Physical Education website (e.g. volunteer at one of the two blood drives each semester.)

    Q. Do you have any suggestions for particular classes that are disability-friendly?

    A. Students with disabilities have found that certain courses are beneficial to their particular needs.

    For example, the Wellness class addresses issues pertaining to mind/body/spirit and includes only three classes with mild-moderate levels of physical activity.

    You should meet with the Chair of the Physical Education Department or the Director of Disability Services to discuss your specific situation.

    Q. If I have a chronic illness and am experiencing a flare-up during class, what should I do?

    A. This question falls under the overall attendance/lateness policy. If a student needs to sit out for a brief period (i.e. 5 min), she should speak to the professor and will likely be provided a time-out. However, if the period extends to 10-15 minutes or longer, the student will be referred to the Student Health Service for an immediate check-in. Once again, please be pro-active and discuss your needs in advance with your instructor if you anticipate a large number of flare-ups.

    Do you have any suggestions for LD high school students?

    Eleven suggestions regarding postsecondary options for high school students with learning disabilities:

    1. Understand the regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for disabled students in general, and for LD students in particular.
    2. Be able to explain your learning disability to others: your strengths and weaknesses, as well as successful strategies that you have used to compensate for your LD.
    3. Think about your non disability-related interests/considerations (e.g., career goals, choice of major, size and location of school) as well as your disability-related concerns when making decisions about schools.
    4. In selecting an appropriate "match" between student/school, determine "how much is enough" regarding your own need for support services:
      minimal support:            student adapts
      moderate support:         campus helps student adjust
      intensive support:          program is adapted to student
    5. Make an informed decision about the issue of self-identification, consulting with high school guidance counselors, college admissions and disability services staff, and LD students.
    6. Schedule on-campus admissions interviews, making additional appointments (well in advance) to speak with disability services staff members and current LD students.
    7. Obtain all regular publications about a desired school, as well as any materials specifically targeted to students with disabilities.
    8. Be clear on college policy regarding academic accommodations and LD: specific academic/course requirements and possible modifications; test accommodations; classroom concerns; etc.
    9. Obtain information about mainstream academic support services available to all students vs. specialized services available to LD students, noting funding sources.
    10. When using specialized college guides and other print resources, follow up with phone calls, in-person interviews, etc.
    11. Review a college's webpage for disability-related information: is it easy to find and accessible?

    Useful resource: Unlocking Potential: College and other choices for learning disabled people - a step-by-step guide. Barbara Scheiber and Jeanne Talpers. Adler and Adler Publishers, 1987.

    I am applying to graduate school and want some tips on how to determine if there will be disability-related support for me.  Any ideas?

    Disability and Graduate School Questions to Ask:

    • Would you describe your program/school as "disability-friendly?"
    • Have you worked with students with my disability in the past, and what are the common accommodations provided?
    • What are your requirements for disability documentation?
    • What is the procedure for requesting disability-related accommodations?
    • Can you provide me with the name and e-mail address of a current student with a similar disability?

    Although I do not have a diagnosed disability, I may be unable to hear the fire alarm in the residence halls for one or more of the following reasons: heavy sleeping, use of ear plugs, use of sleep medication.  What should I do?

    If you have any questions regarding Life Safety, please contact ODS directly to speak with a staff member.

    I am a Pre-College Student and need access to a microwave and a refrigerator due to food allergies. Any recommendations?

    You are welcome to bring shelf-stable foods to store in your room (and ResLife recommends that you store all food in air-tight containers).

    The Sulzberger lounges have access to microwaves for student use, but there are no refrigerators.  Students may arrange for small in-room refrigerator rental by contacting Collegiate Storage and Rental at 718-267-6484.  Feel free to call Colegiate and request that the fridge can be delivered directly to your room.


    I am currently/have been a student with a disability registered with ODS and would like to ask either a member of the ODS staff for a letter of recommendation. Does ODS have a policy or procedure for such a request?

    Yes — if you have worked directly for ODS in some capacity (e.g.  notetaker, office assistant, tutor, etc.) — we may be able to write a *letter of recommendation* as we have direct and specific info re: your performance in the workplace. Please feel free to call ODS If you have any questions about this policy.


    II. Campus & Facilities

    What is the best wheelchair-accessible route to get from the main Barnard gates at 117th street and Broadway to the Liz's Place Cafe?

    There are two routes you can take: The upper campus access route (weather permitting) and the tunnel route.

    1. Tunnel route (preferred access route):

    Enter the main Barnard gate and turn left at Barnard Hall, taking the south entrance which is ramped. Take either elevator to the basement/ground floor level and follow the tunnel route through Barnard Hall, Lehman, and into Diana LL1.  Take any of the two elevators to the lobby (1).

    2. Upper campus access route:

    Enter main Barnard gate and turn right. Follow brick sidewalk and then go onto the mid-campus path at the edge of the Lehman Lawn. Follow the mid-campus path to the Lehman sidewalk. The Diana Center is on the right.

    I will be visiting your campus and may have some mobility access concerns. What might you suggest?


    1. Rental of mobility aids:
      ODS has a walker and a manual wheelchair for loan @ no cost. A motorized scooter (very helpful for issues of mobility/energy/endurance) can be rented by the day ($100.), week ($150.) or month ($200.). We use Baker Surgical Supply, 722 Amsterdam Avenue at 95th Street (tel # 212/865-2284). The scooter can be delivered/picked-up directly to/from Barnard--and should be ordered at least one week in advance because it's a popular item at Baker!
    2. Access map of Barnard/Columbia
      Available in ODS--always useful so that a *no-step* access route can be planned in advance. As a part of our Access Barnard Commencement guide, we also have a listing of all of the wheelchair accessible restrooms on campus.

    Must I be registered with ODS to apply for disability-related housing?

    Yes. If you have not previously registered with ODS, you should do so when you apply for disability-related housing. All students requesting specialized housing consideration must fill out and follow the procedures outlined in the  Disability Housing Accommodation Request Form:  ODS often finds that when students come in to discuss their disability-related housing concerns that there may be other types of needs (especially for students with chronic illnesses) in which ODS registration might be helpful in the future.

    Is there a user-friendly ADA checklist for existing facilities that you would recommend?

    The 504/ADA Access Committee launched the Access Advocates program in April 2009 and during the summer of 2009 committee members completed the ADA checklist for each Barnard building and residence hall. 

    Developed in August 1995, the checklist is available from Barrier Free Environments, Inc. and the Institute for Human-Centered Design at


    III. Academic/Classroom

    What tips do you have for professors and others who are working with ASL (sign language) interpreters?

    See this handout.

    Handout provided by Janice B. Rimler, Janice B. Rimler, M.Ed. RID:CT, ASLTA:Professional Interpreter Representative, HANDS IN MOTION Professional Sign Language Interpreters.

    I need a peer tutor this semester. Do you have any suggestions?

    The Dean of Studies Office began assisting all students on campus with locating peer-to-peer tutoring beginning during the 2014-2015 academic year!  First, if you are looking for a tutor please request a tutor through the Dean of Studies at!  If the Dean of Studies is unable to help you find a tutor, please contact ODS so we can better advise you on alternative methods for seeking a tutor at

    I am a notetaker for Barnard ODS.  What is the difference between a Barnard and Columbia notetaker?

    There are a few differences between being a Barnard versus being a Columbia notetaker, the biggest one being that the Barnard Notetaking program pays $100 and students submit their notes online via our AIM system, while CU notetakers email their notes to CU ODS.     

    IV. Training, Awareness and Evaluation

    Have you developed any feedback/evaluation forms to be used with students with disabilities?

    Yes, we have developed two instruments:  one for first-year LD students (11 questions) and another for all graduating seniors with disabilities (9 questions).   The LD feedback form is titled:  "LD First-Year Summary Interview," and is conducted via one-to-one interview format with all LD first-Year students at the end of their first-year at Barnard.  All graduating seniors with disabilities are invited to participate in the Senior Exit Interview Protocol, also completed via a one-to-one personal interview.

      V. Beyond Barnard

      How can I make a telephone call to a person who is deaf?

      You should dial 711 which will connect you to a Teletypewriter (TTY) Relay Service, which all states have as a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some people who are deaf have a TTY which allows the user to type his/her telephone conversations to the other TTY user. However, if you do not have a TTY, a relay service will enable you to speak through an operator who will read you the responses from a TTY user and type and send your message to the TTY user. Just dial 711 and follow the prompts. There may be a short waiting time and some beeps.  Stay on the line and an operator will pick up.
      It is toll free to call 711 but you will be billed your standard rate for the call itself. 
      For more information on telephone services for people with disabilities please visit: