Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is an accommodation?

An accommodation is any change, alteration or modification to the way things are customarily done that provides an equal opportunity. Examples of accommodations include, but are not limited to, sign language interpreters, materials in alternative formats (such as braille, different font size or digital format), preferential seating, and assistive listening devices.

What is a Service Animal?

A Service Animal is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. For examples of these types of tasks please see Service and Assistance Animals. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

What questions am I allowed to ask to determine if a dog is a Service Animal?

Only two questions can be asked to determine if a dog is a Service Animal:

  • Is the dog a Service Animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

What is an Assistance Animal?

An Assistance Animal (also sometimes referred to as an emotional support animal, therapy animal or comfort animal), is defined by the Fair Housing Act as an animal that provides emotional support or comfort that alleviates one or more symptoms of a person’s disability and is necessary for an individual’s equal opportunity to use housing. Assistance Animals have not been individually trained and they may be an animal other than a dog. See more information at: Service and Assistance Animals.

Where can I find a map of accessible paths and entrances?

You can find this information for Harvard’s Cambridge, Allston and Longwood campuses on the Harvard Campus Map.

 

Students

How do I request an accommodation?

Contact your school’s Local Student Disability Coordinator (LDC) to initiate the process.

 

Information for requesting graduate student housing accommodations in Harvard Real Estate - Harvard University Housing can be found in the housing section of this website.

I received accommodations in my previous academic program. Will I get the same accommodations at Harvard?

Your previous accommodations may or may not be applicable your current course of study. Contact your Local Disability Coordinator (LDC) to explore possible reasonable accommodations.

I sprained my ankle and I’m on crutches for the next 6 weeks—what resources are available for me to get around campus?

Harvard’s shuttle buses are fully accessible and are available to everyone with a valid Harvard ID. If you would like to explore further services beyond the accessible shuttle, please see your Local Disability Coordinator (LDC).

 

I plan to live on campus and want to bring my emotional support cat with me. What do I do?

Assistance animals, sometimes also referred to as emotional support, comfort or therapy animals, are only permitted in Housing. Contact the Local Disability Coordinator (LDC) in the school in which you are enrolled to request a Housing accommodation or Harvard University Housing if in a Harvard Real Estate property.

I would like an accommodation to participate in extracurricular activities. How do I make a request?

Contact the Local Student Disability Coordinator (LDC) in the school in which you are enrolled to explore possible accommodations.

Faculty and Staff

How do I request an accommodation?

Contact your Human Resources Representative (Staff) or Faculty Affairs (Faculty) to initiate the request.

My mental health is negatively affecting my performance at work. Could accommodations be available to me?

The definition of a disability covers a wide range of conditions, including mental health. If your condition is affecting your work performance, contact your Human Resources Representative (Staff) or Faculty Affairs (Faculty) to explore possible accommodations.

 

I’m recovering from surgery and may need assistance getting to work for the next several weeks. What options are available?

All Faculty/staff are responsible for their transportation to and from their workplace. However, you are always welcome to contact your Human Resources Representative (Staff) or Faculty Affairs (Faculty) to discuss your specific situation and explore possible accommodations.

My medical leave of absence is ending soon and I might need job modifications when I return. How much notice do I need to give?

Contact your Human Resources Representative (staff) or Faculty Affairs (Faculty) to coordinate your return to work plan. If you wish to explore accommodations, it is best to initiate your request as soon as possible.

Visitors

I would like to request alternative format materials (ie.braille, large print, digital) for a Harvard event. How do I request?

Please contact the event sponsor of the event you are attending to initiate your request. If you are unsure of whom to contact, feel free to reach out to our office (disabilityservices@harvard.edu) and we will do our best to put you in touch with the event sponsor.

I will be visiting Harvard and one of my family members would like to borrow a wheelchair. What are the options?

There are several resources available at Harvard depending on which part of campus you are visiting:

  • Visitor wheelchairs available on a first come-first served basis for attendees at the Harvard Art Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Harvard Admissions office.
  • Harvard University Disability Services also has a limited supply of wheelchairs available for loan to the Harvard community. To request, please complete this form.
  • Additional resources for long term wheelchair rental or other equipment rental can be found on our website under Vendors and Service Providers.

 

How much advance notice is needed to request a Sign Language Interpreter?

The University will make every effort to offer effective communication accommodations. Services for Interpreting and CART are subject to availability. As service providers are in great demand in the Boston metropolitan area and often fill their schedules quickly, it is recommended to make requests at least two weeks in advance, if possible.

What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to ensuring digital content is viewable and usable by people with disabilities. This might include features such as screen readers that read aloud a website for a user with visual impairments, closed-captioning on videos for individuals with hearing impairments, images that include "alt text" for individuals with visual impairments, and websites that are navigable by keyboard for users who may not be able to operate a mouse.

Increasing accessibility can also improve the usability of your content for everyone. Following best practices can improve overall user experience, help non-native English speakers, and increase search engine optimization. Additionally, when designers and contributors consider accessibility from the start, it can be significantly faster and cheaper than waiting to address problems after users encounter accessibility barriers.

How can I learn more about Digital Accessibility?

Visit Harvard University Information Technology’s (HUIT) website on Online Accessibility to learn more, such as how to create accessible documents.

If you have a Harvard Key, you can access HUIT’s Online Accessibility Webinars. The 17 webinars cover topics including "Designing Accessible UX" and "Accessible Multimedia.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technologies, sometimes referred to as adaptive technologies or rehabilitative devices, promote greater independence for individuals with disabilities by changing how these individuals interact with technology.  For example, speech recognition software allows users with hand mobility issues to interact with a computer using voice commands rather than manipulating a mouse and keyboard. Other assistive technologies include alternative input devices, screen magnifiers and screen reading software.

I'm purchasing a digital product. How can I ensure digital access is taken into account when contracting with outside vendor?

Web products or services procured by Harvard must meet an acceptable level of accessibility; see the Procurement Process section of the Online Accessibility website.