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Student Disability Services


What constitutes a disability? 

As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities. Some major life activities referred to under the definition of disability in the ADA include: walking, sitting, seeing, hearing, standing, breathing, reaching, learning, speaking, concentrating, sleeping, performing manual tasks, working, lifting, caring for oneself, and interacting with others. Substantially limits indicates either an inability to perform the major life activity or a significant restriction “as to the condition, manner, or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform the same major life activity.”

Why do students with disabilities receive accommodations? Is it fair? 

Students with disabilities are as qualified as students without disabilities to attend UNI. Reasonable accommodations are legally mandated and are intended to provide students with resources to "level the playing field." Accommodations give students with disabilities an opportunity to participate in all University academic programs and activities plus be evaluated on their academic ability, not their disability.

What kinds of accommodations are available through SDS?

Classroom Accommodations: 

  • Tape recording lectures

  • Notetakers

  • Preferential seating

  • Interpreting services

  • Books in alternate format

Exam Accommodations:

  • Extended time

  • Separate Location

  • ReaderScribe

  • Calculator

  • Computer for essay exams

Do students with disabilities receive course waivers?

No. The University of Northern Iowa does not grant course waivers. Course substitutions are sometimes possible for foreign language or math requirements.

Does Student Disability Services provide tutoring services?

No. Students registered with Student Disability Services are referred for tutoring services through the Academic Learning Center. Additionally, there are other tutoring programs, labs for math and writing, and other campus resources that can be found through Tutoring Services.

What if I do not feel the accommodations I receive are appropriate?

If you feel that the accommodations you are receiving are unacceptable, you have the option to appeal the decision through the Appeals Process

I think I might have a disability.  Where can I go to get tested?

Student Disability Services does not provide testing.  However, the UNI Psychological Assessment Clinic is a not-for-profit training facility that provides diagnostic services to the University and surrounding community. The clinic conducts psychological and educational evaluations. Most commonly, individuals are assessed at the clinic for: evaluation of learning disabilities, evaluation of problems related to the ability to sustain attention and concentration, and/or educational planning.

SDS has also compiled a list of area professional evaluators that can also assist in determining a disability.  Please visit Resources for Evaluation for more information.

If I have a temporary condition, can Student Disability Services help me?Yes. Individuals who have a short term condition that substantially limits their ability to perform one or more major life activities related to the academic environment may be eligible for temporary accommodations through Student Disability Services. If you believe you have a short term condition that is substantially limiting, complete the Verification of Temporary Disability form and contact Student Disability Services to schedule a consultation appointment.  For more information, please visit: