disability accommodations

updated September 1, 2022

  1. From Dean Abby (08.24.22)
  2. From the Disability Justice Caucus
    1. How to Register 
    2. What accommodations are available to me?
    3. Good Faculty/Staff to Reach out to
    4. General Union Accessibility re buildings 
    5. General NYC Accessibility re public transit
    6. Medical / Testing Resources 

From Dean Abby (08.24.22)

Good afternoon Union students,

Whether you are returning for another year or joining us for the first time – welcome! I’m writing with updates to the existing process for requesting disability accommodations at Union. Even if you do not currently require accommodations, please read carefully. 

Faculty – I’ve included you in this email so that you’re also aware of the adjustment in how you’ll be notified about students with approved accommodations from the Office of Student Affairs.

UPDATED: Process for requesting academic accommodations

First time requesting accommodations, start here:

  1. Submit a request for disability services: https://utsnyc.formstack.com/forms/disability_certification_instruction
    • If you are not yet under the care of a provider and/or need provisional accommodations until you can secure documentation, go directly to step 2. 
  2. Make an appointment to discuss your needs with Dean Abby: https://go.oncehub.com/asstdeanasgaralli

Already have accommodations approved through the Office of Student Affairs, start here:

  1. Submit a request to inform your faculty members of your approved accommodations: https://utsnyc.formstack.com/forms/request_for_accommodations
  1. Once submitted, I’ll send you a letter to preview which lists all of your documented accommodations on file from your medical provider. Once you approve the letter, I’ll email it to the faculty you requested on the form above.
  2. This is a change to the previous process where students were required to request accommodations in each class, each semester. Moving forward, you only need to give permission in the form above for your approved accommodations to be shared with your faculty members each semester. We hope this adjustment alleviates the burden of paperwork!

All students must complete steps 1-3 above, although students might start at different steps in the process depending on need. Students are highly encouraged to connect with their faculty members directly regarding their academic accommodations, especially after the letter has been sent. Please prioritize this task as accommodations are not retroactive – they become active on the date approved by the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs in a written letter, following the receipt of documentation and meeting as noted above.

Notetaking at Union

Each semester, the Office of Student Affairs hires notetakers in specific courses to support student learning. The pay is a flat rate of $125 for the semester, for each course that you are a notetaker. General expectations for notetakers are that notes are organized by date, be complete and accurate, and include details or summaries of the information shared in class. 

If you’d like to volunteer to be a notetaker for Fall 2022, please email: studentaffairs@uts.columbia.edu and list any courses you’re available to be a notetaker in. If a student requests a notetaker in that course, we’ll contact you. 

Please reach out with any questions you might have. Looking forward to a great year ahead.


From the Disability Justice Caucus

How to Register 

Register for Disability Services at Union

Guidelines for Medical Documentation (taken from Disability Services)

  • The clinician must be qualified to make a diagnosis in the area of specialization (and cannot be a member of the student’s family).
  • The evaluation should be written on professional letterhead, be current (usually within 6 months, but no more than one year) and it should contain the date of the last appointment with the student.
  • The clinician must clearly indicate the disability claimed to be covered under the ADA.
  • The documentation must clearly support the claimed disability with relevant medical and other history.
  • The evaluation must include a description of current treatments and assistive devices and technologies (if any), with estimated effectiveness in ameliorating the impact of the disability.
  • There must be a description of the functional limitations the student experiences as a result of the disability, which specifically addresses a post-secondary residential and educational setting.
  • The documentation must clearly support the need for the requested accommodation(s).

The Dean of Students (Abigail Asgaralli)  will review the documentation upon receipt and may consult with the student’s clinician (if clarification is needed) upon receiving written consent from the student (the consent form is included in the disability service request form). The Dean of Students will then meet with the student to determine what accommodations will be reasonable and/or appropriate. The Dean of students may also consult the student’s professors regarding particular course requirements. A professor does not have a legal right to demand access to the student’s actual documentation, including testing scores, dates, or names of professionals providing such documentation. The United States Department of Justice has indicated that a professor, generally, does not have a need to know what the disability is, only that it has been appropriately verified by the The Dean of Students.

What accommodations are available to me?

While accommodations are determined on an individual basis, what are common accommodations (thinking for those who may not have had them in the past, unsure of what they can ask for)

Rutgers List of Common Accommodations

Good Faculty/Staff to Reach out to

Dr. Amy Meverden in the Writing Center – provides academic support. Her Graduate Writing Class is a great resource and she is also available for regular (weekly) writing center mtngs to build structure and/or discuss weekly assignments.

General Union Accessibility re buildings 

Rough Map of Where Elevators Are + Where Stairs Are

Elevator Access on Columbia’s campus: need to email 

General NYC Accessibility re public transit

MTA Accessibility

  • buses tend to be more accessible than the subway
  • accessible subway stations: 96th and Broadway is the closest accessible station to Union for the 1,2, and 3 lines

Medical / Testing Resources 

Navigating Student Health at Columbia 

  • If you do not have Columbia health insurance you still pay a fee to access general Columbia services which includes Counseling and Psychological Services!
  • First appointments seem to take 6+ weeks but after that there is some availability for regular psych services including psychiatry  and groups. Personal experience attesting to quality services as compared to other “free” NYC options. 

Navigating Student Health Insurance Plan re Columbia

Neuropsychs in NYC for ADHD/other neurodivergence testing

Neuropsychological testing is a multi-faceted evaluation that can demonstrate disability impacts when compared to “standard” functioning. Recommendations from this kind of testing are an accepted standard as documentation of disability. Unfortunately, it is expensive and must be paid out of pocket. However, the information that you gain from it is invaluable for documentation and for understanding how a disability is directly impacting you. Most evaluator information comes from the CUNY and the original list is found here. An evaluator known to a member of the Union community will be in blue.

  • Under rare circumstances, Columbia health will also provide this testing. All students can access Columbia Counseling and Psych Services (we pay a fee for it regardless of our insurance)

Dean Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services @ Teachers College

ADDRESS: 525 West 120th Street NY, NY 10027

PHONE: 212/678-3262 (Fax 212/678-8105)

COST: $200 – 1,000 Sliding scale (based on fee adjustment form) & student

rates apply. Proof of income required.

LANGUAGE: English, Spanish

APPOINTMENT: Takes 2-3 weeks. Best time to contact is the beginning of the semester. Summer appointments not available

EVALUATION REPORT: 2 weeks but varies with every student

City College – City of NY Psychological Center 

ADDRESS: North Academic Building, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031

WEBSITE: https://www.thepsychologicalcenter.org/

PHONE: 212/650-6602

COST: $300-$1,000 – Proof of income required

Payment plans as low as $5 per month

Language: English, Spanish

Appointment: Can take 2-4 months for first appointment 

Intakes are scheduled for 12pm on Wednesdays

Evaluation Report: 8 weeks

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