Accessible Education Office (click to go to home page)

1350 Massachusetts Avenue
The Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center, Fourth Floor
Cambridge MA 02138
tel: 617-496-8707 - fax: 617-496-1098 - tty: 617-496-3720

Serving Harvard College and GSAS Students
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
About our Services \ Info for Students \ Info for Faculty \ About our Office \ Sitemap spacer
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
Info for Faculty
+ Exams
+ Instructional Oversight
+ Essential Components of Courses and Curriculum
+ Universal Design Access
spacer spacer


Students registered with the Accessible Education Office (AEO) may receive accommodations which alter some exam procedures. Accommodations are determined by AEO and are intended to address documented disabilities in such a way as to make exam administration fair and equitable for all students taking the same course.

Students are responsible for providing Faculty Letters written by AEO to a designated course representative at the beginning of the term. Letters inform course personnel of approved accommodations.

The administration of all timed exercises, including midterms, is the responsibility of the Course Head. All final examinations for students with AEO-approved exam accommodations are administered during the final exam period by the Exams Office and the appropriate accommodations will be made in conjunction with AEO. The Course Head is urged to contact AEO if there are any questions about this process.

Below please find a general description of accommodations most frequently used by AEO students:

Extended Time: Some students have been approved for extended time to take their exams, sometimes in combination with other accommodations. Examples of the most common time extensions are an additional 25% or 50%. The specific amount of extended time will vary from student to student and is indicated in each Faculty Letter. To ensure proper test taking conditions the Course Head will need to find a seperate location which is quiet and non-disruptive for the entire time.

Environment: Usually refers to the room in which the exam is administered, it frequently connotes wheelchair accessibility with nearby accessible bathroom, in a building with an accessible path of travel, including an elevator if access to classrooms above or below ground floor is required. The room may require a writing surface for writing or typing (if approved) because the use of an attached desk-chair is usually not possible. It also refers to a student taking exams in a room alone. The Classrooms Office can assist you with securing a room and needs only to know the logistical information (i.e., date, time, number of students, any particular accessibility needs such as wheelchair access, etc.) to accomplish this. You can reach the Classrooms Office at

Breaks Breaks are intended for the student to rest for a few minutes and are not interchangeable with extra writing time, although in some cases both will be approved. The specific amount of break time that the student is permitted will be indicated on his/her faculty letter. Break time cannot be deducted from the usual or approved total exam time. Students for whom exam and break times are quite long may be entitled to have a 30-minute meal break in the exam room. When this is the case, the student will provide his/her own refreshments.

Technology: Students for whom use of a laptop has been approved by AEO will use a laptop with appropriate software which is provided by the Assistive Technology Center (ATC) located on the ground floor in the Science Center. The Course representative will pick-up the specific laptop in the ATC before the scheduled start of the exam and return it to the same location at the end of the exam administration. Every effort will be made to schedule final exams in the Science Center for these exams to facilitate troubleshooting should there be technical difficulties. ATC personnel may be reached at 617-496-8800 and

Assistance: Some students require a reader or a scribe to read the exam aloud and/or provide written answers to the exam questions, including essays when an exam is not otherwise accessible to them. Readers are expected to understand the exam material and terminology well enough to pronounce the words properly and say only those words which appear on the exam without elaboration. Scribes must be able to understand the student's speech patterns; and will write or type only what the student dictates, even if s/he knows that the dictated information is incorrect. Examples of qualified readers and scribes may include persons who have taken the course previously, preferably graduate students. Some deaf/hard-of-hearing students require sign language interpreters.

Some students need the services of a personal care attendant and hire them to offer assistance with bathroom breaks. Persons administering exams are not to serve in that role. The students for whom this is required will bring and introduce the PCA to the course representative at the beginning of the exam.

spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer