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
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About our Services \ Info for Students \ Info for Faculty \ About our Office \ Sitemap spacer
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Info for Faculty
→ + Exams
Instructional Oversight
+ Essential Components of Courses and Curriculum
+ Universal Design Access
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INFORMATION FOR FACULTY: Instructional Oversight

All students are expected to complete all degree and course requirements satisfactorily, with or without accommodations. We don't expect all Faculty to be familiar with the range of effective accommodations in various course settings; and it is not valid to assume that similar functional limitations require the same accommodations: what is effective may differ from student-to-student, and course-to-course for the same student.

Because the AEO provides its registered students with Faculty Letters explaining each approved accommodation, you should expect to receive a letter from each student to start the conversation about implementation in your course. Any variance from approved accommodations should be discussed with AEO to avoid misunderstandings which can result in over- or under-accommodating.

The course head is responsible for all arrangements and assistance needed for the classroom, including all in-class tests, and administration of final examinations. This may include finding separate rooms for all students who require any extended time, and procuring and paying for a qualified scribe or similar service when authorized. Most AEO-related final exams will occur at a different time and in a separate location, but on the same day as the regularly scheduled exam. You will be notified about these alternate arrangements.

Teaching staff should consider the following strategies when contemplating accessibility:

  • Suggested wording to include in a syllabus is:
    Students needing academic adjustments or accommodations because of a documented disability must present their Faculty Letter from the Accessible Education Office (AEO) and speak with the professor by the end of the second week of the term, (fill in specific date). Failure to do so may result in the Course Head's inability to respond in a timely manner. All discussions will remain confidential, although Faculty are invited to contact AEO to discuss appropriate implementation.
  • Solicit AEO Faculty Letters at the first meeting of the course and in the syllabus. Students making accommodation requests without an AEO Faculty Letter should be referred to AEO. It is important that all communication with students regarding disability issues be individualized and confidential.
  • Ensure that lectures, sections, review sessions, etc. are held in physically and programmatically accessible space when required, e.g., wheelchair users can sit up front to access video presentations and lectures more clearly, lighting can be adjusted for visually impaired students, etc. Contact the FAS Classrooms Office at if a class needs to be relocated.
  • Call for volunteers from the class as soon as the need for note takers and scribes for in-class exercises becomes apparent, taking care not to disclose the student's name or disability. Sometimes members of the teaching staff assume the role of scribe for examinations.
  • Accommodate students who are visually impaired or blind by providing reformatted instructional and testing materials in their designated format (see Faculty Letter). Course materials not reformatted by Faculty must be delivered in advance to the Assistive Technology Center (ATC) for reformatting with enough lead time to be distributed to coincide with material distribution to all students in the class.
  • Honor adjustable lighting needs as recommended and appropriate.
  • Work with sign language interpreters and stenographic note-takers who may need to work near the podium to best serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Some students may use FM listening devices which require that teaching staff use a wireless microphone, and many of these students depend on open captioned films and videos which need to be procured well in advance.

When students make course changes after study card day and before the fifth Monday of the term, significant delays in the preparation of reformatted materials may result, affecting both students and instructional staff.

For questions concerning the administration of final exams (e.g., dropping off/picking up exams, location of AEO students, etc.), please contact the FAS Final Examinations Office at or 617-495-1542. For questions concerning appropriate accommodations, please contact or 617-496-8707.

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