MIT Student Disabilities Services, as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, makes every reasonable effort to provide appropriate accommodations and assistance to students with disabilities. The objective is to ensure that our students receive equal access to all Institute programs and services. To that end, we seek to balance the student's right to access with our obligation to protect the integrity of Institute programs and services.
Policy on Providing Services
Accommodation decisions are the product of an interactive process which involves students, SDS staff, academic advisors, faculty members and, where necessary, outside experts. The past academic history of the student is also considered. Students who provide incomplete documentation are provided guidance, and where possible referrals for additional testing and/or evaluations are made. Accommodation requests that are judged to have a negative impact on the academic integrity of the educational program (e.g. those that would fundamentally alter the program of study) will not be honored. The final determination for providing appropriate and reasonable accommodations rests with the Institute. The SDS ensures that the ultimate decision conforms with well established practices in the field and pertinent legal precedents.
Definitions for Disabled
MIT is required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide effective auxiliary aids and services for qualified students with documented disabilities if such aids are needed to provide equitable access to MIT's programs and services. Federal law defines a disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." Major life activities are defined as the ability to perform functions such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself. The degree of impairment must be significant enough to "substantially limit"; one or more major life activities. Therefore, medical documentation must be provided by a qualified professional. This documentation, in addition to establishing the existence of an impairment, must also address the substantial limitation posed by the impairment. Besides impairments pertaining to vision, hearing, physical well-being, and perception, individuals with disabilities may also include those with emotional or mental illness; illness such as cancer, heart disease or AIDS; learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dysgraphia; and physical impairments. These and other types of disabilities do not necessarily impair the individual's performance but may require the individual to seek alternative methods of carrying out a given task.
This guide is a description of the policies and procedures which the Student Disabilities Services follows to assist individuals with disabilities at MIT in doing just that. It is important to note that an impairment in and of itself does not necessarily constitute a disability. Also, a diagnosis, in and of itself does not necessarily constitute a disability. Further, the fact that accommodations have been received in the past, does not automatically mean that accommodations will be provided at MIT.