Reasonable Accommodations

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Southern Virginia honors requests for reasonable accommodations made by students with disabilities. Students must self-disclose their documented disability to the Office of Accessibility Services, which coordinates accommodations between students and professors. Professors are not advised of the nature or details of the disability unless the students themselves choose to discuss it with them. Students should take care of the necessary documentation and paperwork with the Office of Accessibility Services early in the semester. Accommodations for disabilities are not made until the professor is provided with proper documentation and will not be implemented retroactively for assignments due previous to the receipt of documentation.

Steps to Receive Academic & Housing Accommodations

Accommodations can be requested at any point in the semester, however, please note that it can take up to two weeks to process and approve accommodations.

  1. Complete the  Accommodation Request Form
    The first step in receiving accommodations is to complete the Accommodation Request Form (ARF). Students must have a Student ID number in order to complete this form.  Please contact your admissions counselor or if you have not received your number.
  2. Submit documentation
    Documentation for accommodations is used to verify eligibility and requests for reasonable accommodations or assistive technology. Appropriate documentation will contribute to our understanding of the disability and the impact it has on the student in the college environment. See full guidelines below. Documentation can be uploaded with the ARF, or it can be emailed to our office at
  3. Intake Meeting
    After the application and documentation are received, a member of the Office of Accessibility Services will reach out to the student to schedule an intake meeting. At this meeting, they will discuss which accommodations will create equal access by removing barriers that are a result of a disability.
  4. Receipt of Accommodation Meeting
    If additional information is needed following the intake meeting, the office of accessibility services will send a request to the student’s University email. Following a final review, we will schedule a Receipt of Accommodation (ROA) meeting with the student to review the accommodation decision and discuss next steps.
  5. Meeting with Professors
    Once an Accommodation Letter has been issued, the student must meet with the professors to discuss which accommodations they would like to use in each of their individual classes. Accommodations are in place as soon as the student (1.) provides their instructors with a copy of their letter and (2.) discusses how their accommodations can be implemented in their course. Please note, academic accommodations are not retroactive—accommodations only apply to coursework due after the student meets with their professors and discusses their accommodations letter with them.

Accommodation Guidelines

Accommodations are adjustments to the standard methods used to access educational opportunities at Southern Virginia University. For example, students may be eligible for extra time on an exam, or the use of a basic four-function calculator.

Individual accommodations are determined through a series of questions. The answer to each question must be “yes,” or the accommodation is not appropriate.

  1. Does the student have a disability as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?
  2. Has the student provided appropriate documentation?
  3. Is the student “otherwise qualified” to participate in the program or course?
  4. With the requested accommodations, can the student perform the essential tasks of the course?
  5. Is the requested accommodation reasonable?

An accommodation is reasonable if it is based on documented individual needs; allows the most integrated experience possible; does not compromise the essential requirements of a course or program; does not pose a threat to personal or public safety; does not impose undue financial or administrative burden; and is not of a personal nature involving self-care or activities of daily living.

Determination of reasonable accommodations is made individually on a case-by-case basis. Accommodations are not provided based simply on diagnosis but are provided according to consideration of an individual’s specific needs.

Documentation Guidelines

Students who are seeking academic accommodations through the Office of Accessibilty Services at Southern Virginia University will need to submit documentation to verify disability eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Protection from disability discrimination under these statutes is based upon confirmation of a disability that substantially limits a major life activity.

The following guidance is provided in the interest of assuring that documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and requests for reasonable accommodations or assistive technology. Appropriate documentation will contribute to our understanding the disability and the impact it has on the student in the college environment. The Accommodations Director is available to consult with diagnosticians, parents, and students regarding this guidance.

Ideally, quality documentation is:

  1. Conducted by qualified and credentialed professionals, who have no personal relationship with the student, and whose credentials match the disability being evaluated (i.e., a medical condition documented by a physician, a psychological condition documented by a psychologist, etc.)
  2. Clear, and contains a specific diagnostic statement, which describes the current, functional impact on a major life activity. A DSM code is preferable.
  3. Comprehensive, and includes a description of diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, dates of testing, and includes the names, data and results of formal instruments, e.g., aptitude testing (such as the WAIS), achievement testing (such as the Woodcock-Johnson), and behavioral testing (such as the BASC).
  4. Current, and contains information about current functional limitations, and how it impacts the individual in an academic setting. Recent documentation from assessments done during or since the senior year of high school using adult norms are preferable and may be required. Older documentation can inform us of how permanent or invariable conditions may impact the individual.
  5. Thorough and extensive, and contains information about how the condition may change over time, and in various environments, e.g., weather changes, times of the day, or within changing social and academic contexts. A summary of the effectiveness and impact of medications, interventions or treatments across physical, social, and cognitive settings is also important.
  6. Detailed, and gives a historically relevant description of past services, interventions, and accommodations, with rationales for each.
  7. Indicatory, giving explicit recommendations, made by a credentialed professional, for accommodations, services, and strategies.

Emotional Support Animals

Students who wish to keep an emotional support animal (ESA) on campus will need to provide the following documentation to the Office of Accessibility Services. Documentation must be provided at the start of each academic year and be dated within the previous six months. The evaluators should be an independent counselor or doctor outside of the Southern Virginia University Wellness Center. Documentation should include:

  1. Credentials and contact information of the evaluator(s).
  2. Diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
  3. Description of the diagnostic methodology used.
  4. Description of the current functional limitations.
  5. Description of the expected progression or stability of the disability.
  6. Description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications.
  7. Statement on how the animal serves as an accommodation for the verified disability.
  8. Statement on how the need for the animal relates to the ability of the student to use and enjoy the living arrangements provided by the university.
  9. Proof the animal is licensed pursuant to applicable laws.
  10. Health statement, including vaccination record, for the animal from a licensed veterinarian.
  11. Name and contact information of an alternative caregiver for the animal should the owner become ill or unavailable. (The student must keep this information updated with the Office of Housing & Residence Life.)

A student may check in to university housing with an emotional support animal after the Student Wellness Center has certified all documentation. The animal must remain in the student’s bedroom.

ESA Annual Application Deadlines

Additional Resources


Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

  1. ESA Instructions
  2. ESA Provider Form 
  3. ESA Application