Disabilities Services and Academic Accommodations

Curtis welcomes students with disabilities and provides reasonable accommodations to those who self-identify in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Academic accommodations, auxiliary services, and technology are made available to students who meet established documentation guidelines.

As the sole criterion for admission to the Curtis Institute of Music is artistic promise, no student shall be denied admission or be subjected to discrimination in admission on the basis of disability.  Curtis will then ensure equal access to education, educational materials, and participation in Institution activities through reasonable accommodation and/or modification.

  • Reasonable accommodations include: extra time to take a test, a quiet location for an exam, an alternate exam format
  • Auxiliary aids include: specialized computer equipment, electronic readers, closed captions
  • Modifications include: rescheduling classes to different locations, substituting courses

Accommodations are not required when they would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.

Definitions and Eligibility

The ADA defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”.  In order for a student’s disorder or impairment to be considered a disability, the student must demonstrate through documentation that the condition meets the above definition.

Regulation for postsecondary institutions is different than the procedures in elementary and secondary schools.  A student who has had special education services in high school, for example, may not necessarily be eligible for accommodations in a postsecondary program.  Each student’s eligibility for accommodations is determined on a case-by-case basis.  A student in need of accommodation or aid must notify the school of the nature of the condition or disability through a formal request and supporting documentation.  Curtis will work with the student to identify appropriate academic adjustments.  Unlike the experience a student may have had in high school, parents are not involved in the process.  The process results in an Accommodation Letter, not an IEP or 504 Plan.

Students are not required to disclose a disability to the school.  If a student does not require nor seek an accommodation, they may keep information about any disability or condition private.  However, if a student does wish to receive an accommodation for a condition or disability, they must disclose.


The Section 504 regulation also states:

[A]ids, benefits, and services, to be equally effective, are not required to produce the identical result or level of achievement for handicapped and nonhandicapped persons, but must afford handicapped persons equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement, in the most integrated setting appropriate to the person’s needs.

In short, access to education is the obligation of the school.  Academic success is the goal of the student.

Documentation Guidelines

Documentation of a disability should be completed and signed by a professional and should verify the disability, identify functional limitations, and suggest appropriate accommodations.  If previous documentation exists, it may be acceptable if it is current (less than 3 years old).  A recent secondary school document, such as an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan, may be acceptable if it adheres to the below guidelines.  If no documentation exists, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain documentation.  The student may then need to pay and incur costs to have an evaluation.

Neither Curtis nor any previous school is required to conduct or pay for an evaluation to document a disability and need for accommodation.  A student may be eligible for services through their state vocational rehabilitation agency, which can be located at http://rsa.ed.gov.  A student can also speak to the director of student financial assistance about other sources of funding.

Curtis will review a student’s documentation in light of the essential requirements for the program.  It is important to remember that Curtis is not required to lower or waive essential requirements nor change components that are essential to a course.

Disability documentation should include the following:

  • Student name, date of birth, and date of evaluation
  • Clinical history of condition, including age on onset
  • Diagnosis and DSM-5 code
  • Symptoms presented
  • Functional limitations and impairments on daily life
  • Impact on academic functioning
  • Medications
  • Measurements used or aptitude/cognitive instruments used and scores
  • Recommendations for accommodations
  • Completed and signed by a licensed physician, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or neuropsychologist
  • Evaluator’s name, contact information, and credentials

Disability-related information provided to Curtis is considered an educational record and falls under the protection of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  FERPA permits the sharing of information about the impact of a disability and accommodation eligibility with other school officials who have a legitimate educational interest.  A school official includes faculty, staff, residence life staff, campus security, or counseling staff.  Legitimate educational interest means the school official needs this information in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities.  Sharing this information does not require student consent under FERPA.


Any student who would like to request academic accommodations should follow the below procedures.

  1. Submit documentation to the manager of student life and international student affairs. This can be via email or in a face-to-face meeting.
  2. The manager will review the documentation and produce an Accommodation Letter
  3. The manager will meet with the student to review the Accommodation Letter and its terms
  4. The student will sign the Accommodation Letter acknowledging that it will be shared with necessary persons
  5. Accommodation Letter is sent to faculty to implement academic accommodation(s)