At Harvard University and Harvard Kennedy School, we value disability as integral to the diversity of our community.
Our goal is to provide an equal educational opportunity to all students by removing barriers, all while complying with federal and state regulations. HKS provides accommodations to students with documented disabilities on an individual, case-by-case basis, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Support services and resources are still available to our students if they are struggling but do not have a disability as defined below.
A disability is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activites.*
Harvard Kennedy School modifies its policies, practices, and/or procedures so students may have equal opportunity to participate in its programs and activities. These changes are commonly referred to as “reasonable accommodations” and examples may include but are not limited to:
- Sign language interpreters
- Notetaking software
- Materials in alternative formats, including different font size or digital format
- Extension of time on exams
An accommodation is not reasonable if it would:
- Lower or substantially modify academic requirements (e.g., a request to change an exam’s content or a request to be exempt from required work)
- Impose an undue administrative burden (e.g., deadline reminders)
- Be provided for personal use or study (e.g., hearing aids, personal care attendants, tutors, or coaches)
- Require a fundamental alteration of the nature of Harvard’s programs or activities, or of essential academic requirements
If a requested accommodation would fundamentally alter the nature of an HKS program or activity, other accommodations will be considered to permit participation in the program or activity to the maximum extent possible.
*Support services and resources are still available to our students if they are struggling but do not have a disability as defined above.
- You submit appropriate documentation to our office or, if you are an incoming student, through the new admit portal (read our documentation guidelines)
- Disability Accommodations Coordinator reviews documentation
- You and the Disability Accommodations Coordinator meet to discuss your lived experience, the documentation, potential accommodations, and expectations of both parties
- Disability Accommodations Coordinator notifies you in writing if accommodations are approved and assists with implementation
Keep in mind: each student is unique. Documentation requirements and approved accommodations may vary by situation. In most cases, documentation is essential to establish the presence of a disability, the need for accommodations, and the nature of those accommodations.
Appropriate documentation must:
- Be dated, on letterhead, and signed by the licensed treating qualified care provider. The provider should not be a friend or family member of the student.
- Include a concrete diagnosis
- Describe, in detail, how the diagnosis substantially limits one or more major life activities (walking, concentrating, seeing, etc.) in as much detail as possible. For temporary disabilities due to illness, injury, or medical procedure, include length of time each limitation will persist.
- Include recommendations for accommodations to mitigate these limitations, tying each recommendation to the described limitation
For learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD diagnosis, we strongly prefer a complete psychoeducational or neuropsychological assessment that include standardized assessments such as the Woodcock-Johnson series, Wechsler series, etc.
Documentation must be emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- An HKS student to another school (within or outside of Harvard): the student must notify our office in writing—with as much notice as possible—of the cross-registered class. We will notify our counterpart at the other school of their approved accommodations at HKS. Depending on the school, additional meetings with their team may be required.
- A student from another school registering into an HKS class: the student should follow their home school’s normal procedure and notify their disability coordinator with as much notice as possible that they will be taking a class at HKS. Their disability coordinator will be in touch with our office. Most accommodations will be immediately approved and implemented; however, occasionally an additional meeting with the cross-registered student is required.
Any student experiencing issues with their approved accommodations should contact the Disability Accommodations Coordinator as soon as possible.
Learn about the University’s grievance process if:
- The Disability Accommodations Coordinator cannot resolve the issue
- A student disagrees with the approved accommodations
- A student has a larger issue concerning disability discrimination