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Student Disability Services at Lehman College

Our Services

The Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) provides a wide range of services for eligible undergraduate and graduate students, including those with acute medical issues and those in recovery. The links below will help you learn about these services, understand SDS protocols, and take charge of your academic success.

Incoming Freshman, Transfer Students, and Veterans and Reservists

The High School-to-College Transition—Incoming Freshmen

The transition from high school to college presents changes and challenges for all students. But students with disabilities must also take into account additional legal and academic considerations when making the transition; at the college level, you are responsible for your academic success. This includes expressing your needs to us and to your instructors in a timely manner. Your professors will expect nothing less from you than they would any other student in their classes.

  • The SDS office is here to help you along the way, but it is important to note that there are significant differences between high school and college:
  • You, the student, must identify yourself to SDS and supply appropriate, current documentation.
  • The high school IEP ends; there is no IEP at the college level.
  • A college education is a privilege, not a right; special programs and instruction are not required.
  • Students are considered adults; parents are not part of the planning process.
  • Accommodations ensure equal access; success is your responsibility.
  • Accommodations are arranged through the SDS office and are only provided in the area of disability. (They are contingent upon proper documentation.)
  • You are expected to do the same work in the same time frame as all students and take the same exams.
  • Faculty has academic freedom in delivery, course content, and performance evaluation.

Transfer Students

Lehman College welcomes applicants from other colleges and universities. If you are a high school graduate, and you have attended college either in the U.S. or abroad--even for as little as one semester, or if you have already earned your associate's degree, you must apply as a transfer student. For more information on admissions requirements, visit the Admissions department online.

The Office of Student Disability Services extends support to eligible transfer students, but it is important to note that, as a transfer student, the documentation requirements and services you receive may vary from institution to institution.

Veterans and Reservists

Lehman College welcomes and supports veterans and reservists on its campus and recognizes the contribution they make as both citizens and as students. If you are a member of the military, you may be entitled to special benefit programs for veterans and reservists with or without disabilities. A great deal of support is available on Lehman's campus. To find out more about programs and services, please visit the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs online.

Academic Assistance and Requesting Services

The Office of Student Disability Services helps students in many ways. The services granted are dependent upon our receipt of proper supporting documentation from you. (See Registering with Student Disability Services for more information on our documentation requirements.) The primary areas of assistance are as follows:

Accessible Media

The Office of Student Disability Services coordinates with publishers and faculty members to provide eligible students with electronic files of their textbooks and instructional materials. These files are commonly referred to as e-text, and are compatible with assistive technology programs and devices used by individuals with disabilities. E-text was made possible as a result of Chapter 219 of the Education Laws of 2003, whereby publishers and other producers of instructional material are required to provide alternate format textbooks to students with disabilities. By using e-text, along with the resources found in our Access and Technology Center, students with disabilities can often increase their overall academic performance.

How to Request Services

Students determined to be eligible by our office for this accommodation must complete and submit an Alternate Format Textbook Request form to our alternate textbook coordinator for each book required.

Students must also sign an Electronic Text Distribution Agreement upon receipt of their books. For more information, please call SDS at 718-960-8441 or stop by room 238 in Shuster Hall.

Staff and Peer Notetakers

For students who are eligible for notetaking services, the Office of Student Disability Services recruits and pays staff notetakers an hourly wage. (Interested staff notetaker applicants should take a look at our Policy and Procedures Manual for Staff Notetakers and complete and return a Staff Notetaker/Reader Application to room 238 Shuster Hall.)
Students with disabilities may also recruit a peer notetaker—a fellow student in their same class—to take notes on their behalves. Peer notetakers receive a stipend of $100 for their service and are honored with a reception at the end of the semester. Interested peer note-takers recommended by their professors or by peers must complete and return a Peer Notetaker Application to room 238 in Shuster Hall.

How to Request Services

Once a student is determined eligible and initiates services, our office makes every effort to recruit notetakers before the semester begins. But we can only do so with your active participation in the process. The following is a list of your primary responsibilities for arranging and managing notetaking services:

  • As soon as you register for classes, notify our notetaker coordinator of your schedule by calling our office at 718-960-8441 or stopping by room 238 Shuster Hall. (Notetaker requests must be submitted prior to the semester to ensure timely recruitment.)
  • If a peer will be taking your notes, he or she must come to our office in room 238 Shuster Hall to complete paperwork to receive their stipend.
  • Immediately notify the notetaker coordinator of any changes to your schedule, including course additions, withdrawals, or room changes, as well as any notetaking needs.
  • Notify our office and your notetaker at least twenty-four hours in advance if you will not be in class. (If you do not show up to class, the notetaker has the right to leave after waiting twenty minutes.)
  • You may arrange to collect your notes from your notetaker after class; otherwise, you may pick them up from our office in room 238 Shuster Hall.
  • Communicate with your notetaker; if you have a preferred style or if you are having trouble understanding your notes, discuss this with your notetaker. He or she is there to help you succeed. (If problems persist, bring it to the attention of the SDS notetaker coordinator.)
  • Notes are for your use only. Do not distribute them to your classmates. Complete and return the notetaking survey you receive from our office at the end of the semester within one week of the semester’s end. Your feedback is important to the continued success of our program.

For more information on our notetakng program, please call SDS at 718-960-8441 or stop by room 238 in Shuster Hall and ask to speak with our notetaker coordinator.

Testing Accommodations

The Office of Student Disability Services works with Lehman faculty to provide testing accommodations to students who qualify. Our Testing Center, located in room 238 Shuster Hall, is equipped with three computers containing assistive and general technology for students who require it. A proctor, reader, or scribe can also be made available by our office if you are eligible.

How to Request Services

Students who are eligible for testing accommodations during a test or a quiz, such as extended time, use of assistive technology, or a distraction-free room, should notify their professors at the beginning of the semester. (The office can furnish the student with an accommodation letter, which details the services to which the student is entitled.) Some professors request that SDS administers extended-time exams; other professors may choose to oversee exams themselves, with the required accommodations in place. Students must follow the SDS test accommodations policy outlined below, and take the following five steps to receive this service:

  • Students must provide requisite documentation, which states the need for testing accommodations, to the Office of Student Disability Services in a timely manner. Documentation is then evaluated and appropriate accommodations are granted (such as extended time; use of a reader, scribe, or assistive technology; an alternative testing format; and/or a distraction-free testing environment.)
  • Students must notify their professors and request alternative testing from them at the beginning of the semester. (Your accommodation letter will state that you are entitled to receive this service.)
  • If the examination is to be proctored by the Office of Student Disability Services, the student must have their professor complete the Testing Accommodation Request form at least one week prior to their test, which is then submitted to Doreen Patrick, our CUNY Office Assistant, who logs it and schedules the exam. Be sure your professor indicates the amount of time the class will have to complete the exam and provide clear, written instructions for SDS staff (e.g., open-book exam, no notes allowed, dictionary/calculator permitted, etc.) Late submission of the Testing Accommodation Request form may result in lost accommodations.
  • The faculty member may either contact the Office of Student Disability Services to arrange for accommodations through our office or choose to administer the examinations themselves. If you will be taking the exam through our office, your professor can e-mail(, fax (718-960-7489), hand deliver, or inter-office mail the exam to SDS in room 238 Shuster Hall. Once the student has completed the exam, unless otherwise specified, the proctor will hand deliver the exam to the department.

Academic Integrity

Students taking exams in the Testing Center in room 238 Shuster Hall are not permitted to have backpacks, cell phones, or other personal items with them during exam time. If a student receiving an exam accommodation is caught cheating, the exam will be confiscated and the faculty member will be notified.

Sign-language Interpreters

The Office of Student Disability Services can provide eligible students who are deaf or hard of hearing with sign-language interpreters. Students requiring this service must provide our office with at least one week advance notice to guarantee services.

Assistive Technology Services

Assistive technology (AT) makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. It can range in nature from hardware devices such as wheelchairs to computer software and hardware. The Office of Student Disability Services supports and maintains accessible computer workstations with state-of-the art AT for all of the office’s registered students in Shuster Hall, room 238, in its Access and Technology Center (ATC) in Leonard Lief Library, room 215, and in classroom labs on an as-needed basis.

One-on-one, personalized training on general technology software and on assistive technology hardware/software is provided by our in-house, assistive technology specialist. The type and amount of training provided is determined on a case-by-case basis. (For some equipment, training is required prior to use or equipment loan.) The SDS also hosts group AT demonstrations and workshops in the ATC. For more information on assistive technology programming, please contact Stephanie Arriola, our assistant director, either by phone at 718-960-2568 or 718-960-1167 or by e-mail at

The Office of Student Disability Services

Room 238 in Shuster Hall is equipped with three computers with current versions of mainstream (e.g., Microsoft Office) and AT software. One of the computers has a 24-inch, flat-panel monitor. There are two closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) for magnifying print material, as well as a large-print keyboard, a scanner; and a printer.

The Access and Technology Center

The Access and Technology Center (ATC) in room 215 of the library is equipped with seven computers, all with 24-inch, flat-panel monitors. Similar to the computers in Shuster, the computers in the ATC contain current versions of both mainstream and assistive technology programs. (For a list of available software and devices, please see the Assistive Technology Software Programs and Hardware Devices section below.) All of the workstations are height-adjustable for students in wheelchairs or for those with other mobility impairments. There are also five flatbed scanners; three CCTVs; two large-print keyboards; and a laser printer with duplex printing capability. Color printing is available as well. (The ATC is open during regular library hours; for information, call 718-960-7768). A valid Lehman ID is required for library entry.)

Assistive Technology Software Programs and Hardware Devices


  • ZoomText is a screen-magnification and screen-reading program that provides students with visual impairments both visual and auditory access to what is on screen. Content can be enlarged from as little as 1.25x to as much as 36x the original size.
    JAWS (Job Access with Speech) is a dedicated screen-reading program for students who are blind or who have severe visual impairments. JAWS tracks a user’s position as work within different applications, and reads literally what is taking place on screen. It helps students auditorily access many mainstream programs (e.g., Microsoft Office suite, Web browsers).
  • Kurzweil 1000 makes print and electronic materials accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired. Students can scan print materials into Kurzweil 1000, which can then be edited as necessary and/or read aloud using the programs’s screen reading capability. They can also either open material from an existing file or create a new file within the program itself for editing or reading aloud.
  • Kurzweil 3000 is a comprehensive reading, writing, and studying program for students with learning disorders and for English-language learners. Kurzweil 3000 will read text aloud while highlighting each spoken word. It offers students tools to increase reading speed and comprehension, as well as features to improve writing skills, such as spell checking, word prediction, help with homophones, and a dictionary, to name a few.
  • Read & Write Gold is a reading, writing, and studying program for students with learning disorders and for English-language learners. The program will read text aloud while highlighting each spoken word; it includes a dictionary, audible spell checking, and word prediction as well. Read & Write Gold also offers seamless integration with mainstream programs such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional is a speech-recognition program, which is useful for students with motor disorders and/or learning disorders—or for anyone who prefers talking to typing. Dragon converts speech to text in many mainstream programs (e.g., Microsoft Office suite, Web browsers) and allows students fulfill assignments; send e-mail; use the Web; and command and control their computers—all by voice.
  • Abbyy FineReader is a professional-level, optical-character-recognition (OCR) program for creating editable and searchable files, without losing the original file’s formatting. Students who are eligible for alternate format books/e-text can have their books and materials scanned and saved as PDFs or Microsoft Word files. (Publisher permission required.) Existing PDF and image files can also be converted to Microsoft Word.


  • Livescribe Smartpens are notetaking devices available for loan, which are part recorder and part pen. The pen allows you to take notes in a highly efficient way. You can synchronize what you write with your audio recording for quick review of your lecture and transfer your notes to your computer. (This does not necessarily replace a notetaker; training and periodic feedback on usage is required. Subject to availability.).
  • Netbooks are available for loan should a student require typed notes. (Subject to availability; training is required.) Large-print keyboards for students who are visually impaired are available on two stations in the ATC and on one station in the SDS office in 238 Shuster.
    Handheld CCTVs and 15” portable (nearly full-size) CCTVs for students who are visually impaired are available for loan. (Subject to availability. Training is required.)
  • A high-speed scanner allows students the option of speedily scanning textbooks to create electronic files. Books can be magnified or read aloud with a screen-reading program. (Publisher permission required.)
  • Cassette recorders and digital voice recorders are available for loan to students who are eligible for this accommodation.
  • The Victor Reader Vibe and Victor Reader Wave are audio playback devices available for loan to students who need access to electronic books in proprietary, DAISY format.
  • Large print copies of difficult-to-see/read tables, detailed images, and graphs from students’ textbooks can be processed upon request. (Advanced notice required.)
  • Personal FM transmitter systems to amplify classroom lectures for are available for students who are hard of hearing.

Equipment Loan Program

  • Students registered with the Office of Student Disability Services are permitted to borrow equipment such as recorders, Victor Readers, or FM transmitters, for the duration of a semester. They are required to sign a release form, which states that they are responsible for the equipment if lost, stolen, or broken. The SDS is always procuring new equipment. For a current list of available items, or to offer your ideas on new items for our consideration, please call the office at 718-960-8441 or 1167 and ask to speak to the assistant director.

SDS Forms

Students registered with the Office of Student Disability Services must complete and submit hard copy forms to us (an original signature is mandatory) in room 238 Shuster Hall to receive accommodations for which they are eligible. Click on the links below to access and print the appropriate forms. (All documents are PDFs; Adobe Acrobat Reader is required. Download the Reader for free from the Adobe Web site.)


Accessible Media