ODAI Process Overview


Step One: Contact ODAI

The first step in our process is for a student to contact ODAI to discuss accommodations.  Some students reach out to ODAI on their own, while others are referred by their program or an individual faculty member.

Upon contacting ODAI, a student will be instructed to complete the Access Form to provide ODAI some information about their disability and their accommodation needs.  (Current students should use this link for the Access Form; admitted students without CU credentials should use this link and click on "start/resume application" to get to the Access Form).

Step Two: Schedule an Appointment with an Access Coordinator

Once the access form is complete, a student will schedule a meeting with their Access Coordinator.  If a student already has documentation of their disability and need for accommodations, they should provide that before the meeting. 


Step Three: Access Consultation

During the initial meeting, the Access Coordinator and the student will go over the information provided in the access form, and the Access Coordinator may request additional information from the student.  If the student does not yet have documentation, or if their documentation is insufficient, the Access Coordinator will explain the documentation requirements and instruct the student to obtain new or updated documentation.

Step Four: Accommodation Decision

Once the student has provided sufficient documentation and discussed their access needs with the Access Coordinator, the Access Coordinator will approve reasonable accommodations for the student.  This may involve discussion with the program regarding the reasonableness of the requested accommodations.  If ODAI is not able to approve the accommodation(s) requested by the student, ODAI will attempt to provide alternative accommodations to reduce or eliminate the access barrier identified by the student.


Step Five: Accommodation Notification

When the Access Coordinator approves accommodations for a student, they will send a Faculty Notification Memo (FNM) to the student and the ODAI liaison for the student's program.  The process for notifying faculty of accommodations varies by program (see below in Notification of Accommodation Section). 

Once a student is approved for accommodations, those accommodations will remain in place for the duration of the student's time in their program at CU Anschutz.  If the student believes a modification to the accommodations is warranted, they should schedule a meeting with their Access Coordinator to discuss their situation.

Syllabus Statement

The following statement should be included on your syllabus to let students know how to request disability accommodations: 


The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is committed to providing equitable access to our programs for students with disabilities (e.g., psychological, attentional, learning, chronic health, sensory, and physical). To engage in a confidential conversation about the process for requesting reasonable accommodations in the classroom and clinical settings please contact The Office of Disability, Access, & Inclusion at: disabilityaccess@cuanschutz.edu or begin the process via the website. Accommodations are not provided retroactively, therefore, students are encouraged to begin this process early.  

Types of Accommodations

A variety of types of accommodations exist. Accommodations can be thought of as didactic, clinical, lab, and testing accommodations.

Notification of Accommodation

You may be wondering how you will know whether students in your course have accommodations.  The answer depends on your school, college, or program.

The CHA/PA ODAI program liaison will notify course directors about student accommodations at the start of each course. 

Students in School of Medicine Programs will notify the appropriate faculty* and the Associate Dean of Student Life of their accommodations at the beginning of each major component of the curriculum. 

*Appropriate Faculty: 

  • Plains: Assistant Dean of the Pre-clinical Core 
  • Foothills:  Assistant Dean of the Clinical Core and LIC Director
  • Alpine/Summit: Assistant Dean of Post Clerkship Curriculum
  • Fort Collins Branch: Assistant Dean, FCB 

Students in Skaggs School of Pharmacy will notify their course directors and SOP Instructional Design of their accommodations prior to the start of each course. 

Students in all other Schools and programs will notify faculty of their accommodations prior to the start of each course.  Students will send their Faculty Notification Memorandum (FNM) to each of their faculty.  The FNM lists the student's approved accommodations.  A student may request a time to meet with their faculty to discuss the implementation of their accommodations in a particular course. 

Communicating with Students about Accommodations

Faculty often have questions about how to communicate with students regarding their accommodations.  When you first receive notice from a student that they have accommodations, ODAI recommends that you acknowledge receipt of the notice, so the student knows you are aware of their accommodations.  If the student has requested a meeting with you to discuss their accommodations, it is best to schedule that meeting as early as possible, preferably before the course begins, so that everyone has the same understanding of how the accommodations will be implemented.  ODAI encourages students to request meetings with their faculty if they have accommodations such as flexibility in attendance or deadlines during condition flare-ups; it is important for the student and faculty member to know from the start of the course how the student will notify the faculty when they need to utilize that sort of accommodation.  If a student hasn’t requested a meeting with you, but you have questions about how the accommodations can be implemented in your course, please contact ODAI at disabilityaccess@cuanschutz.edu for assistance.   

Any time you are communicating with a student about their accommodations, keep the student’s privacy at the forefront of your mind.  You may only share information about a student’s accommodations with those who need the information in order to ensure that the accommodations are implemented.  You should not ask a student for any information about their disability, nor should you ask any questions that might have the effect of making a student feel pressured to share disability-related information.  If a student voluntarily discloses information about their disability to you, do not share that information with anyone else.  If a student offers to send you information about or documentation of their disability, politely decline the offer (you could say, “I am not comfortable being in possession of that information.  You should only share that information with ODAI”).  If a student sends you unsolicited information or documentation about their disability, you should delete it and let the student know that they should discuss any disability-related information with ODAI staff. 

Remember that any time you are communicating with a student, whether they have accommodations or not, you are modeling professional communication skills.  It is important for all of our students to learn how to communicate with others respectfully.  Faculty’s demonstration of respectful, professional communication can go a long way toward teaching students how to reciprocate that respect and professionalism. 


What Accommodations Are/Aren't

Accommodation is an adjustment or modification to the academic environment that removes barriers and provides access to a qualified individual with a disability. Accommodations are federally protected legal rights enumerated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Amendments Act of 2008. All public-facing institutions and services that utilize federal funding must provide an accommodation process that is interactive, least burdensome to the student, and based on the individual, case-by-case nature of each unique request.  

Accommodations are: 

  • Federally protected civil rights necessary to provide access to disabled people 
  • Adjustments made to the academic or learning environment that create an equitable experience disabled and non-disabled students alike 
  • Modifications to an inaccessible environment to allow a disabled person to access it (e.g., adding an elevator to allow a wheelchair user to access the second floor of a building)  
  • Necessary for disabled individuals to live full and complete lives in an inaccessible world that was not built with them in mind 

Accommodation is not: 

  • Special, unearned benefits or advantages or a free handout 
  • Optional or choices 
  • Undermining an essential function or technical standard of a program 
  • Guarantees of successful outcomes – only equal access and opportunity to succeed 
  • Unfair privileges that allow disabled students to get ahead 

Personal Services

Personal services are not considered reasonable accommodations. Institutions are not required to provide students with personal services, per Title II of the ADA .

Common personal services include, but are not limited to childcare, personal care attendants, private tutoring medical devices (mobility devices, hearing aids, eyeglasses, etc.), and personal transportation.

Institutions can refer students to resources that are available to all students, or available within the community such as: academic support services, student health and wellness services, city, or institutional transportation services.  

Key Reminders and Tips

An accommodation request that is difficult to implement, costly, or annoying is not necessarily unreasonable. Institutions must follow a thoughtful and deliberative process conducted by individuals with knowledge and experience of the ADA/Section 504.

Faculty and academic programs alone cannot and should not make determinations that an accommodation is reasonable or unreasonable. They should consult their disability services professional (DSP) on campus if a question regarding the reasonableness of a particular accommodation arises. The DSP can facilitate a process that is in alignment with the compliance requirements of the ADA/Section 504.

Common Pitfalls

The following are not adequate justification to not provide accommodations:

  • “This request is difficult to implement”
  • “This student just asks for too many things”
  • “The request doesn’t follow policy or asks to modify a policy”
    • Note that an accommodation request is a request to modify a policy, procedure, or requirement. Just because something exists in policy does not mean it cannot be requested to be modified as part of an accommodation process.
  • “We’ve never done it this way before”
  • “We don’t have the staff”
  • “We don’t have the budget”
  • “The student was rude”
  • “The request violates my academic freedom”
  • “The request will allow a student to cheat”
  • “This is unfair for other students”
  • “They won’t get this accommodation at their job, so we shouldn’t give it to them now”

If you have any questions about accommodations, please do not hesitate to contact the ODAI office to discuss with an Access Coordinator.  

This resource was adapted from a Handout created by Jennifer Gossett, MS the ADA/504 Compliance Manager for Portland Community College for the 2022 Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science Education Symposium. 


Accommodations & Fairness

Sometimes faculty call us concerned that an accommodation is “unfair” because it gives something to a student with the accommodation that a student without the accommodation would not otherwise receive. For instance, a student with accommodation may receive extended time on an exam or an extension on an assignment deadline. On the surface, the nature of the vocabulary “with accommodation” and “without accommodation” makes it seem like those with disabilities are receiving something that those without disabilities are not – which can seem unfair.  

However, what is really the case is that those with accommodation are receiving them because they are without access to an aspect of the educational environment. As the image below depicts, disabled students start out further back on the educational racetrack, not due to lack of competence, credential or knowledge, but simply due to inaccessibility of the race. If we apply fairness or equality to all, then each of the bicycle riders in the image below using the same size and type of bike will have different experiences in the race because of their height and physical ability. Some won’t even be able to ride a bike at all because it doesn’t conform to their body. However, when the bicycle is adapted to the individual's height and ability level, all cyclists can access the race. We do not guarantee they will all pedal at the same speed, reach the finish line, or prevent tumbles; but we do guarantee that they are all accessing the race equitably.  

Depiction of the difference between equality and equity using bicycles

Similarly, those without accommodation do not receive them because they arrive at the educational setting with access to it and do not require any modification or adjustment. With the above analogy in mind, if the bicycle works, why change it? Sure, we could add a motor to the bike to make it go faster for a rider that already has a bike that fits them, and there may be times when that is appropriate given certain situations. But that would be going beyond individual access and providing them with a guarantee that they complete it in record time. This is beyond the scope of accommodation, as accommodation only guarantees equitable access and the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the educational environment.  


As this example illustrates, the issue with fairness is that it assumes a sense of uniformity across all people – that what is fair (and thus necessary) for one is fair for all. Sometimes we get into the trap of saying, “If we did this for this accommodated student, we would have to do it for all (non-accommodated) students.” But we know better. We know that individual differences and abilities exist and to include them in our campus means to not only acknowledge this, but to also be willing to adjust our educational environment to meet students where they are.  


Therefore, our accommodation process is individualized and interactive. Disabled students whose functional limitations may require them to approach or complete required components of programs differently are not exempt or waived from those requirements but are provided the academic adjustments to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities unencumbered by the access barriers.  

The Office of Disability, Access & Inclusion

CU Anschutz

Strauss Health Sciences Library

12950 East Montview Boulevard


Aurora, CO 80045


CMS Login