Student FAQ

What is a disability? 

An individual with a disability is defined as any person who “has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.” More information may be found on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

What does “substantially limiting” mean? 

Substantially limiting is defined as being unable to perform a major life activity or being significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or to most people. More detailed information may be found in the Guide to Disability Rights Laws. 

What is a major life activity? 

A major life activity can be defined as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

The ADA Amendment Acts of 2008 expanded this list to also include eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, reading, bending, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. In addition, the ADAAA includes major bodily functions (e.g., "functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions"). More detailed information may be found in the Guide to Disability Rights Laws. 

What should I know when applying to the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)? Are there any special procedures? 

Students with disabilities apply to UMB through the regular admissions procedure. There are no special admissions procedures. However, students with disabilities are welcome to contact the Office of Educational Support and Disability Services (ESDS) to discuss concerns before attending UMB. The pre-admission consultation does not impact UMB admission nor is it a guarantee of discussed accommodations.   

Before taking standardized admission exams (i.e. GREs, LSATs, MCATs), a student may apply to those testing companies for provision of accommodations. Contact the exam administration companies for further information on how to apply for and make arrangements for standardized exam accommodations.

What are the rights and responsibilities of a student with a disability? 

Students with disabilities have the right to equal access to courses, programs, activities, services, and facilities offered by UMB. Students are also entitled to reasonable accommodations. All information about the student’s disability is to be kept confidential. Students have the responsibility to provide acceptable documentation of disabilities and register with ESDS if they would like to receive accommodations. If students deem it necessary to receive accommodations for a particular class, students have the responsibility to inform the instructor, deliver the accommodations letters that verify their approved accommodations, and participate in the discussions about how their needs can be met.

Please visit Student Rights and Responsibilities for a more detailed list. 

What are academic accommodations? 

Reasonable accommodations (also known as Academic Adjustments and/or Auxiliary Aids) are modifications or adjustments that allow an individual to gain equal access and have equal opportunity to participate in the University's courses, services, activities, and use of facilities.

The ESDS website provides a listing of examples of accommodations. All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, according to the needs of the individual and the individual’s specific program of study for a particular semester. Accommodations may change from semester to semester.

While a student’s request for accommodation is always considered, ESDS engages in an interactive process to devise a plan that is acceptable to the University, the school, and the student. Determination of whether an accommodation is reasonable is made by ESDS in consultation with school liaisons and other appropriate campus personnel. In keeping with the provisions of the ADA, an accommodation will not be approved if it:

(1) is incompatible with the technical standards for admission to, and completion of the program;

(2) alters the fundamental nature of the academic program;

(3) would result in a risk to the health or safety of the student or another individual; or

(4) would result in undue hardship to the University.  

What should I do if I suspect I have a disability and want to receive accommodations? 

If you are experiencing barriers that are impacting your academic performance and/or you suspect you have a disability, you will need to contact the ESDS office and provide documentation of the disability. This documentation must be supplied by a qualified professional who is licensed or certified to diagnose the disability. An appointment also should be scheduled with ESDS staff to discuss your potential need for services and gather resource and referral information. 

I received special education (IDEA) or 504 services in high school; how are these services different in college? 

Colleges and universities are required to provide reasonable accommodations that may be necessary for equal access to education. They are not required to design special programs for students with disabilities or have individualized educational plans (IEPs). The State of Maryland Department of Disabilities and the Maryland Higher Education Commission provide a useful overview of Disability Support Services in Post-Secondary Education

If I am a student with a disability, will ESDS seek me out to provide services the way my counselors did in high school? 

Universities are not required to seek out students with disabilities. It is the student's responsibility to seek out services through the Office of Educational Support and Disability Services

What role do my parents play in the process? 

Students who are 18 or older are legally recognized as adults. In this case, the student is responsible for their own accommodation requests and disability-related decisions. However, students are encouraged to have an open dialogue with their parents, who can be a wonderful source of support.

I have a physical disability and have trouble getting around. What types of accommodations are geared just for me? 

Students with physical disabilities are encouraged to register with ESDS every semester so that assistance can be given, if needed, to access to buildings and other University activities. 

Students may request accessible parking passes by contacting Parking and Transportation.

UM shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible and in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Maryland Transit Administration also provides accessible transportation options.

I suspect I have a learning disability; can ESDS conduct the assessment to provide a diagnosis? 

UMB does not conduct or provide testing. The student is responsible for providing current documentation and any additional testing to support the requested accommodations, if necessary. The ESDS office can provide referral information for local evaluators.

How do I request accommodations though ESDS? 

To register with ESDS and request reasonable accommodations and sup­port services, students need to complete a three-step process.

  1. Complete the Disability Disclosure and Reasonable Accommodations form online.
  2. Submit appropriate documentation confirming the disability. Documentation should be current and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Contact ESDS staff to schedule an initial appointment to discuss barriers to access, accommodations, and services that you may need.

Accommodations will not be implemented retroactively. For more detailed information on the accommodations process, please visit How to Request Accommodations.

When can I request accommodations? 

Accommodations may be requested at any time but will not be implemented retroactively. Students are encouraged to be proactive, work with their advisors and instructors, and submit their requests for accommodations to ESDS as early as possible so that accommodations can be coordinated in a timely manner. It is important that requests are not made at the last minute, because that inhibits the ability of ESDS and faculty to coordinate the accommodations appropriately. 

How will I receive my accommodations letter once my accommodations have been approved?  

After the accommodation letter has been approved by the school liaison, ESDS will send an email through the online accommodation request system notifying the student that their letter is ready. The student can then log in to the system with their UMID and password to download, save, and/or print the PDF of the approved accommodations letter. 

How are my instructors notified about my accommodations? 

If students deem it necessary to receive accommodations for a particular class, students have the responsibility to inform the instructor, to deliver the accommodations letter that verifies their approved accommodations, and to participate in the discussions about how their needs can be met.

It is important to contact instructors early and provide at minimum one week's notice so all accommodations can be coordinated appropriately.

What should I do if I think an instructor is not being sensitive to my needs as an accommodated student? 

Students are welcome to contact ESDS with any questions or concerns regarding their accommodations. Student may also contact the ESDS liaison at their school.

Please see the table below for a listing of the ESDS liaisons and their contact information.


SchoolESDS LiaisonPhone NumberEmail 
Dentistry Kelly Powers 410-706-3185 
Dental Hygiene Kelly Powers 410-706-3185  
DMRT Cynthia Stambach 410-706-7728  
GPILS Elice Garcia-Baca 410-706-6042
Graduate School Jenny Owens, ScD, MS 410 706- 4412
Genetic Counseling Program Shannan Dixon, MS, CGC 410-706-4770 
Public Health  Andrea Manning, MHSE 410-706-0539
Physical Therapy Doug Savin, PT, PhD 410-706-5210
Physician's Assistant Program Theresa Neumann 410-706-1850 
Law  Ann Kim, JD 410-706-2064 
Medicine  Tess Gillis, MBA, MJ 410-706-7669 
Nursing Ann Mech, RN, JD 410-706-7646 
Pharmacy  Kim Ladjabi 410-706-0756 
Pharmacy - Medical Cannabis Science & Therapeutics Leah Sera


Social Work Dawn Shafer, LCSW-C 410-706-6992 
Social Work PhD Bethany Lee, PhD, MSW 410-706-3809 











How do I file a grievance about my accommodations? 

A student with questions or a grievance about a reasonable accommodation decision of the University or their school should first communicate with the school contact or the director of ESDS. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved, then they should proceed to the grievance procedure.

The grievance procedures and school contacts can be found under the Policies section of the ESDS website.