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Division of Student Affairs


Available Services

Academic adjustments and auxiliary aids (accommodations) are determined for each student on an individual basis. It is important to remember that the diagnostically documented effects of the disability must support recommended accommodations. Following are the primary services provided by DSS and an overview of the various types of accommodations we provide. Please remember that this list of services and accommodations is not all-inclusive.

Advocacy and Consultation

The DSS Specialist is available to consult with students, staff and faculty regarding how to best meet students' disability-related needs, and will support students in their self-advocacy efforts toward this goal. DSS is also a resource for providing information to the campus community and general public about federal and state disability laws that protect students with disabilities from discrimination and ensure access to campus programs and facilities. Please visit the Department of Justice webpage on Disability Rights Laws.

For your convenience we have provided a link to the printable version. Adobe PDF file

Pre-Admission Consultation

DSS will answer general questions you have about UW Tacoma that may help you decide if your needs can be met on our campus and whether we can provide that which you are looking for in a college. If you have questions regarding your academic qualifications for admission (visit UW Tacoma's Enrollment Services page for more information), we will direct you to a pre-admission advisor through our Enrollment Services Office, please visit their page devoted to Academic Advising for more information.

Our pre-admission advisors are happy to work with you in planning strategies for meeting the University of Washington Tacoma enrollment requirements, as well as your academic goals once admitted to UW Tacoma.

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the University of Washington (Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell) does not ask on its application for admission whether a student has a disability. By law, this question is illegal. However, if you have questions regarding whether to personally disclose information about your disability during the application process, please contact the DSS Office.

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After you have been admitted to the University and have submitted acceptable documentation Adobe PDF file of your disability, we will meet with you to determine your eligibility for DSS services and work with you to establish appropriate and reasonable academic adjustments and auxiliary aids (accommodations). Accommodations provided by DSS include, but are not limited to:

Adaptive Technology

Adaptive technology is a continually evolving array of computer, digital, and other software and hardware products developed to improve access to information for people with various kinds of learning, sensory and mobility differences. UW Tacoma strives to ensure that computers installed with adaptive technology software and other auxiliary aids such as CCTVs and scanners are available to students in strategic locations throughout the campus.

Adaptive Technology on Campus

UW Tacoma has computer stations on campus with adaptive technology software installed on them. They are located in:

Students may request to have adaptive technology software installed in classroom computers when needed for specific classes. Please contact the DSS Office to make this request.

Alternative print format:

Alternative testing services:

Other DSS Services/Resources:

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Foreign Language Requirements


The University of Washington and the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program at UW Tacoma accept American Sign Language (ASL) in lieu of a foreign language both for admission and for the foreign language graduation requirement.

Often, students who have tried and failed in a foreign language course such as Spanish, German, Latin, etc., find that they succeed when taking American Sign Language (ASL) courses. Because ASL meets the University's foreign language requirement, students are encouraged to try taking ASL before giving up completely on learning a second language. If this has already been tried without success, or for other reasons cannot be accomplished, the student may then petition for a foreign language substitution with the assistance of the Disability Support Services Specialist.

Waiving the Foreign Language Requirement

The foreign language requirement is never simply waived; fulfillment by substitute courses is required. A small number of students admitted with credit deficiencies in foreign language are given special permission by UW Tacoma academic program administrators to substitute foreign culture courses for foreign language courses because of deafness, speech impairment, or an identified learning disability Adobe PDF file . Decisions are made on the basis of documentation supplied by the student to DSS together with a recommendation from the Disability Support Services Specialist to the appropriate academic program administrators.

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Priority Registration

DSS provides priority registration to qualified students with documented disabilities. Not all students registered with DSS qualify for priority registration as a reasonable academic accommodation. Priority registration is typically offered to students with diagnostically documented disabilities who meet one or more of the following criteria:

Students must be in good financial standing with the University in order to utilize priority registration. This means that there can be no hold (such as a Financial Aid or Student Advising hold) on the student's account. If there is a hold, registration will be with held until the student resolves the problem.

Students who are eligible for priority registration are responsible for registering during the Period I / Priority Registration time period. Priority registration does not guarantee a student the desired class schedule. Any course pre-requisites must still be met and the student must obtain departmental entry codes.

Problems with Registration

If you are having problems registering for, or dropping your classes, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

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Financial Aid Available to Students with Disabilities

In some instances the University of Washington Tacoma Office of Student Financial Aid (located in the Office of Enrollment Services, GWP 102) works with DSS in order to accommodate DSS-registered students who, because of disability-related reasons, qualify for and want to take a reduced credit load and still maintain eligibility for financial aid services.

Once the student is registered with DSS and it has been determined that taking a reduced credit load would be a reasonable accommodation, the Disability Support Services Specialist then writes a letter to the Office of Student Financial Aid supporting the student's request for a reduced credit load. Each student has an individual relationship with Financial Aid and in rare instances there may be extenuating circumstances under which this request may be denied. Also, taking a reduced credit load may reduce the amount of Financial Aid income the student receives for the quarter. Therefore, this may not be a desirable accommodation. It is strongly encouraged that you discuss any questions and concerns about this process with your Financial Aid advisor and the Disability Support Services Specialist.

The Office of Student Financial Aid website has links to grants, scholarships and other information aimed specifically for, or that otherwise may be useful to students with disabilities. Be sure to ask your Financial Aid advisor for assistance with researching the availability of grant and scholarship monies.

In early 2006, the Pierce County Association of the Blind generously endowed Disability Support Services at UW Tacoma with scholarship money, specifically for UW Tacoma students with vision impairment who are legally blind and reside in Pierce County. Please direct all inquiries about this scholarship (including how to become a donor) to the DSS Office.

Resources and Referrals

DSS has an extensive list of campus and community resources available for students with disabilities and other interested individuals. We make referrals as necessary.

Services and Accommodations Not Provided

The University does not provide services or accommodations that are of a personal nature such as personal attendants or prescriptive aids, (e.g., eyeglasses or hearing aids). The University also does not provide diagnostic evaluations of disabilities. The student is responsible for providing diagnostic evaluations in accordance with the University's policies and stated needs at their own expense. Finally, there are certain accommodations such as personal tutoring, which are not provided at the University of Washington Tacoma, but may be provided at other colleges. Since the University does not provide personal tutoring more broadly to all students on campus, it is not obligated to provide personal tutoring to students with disabilities.

It is important to determine what types of services and accommodations are provided at the colleges and universities you are interested in attending so you can ensure your disability-related needs will be met.