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Frequently Asked Questions

What is AccessibleNU-Q?

AccessibleNU-Q (ANU-Q), formerly Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), oversees implementation of academic and programmatic accommodations for students with disabilities. Through ANU-Q, students can make arrangements for modifications such as testing accommodations, books in alternate format, assistive technology, auxiliary aids, and other accommodations as determined appropriate by ANU-Q and the student requesting an accommodation.

How do I know if my condition is considered to be a disability and if I qualify for accommodations?

Any student with one or more conditions that interfere with major life activities may qualify for accommodations. AccessibleNU-Q provides services to students with various conditions including, but not limited to:

  • learning disabilities
  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • sensory impairments
  • mobility impairments
  • diagnosed psychological conditions
  • chronic medical conditions
  • life-threatening food allergies

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. If you are unsure if you qualify for accommodations, please email

I've been admitted to NU-Q. When should I start the AccessibleNU-Q application process?

Congratulations! We look forward to working with you and appreciate your interest in planning ahead and registering with us before your classes start. You are welcome to start the registration process at any time.

You can also submit your documentation. Please make sure to indicate: 

  • that you are an incoming student
  • your first semester of enrollment
  • your requested accommodations

To ensure it meets our criteria for registering, but please keep in mind the following caveats:

  1. If we are in the midst of a semester, we need to prioritize your future peers who are currently actively working with us. It may therefore be more than three weeks before we have time to review your documentation and contact you to let you know if your documentation is complete.
  2. Related to #1, we will schedule new student intakes for fall incoming students starting around August and continuing through the beginning of the school year. We ask that new students be patient as we complete the year and finish the spring/summer semesters with our current students.

Note: We will not review documentation for students who have not yet accepted NU-Q’s offer of admission.

How are reasonable accommodations determined?

To put AccessibleNU-Q in the best position possible to be of assistance in working together to determine accommodations, accommodations should generally supported by documentation from a qualified professional, such as a physician, psychologist, or learning specialist who is unrelated to the student.

In general, the documentation you provide must be comprehensive enough to allow the AccessibleNU-Q staff to make informed decisions about reasonable accommodations. It should include:

  • the name of the condition
  • a description of the tests or measures used to determine the condition
  • a description of how the condition impacts your major life activities
  • recommendations for adjustments

Keep in mind, however, that recommended adjustments in your documentation will not automatically be approved as reasonable accommodations by ANU-Q staff. Additional information about our documentation criteria is available. Accommodations will be determined after careful consideration of your documentation, your need for accommodation (which is ascertained, in part, through our intake meeting), and program requirements.

What is the procedure for receiving accommdations at NU-Q?

To be eligible for any accommodations at Northwestern, students must register with AccessibleNU-Q. This means that any student requesting accommodations is required to meet with AccessibleNU-Q staff to review their documentation and cooperatively determine accommodations.

Because accommodations are individualized and granted on a case-by-case basis, there are many methods of implementation. Once accommodations have been determined and you have signed an accommodations agreement, accommodations can be implemented in any classes for which you request an accommodation notification.

In addition to notifying your professors through ANU-Q, you are asked to meet with each of your instructors in the beginning of each semester to verify your instructor's receipt of accommodation notification from you and to discuss details such as whether your instructor can proctor your test or alerting them that assistance is needed soliciting a note-taker.

Will information regarding my disability be printed on my transcript?

No. Even in rare cases where students are approved for course substitutions, no special indicator would appear on your transcript.

AccessibleNU-Q follows a strict confidentiality policy. Your identity as a student registered with ANU-Q and the details of your condition are maintained only in the ANU-Q, and are released to individuals outside of our immediate Dean of Students colleagues only at your request. This also means that no academic institution to which you transfer or attend after NU-Q, no future employer, nor any other third party would be aware of your condition unless you request, in writing, that ANU-Q notifies that third party.

Will my professors be automatically notified each semester that I have registered with AccessibleNU-Q?

No. Only the student can initiate by requesting an accommodation letter from ANU-Q. You may therefore choose to notify only some professors and choose to request only certain accommodations for certain classes. You may also choose not to notify any of your professors; however, if you request any accommodations, you have a responsibility to request an accommodation notification for your professor and to do so in advance of your request.

It is strongly recommended that you notify any professor of any needed accommodation by the end of week 1 of each semester

Will the accommodation notification give details about my condition?

No. Accommodation notifications state only that you have provided documentation that meets our criteria for registering and, as such, you have been approved for particular accommodations.

Although we instruct them not to, professors (who are well-intentioned and probably missed out on our guidance) may occasionally ask about your condition; however, you can say you prefer to keep this information to yourself unless you are inclined to share. If professors contact us for information about your condition, we will not share any details without your explicit permission.

Instead, when professors call us, we typically ask them to share their concerns and/or gather information about their course (to be in a better position to evaluate possible accommodation alternatives, if needed) rather than sharing any information about students. Our next call is to you to pass along the information and to strategize together about next steps. Please see our confidentiality guidelines for more information.

I'm wondering if I have attention-deficit disorder or a learning disability. How do I find out?

It's important to find an experienced evaluator, which may include neuropsychologists, clinical/school psychologists, psychoeducational or learning specialists, and psychiatrists.

A thorough evaluation for learning and attention concerns typically takes at least 6 hours (see our documentation guidelines for learning disabilities and for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, for example), sometimes spaced over multiple days, during which you would be interviewed about your academic and related history and administered a variety of tests. A detailed report should be provided to you afterward.

Because of how involved the evaluation process is, you should be prepared for the fact that it may take a few months to schedule an evaluation as well as a few months after you're tested to receive your report (although some evaluators can provide you with a test score summary to help AccessibleNU-Q make initial determinations about reasonable accommodations).

If you contact AccessibleNU-Q, we can provide you with recommendations. You can also ask for recommendations through your health insurance provider.

I've heard it can be expensive to get evaluated for a learning or attention problem. Is that true?

Many students are, unfortunately, deterred from being evaluated for these conditions since evaluations tend to be expensive. Thorough testing also requires at least a full day's worth of time.

I'm concerned there will be costs associated with getting documentation from my provided to see if I'm eligible to register with AccessibleNU-Q.

If you have a medical condition, it's possible you can procure documentation from a local medical health service, who can, in turn, fill out AccessibleNU-Q's Medical Disability Verification Form on your behalf.

If you have a psychological condition and are connected with Counseling, Health, and Wellness, a therapist there may be able to fill out AccessibleNU-Q’s Diagnosed Psychological Conditions Verification Form on your behalf. Most private mental health and medical providers will also fill out these forms at no cost.

If you are having difficulty procuring documentation of your condition, please contact AccessibleNU-Q, and we'll work with you and, if needed, other campus partners to assist.

Should I share my documentation about my condition during the admission process to NU-Q?

You should not share your documentation with Admissions since Admissions staff generally do not have training to evaluate documentation, and they will not consider this documentation as part of your application. This means that all Northwestern students, including those registered with AccessibleNU-Q, have met the same rigorous admission criteria.

The only potential exception to waiting to self-identify before you've been admitted would arise if you feel your condition may have adversely affected some aspect of your application materials--for example, perhaps your GPA was adversely affected prior to diagnosis and receipt of accommodation. In these cases, you may want to briefly reference your condition and how it impacted you where relevant in an application essay, but you should still not submit your documentation to Admissions.

If I have a note-taking accommodation, how do I get a note-taker?

The note-taking accommodation provides you with the option of receiving an extra set of notes for your course if you have been approved for a note-taker. These additional notes are supplemental and not meant to be a replacement for attending class or taking your own notes. Note-taking is implemented by completing and returning to ANU-Q the note-taker policy and procedure form (link to attachment found in this email), communicating your approved accommodation to your professor, and ANU-Q locating an appropriate student in the class. Notes are typically sent to you electronically from ANU-Q after received by the note-taker. If you are comfortable locating your own note-taker, select someone who attends class regularly and takes good notes that fit your note-taking style. Make sure to notify ANU-Q of the note-taker's name and email right away so we can coordinate payment. If another note-taker has already been selected (by another student in the class approved for this accommodation), a second note-taker cannot be hired. Alternatives to a note-taker are assistive technology options (i.e., Echo Smart Pen, Sonocent Audio Note Taker) which may discussed with ANU-Q staff as requested and/or needed.

I have food allergies and other dietary conditions. Are there accommodations?

Contact AccessibleNU-Q to learn more:

Not seeing your question? Contact AccessibleNU-Q with additional questions not included on this page.

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