Disability Support

Students with disabilities

The office of Disability Support Services (DSS) assists RISD students who have either cognitive (learning) or physical disabilities.

If you believe that you have a physical or cognitive disability that requires accommodation, please submit a description of your need and documentation concerning your disability to:

Brittany Boyne
Coordinator of Disability Support Services
504 Coordinator/ADA Compliance Officer
Carr House 311
401 709-8460

Many accommodations take time to arrange. It is in your best interest to make your formal requests as early as possible, preferably prior to the beginning of the semester. Failure to do so might limit our ability to meet your needs (please see the accommodation timeline.)

Five steps to make an accommodation request

1. Contact the ADA/504 coordinator (DSS coordinator)  
Please contact Brittany Boyne or Julie Talbutt at 401 709-8460 to schedule your initial appointment with Brittany Boyne, RISD’s ADA/504 coordinator, to begin the process.

2. Provide documentation and complete the application for services  
Questions about specific types of documentation required should be directed to the coordinator of Disability Support Services. Documentation should be submitted to the DSS office prior to your meeting with the DSS coordinator.

3. Participate in an initial appointment to determine reasonable accommodations  
At your initial appointment you will discuss: 

  1. your documentation
  2. your eligibility for accommodations
  3. any potential accommodations and the related processes
  4. next steps

We will determine if additional documentation is necessary. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions about any part of this process. If no further action is required prior to receiving accommodations (i.e. additional documentation or assessments, etc.), you will receive your accommodations letter at this meeting.

4. Deliver copies of your disability accommodations letter to course instructors 
You are responsible for delivering copies of this letter to course instructors or other relevant faculty. Each instructor or faculty member retains that copy. When delivering each copy, you need to discuss which of the approved accommodations you intend to use in that particular class and what you will need from the instructor to make those accommodations work smoothly.

5. Meet annually to reassess accommodations and receive an updated letter 
An accommodations letter is valid for one academic year. You need to meet with the DSS coordinator every fall, at the minimum, to reassess your accommodations and receive an updated accommodations letter for the new academic year. You are also encouraged to meet with DSS each semester to look at how needs may change based on a changing academic schedule.


Students requesting accommodations must follow RISD's proscribed accommodation timeline. The timeliness of the request is integral to the definition of reasonable accommodation. For example, sign language interpreters for a semester-long course normally take four weeks to arrange. With that in mind, you should not wait until classes have begun to initiate the process; you need to seek assistance through DSS before each semester begins.

When are accommodation requests denied?

Circumstances in which accommodations are likely to be denied include (but are not limited to) the following:

1. Student does not provide required documentation
If a student does not submit required documentation of his/her disability to DSS, RISD cannot provide disability accommodation.
Please note that students may take advantage of other support services at any time (such as the Writing Center, which is available to all students).

In addition, DSS staff provide support on an interim basis to students awaiting the required documentation. This includes scheduling one-on-one meetings to assess pressing academic needs, time management and organizational skills.

2. Fundamental alteration
If an accommodation fundamentally alters the academic standards RISD is required to uphold, the accommodation will be denied.

3. Unreasonable/undue burden
If a requested accommodation is unreasonable DSS will deny it and work to find a reasonable alternative accommodation, assuming sufficient documentation has been provided. If providing a requested auxiliary aid or service would present an undue burden, RISD does not need to provide it, but will work with that student to try to provide another auxiliary aid or service that does not present such a burden.

4. Personal service
If a request for an accommodation falls under the definition of a personal service, DSS denies the request because it is unreasonable. Personal services are those that a person with a disability must use regardless of attendance at the College. These personal services may include independent living/personal care attendants, transportation other than shuttle services, diagnostic testing and rehabilitation, among others. In addition, RISD will not provide individually prescribed devices.

5. Direct threat to health or safety of others
If a requested accommodation would cause a significant risk to the health or safety of others, RISD will deny it.

Requesting Accommodations and Student Choice

When choosing among reasonable accommodations, RISD cannot guarantee that you will be provided your preferred choice. If your preferred choice is not granted, then RISD will provide equally effective alternatives, subject to the limitations described above.

If you feel that the approved accommodations are inadequate and you have already expressed this to DSS without result, you may file a grievance by following the instructions outlined in RISD's Grievance Policy.


Hours & Location

8:30am – 4:30pm

Carr House, Floor 3
210 Benefit Street

Providence's riverfront park offers a great setting for drawing and sketching, just across from RISD's Mandle Center for
Living and Learning.