Caltech is committed to providing reasonable support to students with disabilities by providing academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services and other disability-related accommodations (accommodations) consistent with legal requirements. Caltech will engage in an interactive and individualized process with each student requesting accommodations to explore what accommodations may be reasonable. This process is administered by CASS staff (CASS) and may include input from academic advisors, faculty members, the Director of Wellness Services and, if necessary, outside experts. Requests for accommodations must be supported with appropriate documentation establishing that a student has a disability requiring accommodation. Accommodations provided to a student in the past also may be considered in evaluating the reasonableness of an accommodation, but are not dispositive. If CASS determines that a requested accommodation fundamentally alters an Institute program or activity or constitutes an undue hardship, it will not be approved. If a request for an accommodation is denied by CASS, the student may appeal the decision under the Student Disability Grievance Procedure.
Students who have questions about the process for requesting accommodations, including eligibility requirements, are encouraged to consult with CASS. When appropriate, CASS may provide referrals for additional testing and/or evaluations. Testing is not offered through campus resources.
In order to be eligible for accommodations a student must identify and establish that they have a disability. A condition that rises to the level of being a disability requiring accommodation is defined as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." Examples of major life activities include the ability to perform functions such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, interacting with others, or taking care of oneself. The degree of impairment must be significant enough to "substantially limit" one or more major life activities. Disabilities may be physical or mental.
Caltech recognizes that a student's disability does not necessarily impair an individual's overall performance, but may require them to seek alternative methods of carrying out a given task. It is important to note that an impairment in and of itself does not necessarily constitute a disability. Nor does a medical or mental health diagnosis, in and of itself, necessarily constitute a disability. In addition, the fact that accommodations have been approved in the past does not automatically mean that the same accommodations will be provided at Caltech.
Accepted and matriculating students (students) who believe they have a current and essential need for disability accommodations are responsible for registering with, and requesting accommodations through CASS. Accommodations requested by students registered with CASS will be considered for students who meet eligibility and documentation requirements.
Documentation and Accommodation Decisions
Except in the case of obvious disabilities, students seeking accommodations must provide CASS with supporting documentation from a licensed mental or medical health care professional confirming the existence, nature and extent of the disability. The student also must meet with CASS prior to receiving any accommodations to facilitate the interactive process. All supporting documentation should be provided by a qualified licensed professional with expertise in the diagnosis of the identified disability. Documentation from a family member or someone with a personal relationship with the student (although they may be qualified by training and licensure) will not be accepted. Counselors and other professionals in the Student Wellness Center do not provide documentation for this purpose.
The documentation must also address the "substantial limitation(s)" posed by the impairment and how the disability causes academic difficulties. To ensure complete documentation, we suggest printing or emailing the appropriate guidelines and/or forms provided below (there are printer friendly versions of each), and giving a copy to your clinician/s for preparing documentation. Students are also advised to keep a copy of any documentation they provide to CASS.
While physicians and/or other evaluators may submit recommendations regarding specific accommodations, the CASS professional staff who are familiar with the educational environment at Caltech determine the extent to which the recommended accommodations are appropriate within this context. In short, the evaluator's recommendations provide helpful information, but are not binding.
If, in the judgment of CASS, there is insufficient diagnostic or clinical information in support of the requested accommodations, students may be asked to submit new and/or additional documentation. CASS's evaluation review can also include consultation with at least one clinical consultant, in addition to a required meeting with the student before final determination of formalized accommodations can be made.
CASS registration and accommodation process
- Complete the CASS Registration Form
- Submit supporting documentation completed by a qualified licensed health care provider. You may have your provider complete the relevant CASS documentation form(s) (see Documentation Forms section below), and/or provide a detailed evaluation or letter that discusses diagnoses, functional limitations, and recommendations for accommodations within the higher education setting.
- Request a meeting with CASS to facilitate the interactive process for evaluating reasonable accommodations.
Following the intake appointment, students will be notified by CASS in writing about any accommodation decisions. If an accommodation request is denied, students will be provided with information about appealing the decision through the grievance process.
- Documentation Form for Disability Accommodations (fillable)
- Documentation Form for Allergy, Asthma, and/or Dietary-Based Disabilities (fillable)
- Documentation Form for Emotional Support Animal Requests (fillable)
- Guidelines for Documentation of Learning Disabilities
- Guidelines for Documentation of Temporary Medical Conditions
- Guidelines for Emotional Support Animal Requests (see CASS Service and Emotional Support Animal page)
- Emotional Support Animal Agreement
- Lecture Audio Recording Agreement
- Medical information sharing consent form (if required)
Please allow up to 30 days for reviewing your accommodation request, once the completed CASS Registration Form, AND all other relevant documentation have been submitted. Incomplete or insufficient documentation may delay this process. CASS will prioritize requests for injuries or sudden onset of conditions that may require urgent accommodations, and medical documentation may not be required in some cases when a student's condition is physically visible, depending on the nature of the accommodation request.
Housing accommodation requests: Returning students seeking housing accommodations for the upcoming school year are strongly encouraged to submit their CASS registration materials by the beginning of spring term. Authorization for a service or emotional support animal in Caltech housing must be renewed every year.
Incoming undergraduates: Please visit the Welcome New Undergraduates page for more information on upcoming deadlines.