Student Information


Disability Support Services (DSS) for Students Admitted to Rice University 

Rice students registered with DSS may have a wide range of disabilities including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, physical or medical conditions, sensory loss, or psychiatric or psychological conditions, etc. DSS establishes eligibility for disability-related assistance, notifies and consults with faculty on needed accommodations, and provides adaptive equipment or resources as needed.

Rice University is committed to providing equal opportunity and access to the educational environment. Disability Support Services supports and implements federal guidelines included in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. DSS strives to make programs and facilities accessible to Rice students with disabilities using a wide range of support services.

Disability Support Services works with community and state agencies such as the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to coordinate campus services for students with disabilities admitted to Rice. For Houston area agencies, DSS will refer students as needed. Students from other states may want to contact their state vocational rehabilitation agencies if special equipment or services are needed while attending Rice University.

Establishing eligibility as a student with a disability 

Disability Support Services will facilitate reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities admitted to Rice. A disability, as defined by federal law, is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, hearing, seeing or learning. A Rice student requesting accommodations must self-identify and provide recent documentation of his or her disability to DSS. This documentation is used to establish the Rice student as an individual with a disability, and provides rationale for reasonable accommodations.

New students that are admitted to Rice are advised to contact DSS following admission to ensure eligibility is established and any needed, reasonable accommodations are evaluated and approved in a timely manner. Accommodations are not retroactive.

Students at Rice who need to request an accommodation are encouraged to refer to the Disability Documentation Guidelines. These guidelines help Rice students and their families know what information is needed to establish eligibility as a student with a disability that necessitates accommodations.

For students admitted to Rice who wish to document an Attention Deficit Disorder, the guidelines developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) are recommended. Refer to the ETS Resources for Test Takers with Disabilities at

 Preliminary Notification of Disability-Related Needs 

Recently admitted students who think disability support may be needed should notify DSS prior to arriving on campus. Complete and submit the online Preliminary Notification of Disability-Related Needs form. DSS will then contact the student to discuss particular needs. The Preliminary Notification form is merely provided to begin communication between the newly admitted student and DSS; completion does not automatically qualify a student as an accommodations-eligible individual with a disability.

Accommodations: What are they? How are they determined? How are they provided? 

Accommodations are academic adjustments, services and/or equipment that allow a Rice student with a disability to have equal access to academic programs, and to share in full participation with the Rice university community. Accommodations are made on an individual basis and are based on the functional limitations posed by the disabling condition(s).

Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Assistive listening devices
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Captioning services (CART)
  • Extended time on examinations
  • Distraction-reduced examinations
  • Braille materials
  • Books in an alternative format (audio or e-texts)
  • Desktop video magnifiers (CCTVs)
  • Note taking or assistance with lecture notes
  • Specialized computer software
  • Advocacy

Accommodation letters are developed collaboratively by the director of DSS and the student with a disability. These letters are for the student’s professors and indicate recommended accommodations. The nature of individual courses and course requirements vary, e.g. labs versus lectures. Therefore, the ways in which a student st Rice with a disability is functionally limited will impact some classes differently than others.

Food Allergies

Rice students residing on campus who have food allergies may have  food related disabilities that limit their ability to participate in Rice’s meal plan. Examples of such disabilities are an autoimmune disease like celiac disease or allergies to products like wheat, milk, peanuts, eggs, etc. Students who need modification to Rice’s meal plan need to contact the Disability Support Services (DSS).

DSS will need documentation from a physician that includes:

  • A confirmed and clear diagnosis,
  • Relevant medical history,
  • Test results that support the diagnosis (where appropriate),
  • Course of treatment, and
  • A description of the specific type of foods to be avoided or required.

Once DSS has reviewed the documentation an appointment will be set to meet with the director of DSS to discuss the student’s accommodation needs. For Meal Plan accommodation requests, please contact the DSS Director at Please contact the Residential Dining Director for information regarding meal preparation at

     Adaptive Technology Available 

    An Adaptive Technology (AT) lab which is located in Fondren Library room 108, is available for students admitted to Rice. The following is a list of some of the available technologies:

    • Desktop video magnifier (CCTV) - used for magnification of printed materials
    • JAWS screen reading software - used to make to make computers accessible to blind and visually impaired students
    • Refreshable Braille display
    • Kurzweil 3000 – software used to scan and read materials for students with learning disabilities or blind/visually impaired
    • Kurzweil 1000 – software used to scan and read materials for students who are blind or visually impaired
    • Zoom Text – software used to magnify materials on a computer screen
    • TDD for students with hearing impairments

    At the DSS office, located in Allen Center, Room 111, the following technologies are used by AT staff to produce materials for students as needed:

    • Braille embossers for text and figures/tactile graphics
    • High-speed scanner with optical character recognition (OCR) software

    Certain pieces of adaptive technology equipment are available for check-out if needed, also from the DSS office. These include:

    • Assistive listening devices
    • Adapted CD players – for use with certain audio books
    • Manual (push) wheelchair
    • Mobility scooters or golf carts
    • Audio recording devices

    The AT staff, in addition to producing academic materials for students, also offers training on various types of adaptive technology. For details, contact the AT coordinator at Allen Center, Room 111 or by phone at 713-348-5754.

    Student Responsibilities 

    A Rice student with a disability has a responsibility to contact DSS if any accommodations are required.

    If accommodations are needed, the Rice student with a documented disability will receive an accommodation letter from DSS to take to each instructor. It is the student's responsibility to deliver these letters as soon as possible. Instructors expect to receive notification early in each semester; students who deliver their letters later may encounter difficulties. Good, early communication is vital to the accommodation process.

    A Rice student who thinks accommodations are not being provided in the manner specified, or are not sufficient to afford access, must notify the director of DSS as soon as possible so the situation can be resolved.

    If a student chooses to discontinue use of accommodations, notification is expected.


    Disability Support Services respects the confidential nature of disability information, whether conveyed verbally, electronically or in writing. Students admitted to Rice can authorize the release of pertinent information to campus individuals when there is a legitimate educational reason to do so. Examples may relate to housing arrangements, academic accommodations, instructional strategies and resources, or other circumstances specific to the individual.

    Disability-related documentation and information are stored at the DSS office. A disability designation does not appear on transcripts or other master university documents. DSS files are not integrated with computerized university records. As well, disability status is not a part of the admissions process and will not impact whether or not the prospective student is admitted to Rice University.

    Professors are aware of the confidential nature of the disability information shared with them. The accommodation letters they receive do not give diagnoses unless requested by the student. The letters merely describe the functional limitations caused by the disability and the corresponding accommodations.

    Study Abroad 

    Disability Support Services works closely with the Study Abroad Advisors at Rice’s International Programs department, and Rice students with disabilities are encouraged to consider studying abroad. While the laws of foreign countries may not mirror those in the U.S., DSS and International Programs work to facilitate equivalent access in study abroad programs regarding the provision of accommodations. Rice students with a range of disabilities including learning disabilities, hearing loss, blindness, and health impairments have successfully studied abroad in a variety of countries.

    Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is an excellent resource for information about travel and study abroad for individuals with disabilities.

    Financial Aid and Resources 

    Rice University does not specifically offer scholarships or financial aid to students with disabilities. General information regarding typical financial aid inquiries should be directed to the Office of Financial Aid.

    A non-Rice website which is a source for information about financial aid for students with disabilties is the HEATH Resource Center. The Heath Resource Center is not affiliated with Rice University; however, it has served as a national cleainghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilties and may provide useful information in your search for financial aid and resources. 


    The Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) at Rice offers comprehensive assistance on all aspects of employment and career decision making. DSS and CSPD will work together when the specific needs of a student suggest a collaborative approach. A non-Rice web site, Job Seeking Skills for People with Disabilities, may be another useful resource.

    Medical Alert 

    Rice Students with major medical or physical conditions are encouraged to complete a Medical Alert form. This form states whom the student wants contacted in the event of a medical emergency (e.g., Rice EMS unit, college personnel, professors and/or work supervisors). Students with epilepsy, diabetes, cardiac conditions or other similar health conditions may wish to complete a Medical Alert Form and a Medical Alert Memo. Contact DSS to discuss completion of this form, which does not guarantee specific medical responses or treatment. The form merely assists university personnel in being familiar with an individual’s medical background in the event of a crisis.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan

    Individuals at Rice with disabilities including mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, speech impairments, and cognitive impairments should plan for evacuation in case of an emergency. Please fill out the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan for the residential colleges, office buildings, labs or other facilities where you expect be on a regular basis. File updates as needed. Forward the plan to Disability Support Services. The plan will be submitted to RUPD and the Fire Safety Officer.

    When preparing the plan keep in mind the four elements of evacuation information that people need.

    • Notification (What is the emergency?)
    • Way finding (Where is the way out?)
    • Use of the way (Can I get out myself, or do I need help?)
      • Self
      • Self with device
      • Self with assistance
    • Assistance (What kind of assistance might I need?)
      • Who
      • What
      • Where
      • When
      • How

    Short-Term Disabilities

     Rice students who have injuries, surgeries or other conditions which will temporarily restrict them on campus can contact DSS. If short-term assistance is required, a medical statement may be necessary if equipment is checked-out to the student during recovery. For mobility equipment such as scooters or the golf cart, medical documentation and a security deposit will be necessary for check-out. Individuals in need of mobility equipment should contact DSS prior to visiting the office.


    Accessible housing units are available for both undergraduate and graduate students in all university residences.

    Undergraduates at Rice University are assigned to one of 11 unique colleges, where wheelchair accessible rooms and rooms equipped for the deaf are available. The colleges are much more than conventional dormitories; each is a special community. If an incoming student needs specific physical features, he/she will need to contact DSS. Examples of such needs include specific room-type, stair access, needing to be near a particular location on campus, etc. If the parent of an incoming undergraduate student has a physical disability that will impact visiting the student while at Rice, please contact DSS.

    New undergraduate students coming in the fall semester should notify DSS of any special housing needs no later than June 1st.New graduate students need to notify DSS by May 15th if requesting accommodations in Rice graduate housing units. Medical documentation is often requested if modifications or special arrangements are required. DSS, following processing, makes recommendations to the Director of Housing and Dining as well as the Dean of Undergraduates.

    Newly admitted students may choose to notify Disability Support Services of their possible need for housing accommodations by using the online Preliminary Notification of Disability-Related Needs form. DSS will then make contact to discuss particular needs. Completing the online preliminary notification form does not automatically qualify the student as eligible for housing accommodations; it is provided to begin communication between DSS and incoming students with disability-related concerns.

    Service/Assistance Animals 

    Some Rice students with disabilities utilize the services of trained animals to directly assist them in daily life. Service animals, often referred to as assistance animals, are permitted to accompany their owner everywhere on campus. For further information contact the DSS office.


    Students are referred to the Grievance Procedures if they believe they have a problem related to accommodations or other disability related services or treatment at Rice University.