Auxiliary Services and Assistive Technology

If you are a student with a documented disability requesting academic accommodations and/or auxiliary services, contact SDS to make an appointment to discuss your needs.

Individual accommodations are determined through an interactive process with the SDS staff. Academic accommodations are meant to provide the student with equal access without fundamentally altering the essential elements of a course or degree program.

Auxiliary services and assistive technology provided to students include but are not limited to: sign language interpreters, captioning, assistive listening devices, and document conversion.

Table of Contents

Reasonable Accommodations and Auxiliary Services

A student's disability status and reasonable accommodations and auxiliary services are individually determined based upon disability documentation (supplied by the student) and an intake meeting with a member of the SDS professional staff where additional information is collected about the student's academic history, functional limitations, and prior accommodations in an academic setting. Generally, a follow up meeting completes the accommodation process. If you are a student with a documented disability who is requesting academic accommodation(s) and/or auxiliary services, contact the Office of Student Disabilities Services (SDS) to make an appointment with the appropriate professional staff member. Have your PennID number available when you call.

Interpreter/Cart Policies and Procedures (Students with Deafness/Hearing Impairments)

Academic adjustments, reasonable accommodations and auxiliary services are provided qualified students with disabilities. Interpreter services used by students with hearing impairments include, but may not be limited to, Certified American Sign Language Interpreters, Oral Interpreters, and Computer Assisted Real Time Reporters (CART captioning) who are freelance and/or certified professionals contracted through regional interpreter referral organizations and companies.

Guidelines for Students using Interpreting/Reporting

The Office of Student Disabilities Services (SDS) coordinates sign language interpreting and real time reporting (captioning) services for students based upon documented disability and individual requests for auxiliary aids. Given the advanced coordination time required, student contact should be initiated with as much notice as possible. Students should contact SDS upon admission and returning students as soon as registration/pre-registration for classes each semester. SDS covers financial administration of auxiliary services. Newly self-identified students: send a recent copy of an audiogram along with a written report describing any functional limitation(s) on a major life activity in an academic setting and rationale for recommended accommodation(s). Refer to the Guidelines for Students with Physical Disabilities to augment the audiogram information. For students who use assistive listening devices (i.e. FM system), equipment is available on loan on a temporary basis.

Student Responsibilities

  • Attendance: Students must assume responsibility for notifying the interpreter/reporter and SDS when there is a sudden illness or late arrival, exams dates and when services are/are not required.
  • No Show: by definition a student who misses class without prior notification or communication with the interpreter/captioner and SDS. Interpreters/captioners will wait 20/30 minutes from the start of the scheduled assignment.
  • Irregular Attendance: Irregular attendance patterns may result in an interruption of services
  • Scheduling Changes (class absence, room change, cancellation): send an email message to the vendor, copy Associate Director, SDS ( as soon as you learn of any change or call the main number at 215-573-9235 or TDD number 215-74-6320.
  • Additional interpreting requests once approved (e.g., review session, seminar, other curricular event): provide a minimum 72 hour advanced notice email request to the vendor and copy State the purpose of the request and include a brief description and other relevant information (i.e., date, time, location, length, additional materials). Even when all the details are not yet known, for example, a professor announces in Thursday's class a review the following Tuesday but location and time have not been determined, submit your request right away.
  • Reporting Interpreter Absence/Tardiness: Please email the vendor and copy Associate Director, SDS ( IMMEDIATELY should an interpreter miss or arrive late to an assignment.
  • Offering feedback to Interpreter/Reporter: The interpreter/reporter is responsible for providing an accurate translation of spoken information in the classroom. Working with interpreters and reporters/captioners requires ongoing communication and collaboration.
  • Ideally, meet the new interpreter/reporter prior to class. Continue to offer constructive feedback about their work and your expectations for particular assignments.
  • If you are not satisfied with an interpreter/reporter's work, discuss the matter with the reporter/interpreter directly. You can make an appointment to schedule a meeting at SDS. In addition, share your concerns with the Associate Director, SDS.
  • Bring any unresolved concerns at any time to the immediate attention of the Associate Director.
  • Confidentiality: Interpreters abide by the Code of Ethics as delineated by the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and reporters as delineated by the National Court Reporter Association (NCRA). When necessary per university policies, interpreters/captioners may communicate confidential work-related information with appropriate administrators in SDS. University policy/ies allow for communication of confidential work-related information with appropriate administrators in SDS.

SDS Responsibilities

  • Determine and approve appropriate auxiliary services requested by a student on an individual basis through the self-identification process.
  • Discuss and review policies and procedures with students.
  • Contract professional interpreters/reporters who freelance or who are hired through local referral organizations and companies.
  • Provide professors and academic staff educational information regarding the role of interpreter/reporter in class.

Sign Language Interpreter/CART Reporter Responsibilities

  • Provide accurate information and professional services.
  • Represent the highest standards of the profession by adhering to the Code of Ethics as delineated by the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and National Court Reporter Association (NCRA).
  • Inform students (email messages, copy SDS) in the event of illness or emergency and arrange for substitution.
  • Inform appropriate parties in timely manner when delayed or unable to fulfill assignments.
  • Seek feedback from students and faculty.
  • Prepare and maintain through advance preparation course materials and consultation with resources, including faculty and students.
  • Facilitate student participation in classroom discussions by relaying questions or answers and related interaction.

Professor/Academic Staff Personnel/TA Responsibilities

  • Permit the use of auxiliary services to ensure students with hearing impairments are provided appropriate opportunities to equally participate and enjoy the benefits of educational programs and activities within the course.
  • Consider that interpreters/reporters provide communication access with benefits for everyone
  • Remember that interpreters and real-time reporters are highly trained professionals who have undergone extensive training and have passed national certification standards.

Equipment Loan

SDS provides services, accommodations and loan of equipment for Penn students enrolled in degree bearing programs with a documented hearing loss. A student provides documentation of a hearing loss (i.e., audiogram) for review followed by a discussion with the Associate Director regarding the system currently used by the student.

Student Responsibilities

  • Student contacts SDS to borrow an ALD system.
  • Student replaces FM system batteries, as needed
  • Student uses ALD system responsibly and returns the system in good working condition at the end of the loan period
  • Student is responsible for replacing the unit or reimbursing SDS for repairs or cost of a new unit if the FM system is lost or damaged.

Student Classroom Responsibilities

  • Meet the instructor before class to demonstrate the system.
  • Bring equipment to class
  • Arrive early or on time in order to avoid delay
  • Maintain and care properly for equipment to prevent damage, loss, destruction