Guiding Principles

Our staff recognizes the importance of intersectionality and the diverse experiences of all students. We recognize the historic and systemic disparities that exist within our healthcare systems and society at large. We further understand that these disparities often have adverse and unintended consequences that further marginalize populations. We recognize these disparities exist among our student population and can directly affect a student’s ability to provide documentation of a disability. We are committed to working with every student to find appropriate and creative ways of ensuring access in every aspect of their Cornell experience. 

Our Principles 

Disability is Diversity 

Disability is a natural part of human variation and an aspect of diversity. 

Ableism has no place at Cornell.  

Our national history of ableism has long led to discrimination against people with disabilities. This discrimination is systemic in the very policies and structures that, historically, individuals have been required to navigate in order to access care and accommodations. To address this, we operate under a model in line with the Disability Justice movement and the Ten Principles of Disability Justice.  

All students should have equal access. 

We are committed to equalizing access to accommodations and support for all students.  

We recognize that universal design is an integral part of inclusion. We support the campus community in creating a universally accessible Cornell experience. 

Everyone is an individual and is an expert on their own experience. 

Every situation warrants its own consideration. We recognize that not everyone has the privilege of documentation or a formal diagnosis. We use information about your lived experience when determining accommodations.  

Confidentiality is a right.  

We do not share information about your disability or your other identities without your explicit permission.  

Our Principles in Action 

We operate using a social justice model of providing accommodations. As we work with you to determine accommodations, our interactive process emphasizes intersectionality and your lived experiences.     

We will not “medicalize” the process of seeking accommodations. No law requires that documentation be provided when requesting accommodations. A lack of documentation should not be a barrier. You can make an appointment to discuss your needs whether or not you have a medical or mental health diagnosis. 

We will work with you throughout your time at Cornell to ensure that you are receiving appropriate accommodations. Your accommodation plan can be revisited at any time. 

You are not required to disclose any personal information to staff or faculty outside of our office in order to receive your accommodations. Faculty or staff who have questions or concerns can be directed to speak with our office. We will only communicate information about your accommodations to the necessary staff/faculty who will be implementing them. We disclose personal information about you only with your explicit consent and only if necessary. 

We advocate for policy changes at an institutional level to move Cornell toward universal access and inclusion.