Unexpected injuries, or even anticipated surgeries, can cause confusion about what to do next. The information provided here offers tips and strategies to help manage the impact of your injury on your academic and campus routine. 

Inform your professors of your condition and what effect you think it might have on meeting attendance or other class requirements (such as exams and deadlines). Communication with instructors is very important to ensure clear expectations from both sides. If you send an urgent messages via email, be sure to follow up with a conversation. 

Talk with your College Advising Office as they can help by informing instructors about your situation and requesting academic considerations on your behalf, although the details are still up to you and your professor to work out. When other options have been exhausted, the Advising office can help you determine whether a reduced course load or leave of absence may be necessary. 

Call on your personal network of friends and classmates to help you out. They can be a valuable resource during your recovery and provide you with assistance such as: copies of class notes, personal assistance, transportation to classes/appointments, and/or getting take-out meals from dining halls (your RA can also assist with obtaining take-out meals).   

Consider whether you can still participate in your PE class or if you’ll miss too many classes, and discuss alternatives with the instructor. If your injury occurs after the drop deadline, you could petition to withdraw from the course in person with the Physical Education staff in 305 Helen Newman Hall.

Ask dining staff for assistance if you need help ordering your meal and/or getting to the seating area. You can ask any dining staff for assistance. If you are unable to visit a dining facility, many locations offer ordering online, and can be picked up by a peer.

Tips Especially for Upper Body Injuries

  • If your injury affects your ability to write or type, you may be able to use your existing technology to dictate text into a word document, email, or chat message. Speech dictation software is available on a PC or Mac (instructions on how to turn on speech dictation on for a PC, and instructions for Mac speech dictation). 
  • TakeNote is a notetaking resource for some classes.
  • You can borrow notes from classmates, or consult with your professor or TA.
  • Use a recording device to record lectures (do let your professor know that you are recording).
  • If you can type faster than you can write, use your laptop for taking notes. Ask for the instructor’s permission, if needed.

Tips Especially for Lower Body Injuries

  • If you live either on or off campus and are unable to climb stairs required to get to your room, contact the Housing Office at 607-255-5368 or housing@cornell.edu to discuss options.
  • Most TCAT buses are able to “kneel” to reduce the amount of effort it takes to get on the bus, making it a viable option for many. TCAT bus passes can be purchased online, at the Cornell Store, and at the Cornell Commuter and Parking Services office at 116 Maple Avenue, as well as Tops and Wegmans.
    • TCAT offers an ADA paratransit service for who those who are having trouble accessing the bus due to a disability. This is especially useful for individuals who live off campus and rely on the TCAT to get to campus.
  • The Finger Lakes Independence Center has a loan closet with resources such as wheelchairs and shower stools that can be borrowed for a nominal fee.

Contact Student Disability Services when:

  • An instructor tells you that they need input or guidance from SDS about academic accommodations.
  • You have classes in a classroom that you cannot get to due to your injury.
  • Ambulating around campus is difficult, especially if you have little time between classes (review SDS transportation options).
    NOTE: An intake appointment with SDS is necessary to arrange transportation accommodations. We are NOT able to provide rides to classes the day of your injury or on a Monday if the injury occurred over the weekend. You will need to make alternate arrangements.
  • You want to use accessible parking spaces at Cornell. Accessible parking passes can be purchased from Cornell's Commuter and Parking Services office, but must be approved by SDS first. Accessible parking passes will not be issued by Commuter and Parking Services without a letter from SDS. 
  • You would like to create an emergency evacuation plan for your on-campus residence or classes.
  • If you need a laptop for taking an exam. If possible, please contact SDS at least two business days prior to your exam date. 

NOTE: SDS will need medical documentation from your health care provider. See our Documentation Guidelines for Temporary Disabilities.

Student Disability Services cannot assist with:

  • Helping students with writing homework assignments or personal tasks.
  • Informing instructors that deadlines or requirements must be changed because of an injury.
  • Transportation to off-campus medical or physical therapy appointments.