For college students, unexpected injuries, or even anticipated surgeries, can really throw a wrench into everyday routines, which can cause confusion about what to do next. This information is provided to help alleviate some of the stress associated with upper and lower body injuries/surgeries/treatments that require changing routines and/or expectations of self or others.

Inform your professors of your condition and what effect you think it might have on meeting attendance or other class requirements. Communication with instructors is very important to ensure clear expectations from both sides. Urgent messages can be sent by email, but be sure to follow up with a conversation. Things to discuss include possibly modifying due dates for assignments or exams, your ability to take exams or do lab work, and what support you will need to do so.

Talk with your College Advising Office if the injury is severe and will affect several aspects of life at Cornell. You may need to reduce your course load or, worst case scenario, arrange for a leave of absence. Advising staff can help by informing instructors about your situation and requesting academic consideration on your behalf, although the details are still up to you and your professor to work out.

Call on your personal network of friends and classmates to help you out. You might ask them to carry your bag, share their class notes with you, get sick tray meals from the dining hall, help you with laundry, or tie your shoes. You never know when one of them may end up in a similar situation and you will be able to support them.

If you are taking a PE class and can no longer fully participate or if you’ll miss too many classes, discuss alternatives with the instructor or, if after the drop deadline, petition to withdraw from the course in person with the Physical Education staff only in 305 Helen Newman Hall.

Dining Hall staff will assist you with your tray, if needed. Just ask.

Especially for Upper Body Injuries

  • If your injury affects your ability to write or type, Dragon Naturally Speaking is speech‐to‐text software available for PC or Mac that allows you to speak into a microphone and have the software type what you are saying. It needs to be trained, so may take a little practice, but it can be very helpful especially for essays and papers. Before you buy, you can try it out in Mann or Olin libraries. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • TakeNote is a notetaking resource for some classes.
  • Borrow notes from classmates.
  • Use a recording device to record lectures (but do let your professor know that you are recording).
  • Check out the LiveScribe smartpen (a great tool for anyone).
  • If you can type faster than you can write, use your laptop for taking notes. Ask for the instructor’s permission, if needed.

Especially for Lower Body Injuries

  • If you live on campus and are unable to climb stairs required to get to your room, contact the Housing Office at 607‐255‐9765 or
  • 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.
    NOTE: 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, such as taking the bus or calling a cab.
  • You want to use accessible parking spaces at Cornell. We approve students for accessible parking. Campus parking passes are purchased at the Commuter and Parking Services office.
  • You would like to create an emergency evacuation plan.

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

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.