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Distance Education

The Office of Disability Services will assist students with appropriate accommodations for online courses taken through Geneseo or other institutions.  Contact ODS (, 585-245-5112) to request assistance.

Foreign Language

In accordance with the State University of New York's policy on Foreign Language Students will demonstrate:

  1. Basic proficiency in the understanding and use of a foreign language.
  2. Knowledge of the distinctive features of culture(s) associated with the language they are studying,
    and with SUNY Geneseo's mission as a public liberal arts college, the college requires competency in a foreign language for all students through the 201 level.

New York State neither waives, nor allows substitutions for, the foreign language requirement for students pursuing NYS teacher certification. SUNY Geneseo supports this decision by the state and feels that it is equally important for all Geneseo students, including students who were exempted from foreign language in high school due to a disability, to develop a depth of understanding of non-English speaking peoples and their language that cannot be achieved solely through taking courses in foreign cultures.

This decision was made with due deliberation and serious consideration of the burden this may place on students, especially students with auditory or learning disabilities. We also recognize that some students with disabilities may need support in completing the requirement, and, therefore, SUNY Geneseo is willing to provide such support for students with documentation that evidences a language-based disability that may interfere with success in foreign language.

There are a number of ways for a student to satisfy the requirement. Please speak with an advisor in the Office of the Dean to further investigate the different available options.


SUNY Geneseo will consider reasonable housing accommodations for students with disabilities. The deadline for requesting modified housing accommodations is April 1st of each year for continuing students and July 1st for first year students (freshmen/women or transfer students) entering in the Fall semester.

The student will indicate on the housing application form his/her intent to request housing accommodations, and send documentation to the Office of Disability Services (do not send documentation to the Residence Life office). Each case will be individually evaluated annually with respect to the documentation presented and the accommodations requested. In addition, a housing application must be on file with Residence Life.

When the documentation shows that a private room or other room modification is a necessary method of meeting the housing needs of a student with a disability, SUNY Geneseo will consider exceptions to its general room rate structure unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the housing program. In order for the student with a disability to be approved to receive a private room, he/she must provide sufficient documentation completed by a qualified professional showing the need for the modification directly related to the impact of the disability. In general, a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD or Learning Disabilities is not sufficient for obtaining a single room.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals

A "service animal" means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, or psychiatric disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the person's disability. The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition. Species other than dogs or, in some cases, miniature horses, are not considered service animals for the purpose of this definition of a service animal.

Service animals will be permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of Geneseo’s facilities, including Residence Halls, where students, members of the public, and other participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go. Geneseo does not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Individuals accompanied by a service animal on campus but who do not need any disability-related accommodations are not required to register with the Office of Disability Services, nor is such individual required to submit a request for a reasonable accommodation to receive access of his or her service animal.

Additionally, Geneseo cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability to determine whether a person's animal qualifies as a service animal. However, when it is not readily apparent that a dog is a service animal, staff may make two inquiries to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service animal, which are:

(1) Is the dog required because of a disability?

(2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

A service animal must be housebroken (i.e., trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident) and must be kept under control by a harness, leash, or other tether. Geneseo will assess requests for the use of miniature horses by people with disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Requests should be submitted to the Office of Disability Services and, consistent with applicable laws, Geneseo may make modifications in its policies to permit their use if they meet certain criteria and have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of people with disabilities.


A "pet" is any animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. Service animals and Emotional Support Animals as defined herein, are not considered pets. Pets are generally prohibited indoors on the Geneseo campus.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

An “emotional support animal" (or comfort animal) is an animal that provides emotional or other support that ameliorates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Unlike service animals, support animals are not required to be trained to perform work or tasks, and they include species other than dogs and miniature horses.

ESA are generally not allowed to accompany persons with disabilities in all public areas of Geneseo as a service animal is allowed to do, but an ESA may reside in the Residence Halls when it may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing. Before an ESA can move into the Residence Halls with a person with a disability, a request must be submitted to Geneseo’s Office of Disability Services and approval must be granted (preferably at least 30 days prior to move in). Students are limited to one ESA per student. If the disability is not obvious, the ODS may require documentation from a mental health provider or other mental health professional, to provide sufficient information for Geneseo to determine:

  • that the individual qualifies as a person with a disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities); and

  • that the ESA may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Residential living (i.e. that the animal would provide emotional support that ameliorates one or more symptoms or effects of the disability).

While ESA are generally not allowed indoors on Geneseo’s campus other than in Residence Halls, people with disabilities may request approval from the Office of Disability Services to have the ESA accompany them to other campus areas.

Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis consistent with applicable laws.

Responsibilities of People With Disabilities Using Service or Emotional Support Animals

Geneseo is not responsible for the care or supervision of service or emotional support animals. People with

disabilities are responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of their animals, including:

  • compliance with any laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, and owner identification;
  • keeping the animal under control and taking effective action when it is out of control; and
  • feeding and walking the animal, and disposing of its waste.

For specific campus areas designated by Geneseo for toileting service animals contact the Office of Disability Services. Waste disposal via campus plumbing is prohibited in Residence Halls, but the ODS or Residential Life office can provide guidance on where to appropriately dispose of animal waste.

Geneseo will not require any surcharges or fees for Service Animals or ESA. However, a person with a disability may be charged for damage caused by an animal to the same extent that Geneseo would normally charge a person for the damage they cause.

People with disabilities who are accompanied by animals must comply with the same campus rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities.

Exceptions and Exclusions

Geneseo may pose some restrictions on, and may even exclude, an ESA in certain instances. As noted above, ESA are generally not allowed indoors on Geneseo’s campus other than in Residence Halls. Persons with disabilities may request approval from the ODS to have the ESA accompany them to other campus areas as a reasonable accommodation. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis consistent with applicable laws. Any animal may be excluded from an area in which it was previously authorized to be if:

  • it is out of control and effective action is not taken to control it;
  • it is not housebroken (or in the case of a support animal that deposits waste in a designated cage or litter box, the owner fails to clean such cage or box such that the cleanliness of the room is not maintained); or
  • it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

In considering whether a Service Animal or ESA poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, Geneseo will make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment, current medical knowledge, or the best available objective evidence, to determine: (1) the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; (2) the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and (3) whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services, will mitigate the risk. The College President shall name a designee who shall provide a written statement of explanation to any person with a disability if a determination is made that the presence of that person's Service or Emotional Support Animal would fundamentally alter the nature of a program, service, or activity.

In the event that restriction or removal of an animal is determined to be necessary, the person with a disability will still be given the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the assistance animal present.

The above provisions on restrictions and exclusions is not intended to cover modifications to reasonable accommodations. The reasonable accommodation process and modifications to reasonable accommodations are covered under Geneseo’s policy on Accessing Services.

Guidelines for Members of the Geneseo Community

To ensure equal access and nondiscrimination of people with disabilities, members of the Geneseo community must abide by the following practices:

  • Allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities on campus;
  • Do not ask for details about a person's disabilities;
  • Do not pet service animals without the handler’s consent, as it distracts the animal from its work;
  • Do not feed a service animal;
  • Do not deliberately startle, tease, or taunt a service animal; and
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from his/her service animal.

If you have a disability that may be affected by the presence of animals, please contact the Office of Disability Services. Geneseo is committed to ensuring that the needs of all people with disabilities are met and will determine how to resolve any conflicts or problems as expeditiously as possible.

Grievance Procedure

Procedures for filing an internal or external Grievance or Appeal can be found at:

Additional Resources

United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738

Telephone (800) 514-0301 (voice)  or (800) 514-0383 (TDD)


For guidance on complaints contact:

Coordination and Review Section
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66118
Washington, D.C. 20035-6118

New York State

New York State
Office of Advocate for Persons with Disabilities
One Empire State Plaza Suite 1001
Albany, New York 12223-1150

State Advocate
telephone (518) 473-4129
(800) 522 4369
fax (518) 473 6005

Office of the New York State Attorney General
New York State Department of Law Civil Rights Bureau
120 Broadway 23rd Floor
New York, New York 10271

Assistant Attorney General in Charge
Telephone (212) 416-8250(voice) or (800) 788-9898 (TDD)


Applicable Laws


  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et. seq. and its implementing regulations 28 C.F. R. Title I
  • Title II Part 35 (state and local entities and public transportation)l;  and Title III (public accommodations),  Part 36, especially §§36.104 and 36.302 (c) (1).

New York State:

  • NY Civil Rights Law §40c and §40d & §§ 47 to 47-c
  • NY Executive (Human Rights) Law §§ 292 and 296
  • NY Transportation Law § 147