Students' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) is Southern Miss’s designated office to verify students’ eligibility for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). SAS assists eligible students on an individual basis to develop and coordinate plans for the implementation of reasonable accommodations that are specific to their disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are offered in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) assists students with learning disabilities (reading, writing, and math), mobility impairments, systemic or chronic illnesses and injuries, psychiatric impairments (including anxiety and depression), ADHD or ADD, hearing impairments, visual impairments, temporary disabilities and pregnancies.
Students with disabilities must apply for admission to USM through the regular admissions procedure. There are no special admissions procedures to register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). We can answer general questions but for specific entrance requirements, please contact the Admissions office at 601.266.5000 or admissionsFREEMississippi.
Yes, both Gulf Coast and online students can receive accommodations from Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Please see question number five (5) for how to request accommodations.
To request accommodations students should complete our online application, submit documentation of their diagnosis, and attend an intake appointment with our office.
2. Submit documentation of a disability diagnosis to our office. Documentation may be uploaded online when completing the application. Alternatively, it may be sent after completing our application in the following ways: email at sasFREEMississippi%2C fax to 601.266.6035, delivered in person to the SAS offices on the Hattiesburg campus (Bond Hall, room 114), or mailed to the following address:
Student Accessibility Services
118 College Drive, Box #8586
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
For more information on documentation, please see question number seven (7) and question number eight (8).
3. Once approved, students will be contacted directly via USM email and phone to schedule an intake appointment with our office.
Students may register with SAS at any time during their academic career at USM. Students must first be fully enrolled at USM to register with SAS.
It is recommended that incoming freshmen and transfer students register with SAS before
their first semester classes begin.
If you are requesting a housing accommodation, it is recommended to contact our office as soon as you are eligible to register for housing.
The documentation should be a letter (Five  years old or less) from a certified medical provider that states the disability diagnosis, any medications taken and any recommended accommodations, such as extended test time for exams. The medical documentation should be typed, on the doctor's letterhead and signed/dated by your doctor.
If you have a learning disability in a specific area (such as reading, writing, math, etc.) we will need your test scores and full psychometry report that is no more than 3 years old.
While IEPs or 504 Plans can be useful for our office in determining reasonable accommodations for students, our office does not accept either in lieu of documentation from a certified medical provider.
Please contact our office if you need further clarification on this.
Students who are 18 years old or older are legally recognized as adults. In this case, the student is responsible for their own accommodation requests and disability-related decisions. However, students are encouraged to have an open dialog with their parents. Parents can be a wonderful source of support.
Academic accommodations include, but are not limited to, extended test-taking time, ASL interpreters, captioning, notetaking services, readers, alternative formats of course materials, preferential seating and assistive technology. SAS also assists students with housing accommodations.
To request an accommodation to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in campus housing, please complete the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) Online Application and submit documentation from your medical provider that states the diagnosis for which an ESA is needed and how having an ESA will be of benefit. For questions or more information, contact SAS at 601.266.5024 or sasFREEMississippi.
Please note that ESAs by federal law are not service animals. They should not wear an identifying service animal vest. If you are wish to bring a service animal to campus, you do not have to register with SAS but you can contact our office if you need any clarification regarding your service animals or other accommodation needs you have.
What is the Difference between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
As defined by the US Department of Justice, a service animal is a dog, and in some cases, a miniature horse, that has been individually trained to perform a specific task, or tasks, for those with disabilities. There are no restrictions on the breed or size of a service dog. With an exception for reasonable health and safety issues, service animals may accompany their handler to any environment in which the general public is allowed. Service animals are not required to be registered or certified by any entity and handlers are not required to submit documentation indicating the animal is a service animal. They are also not required to wear identifying service animal vest or to carry a service animal license.
Service animals are NOT pets and should not be treated as such. Service animals are working animals and must be able to focus on their jobs. Service animals should not be petted, played with, or fed without the express permission of the handler.
Emotional Support Animals
Unlike services animals, emotional support animals are not recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead, they are recognized by the Federal Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. This means that emotional support animals or comfort animals are allowed in campus housing but are not allowed, as are service animals, access to public spaces, except public spaces also available to pets. Emotional support animals can also accompany owners on airplanes. Also, unlike service animals, people with emotional support animals are required to submit, to Student Disability Services, documentation from a qualified medical professional confirming a disability-related need for an emotional support animal.
ESAs are also known as comfort or assistance animal and they provide companionship, comfort, and may help to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Emotional support animals are not limited to dogs, as are service animals. Emotional support animals can be any animal that does not create a danger or hazard to the living environment or to those residing in the living environment.
Where can a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) be excluded?
Service animals and emotional support animals or comfort animals can only be excluded from an allowable environment if:
- The handler is not in full control of the animal. A service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in a public place, except when the use of such hinders or interferes with the duties of the service animal. In these situations, the handler must use voice commands, hand signals, or other means to control the animal. Handlers may not allow the animal to wander an environment.
- The animal is disruptive or out of control and the handler does not take action to control the animal’s behavior. Examples of disruptive behavior include excessive barking and/or whining, damaging the property of the University or others, and threatening behavior including growling, snapping, or lunging.
- The animal is not house trained.
- The animal poses a health or safety risk in a particular environment. For instance, a service animal may be allowed in a patient’s hospital room but not in a surgical suite or it may be allowed on the deck of a public pool but not in the pool itself.
- The presence of a service animal or emotional support/comfort animal fundamentally alters a program or environment. In most settings, a service animal will not create a fundamental alteration of a program or environment. For example, a service animal may create a fundamental alteration if a residence hall has set aside an area specifically for students who have allergies to dogs.
More information about service animals and emotional support/comfort animals can be found at the links below:
Registration for disability accommodations is optional for students.
SAS encourages students with disabilities who need accommodations to register as soon as possible.
You can log into your myAccess account at https://cascade.accessiblelearning.com/usm/default.aspx using your student ID # (w123456 or w12345678) and your SOAR/Canvas password. If you have forgotten your password, please reset at CampusID (https://campusid.usm.edu/). If you have any further technical issues logging into your myAccess account, please contact SAS at 601.266.5024 or sasFREEMississippi.
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) respects students’ privacy and keeps information related to students’ disability confidential. Communication with other campus offices or instructors is limited to providing guidance on how to implement approved accommodations. With a student’s permission or request, SAS will consult with parents, spouses, faculty, staff and relevant professionals. SAS does not disclose information about a student’s disability or the nature of the disability unless the student specifically requests SAS to do so. Student records are kept electronically encrypted and only SAS staff have access.
Students may request that more information be shared with parents or spouses by completing a FERPA Consent Form. For questions about FERPA or the FERPA Consent Form, please contact the University Registrar's Office at 601.266.5006 or registrarFREEMississippi. The completed FERPA Consent Form should be sent to the University Registrar's Office directly.
Instructors of record for your courses (professor listed in SOAR for the course) are notified via email of your accommodations. The email will contain a list of all the approved accommodations.
If you are registered with SAS, letters are sent in the weeks before the start of a semester. If you register after the beginning of the semester, your accommodations are emailed out after your intake appointment which completes your registration. You will be copied on any accommodation emails that are sent to your professors. These can be found on your USM email account (@usm.edu).
If you believe that a letter was not sent to your professor or your professor says that they have not received your letter, please contact our offices immediately at 601.266.5024 or sasFREEMississippi.
If you change your course schedule after your accommodation letters have been sent out or you come back to USM after taking a Fall or Spring semester off, be sure to contact our office letting us know this information. If you do not contact our office to inform us of these events, your professors may not be notified of your accommodations.
No, class attendance policies are determined by the department or the instructor of record, and class attendance is an expectation of all Southern Miss students. A statement regarding consideration for disability-related absences or tardiness may be added to your letter of accommodations, but it is only to alert the instructor that the student may have to miss class.
If you are absent due to your disability, please contact the Office of Student Outreach and Support. This office will authenticate your doctor’s excuse and provide official Notices of Absences to your professors. Your professor will make the final decision regarding the Notice of Absence. To reach the Office of Student Outreach and Support, please contact them directly at 601.266.4025 or email them at ososFREEMississippi.
Some accommodations which may have been granted in K-12 are not appropriate or suitable for a collegiate environment. Some examples of requests which cannot be granted by SAS are:
- Study Guides
While this accommodation is granted in K-12 it is not appropriate in higher education although on occasion individual instructors may provide students study guides. Studying efficiently and effectively is an acquired skill which can be learned through working with several different resources on campus. It is recommended for students to refer to our up-to-date Academic Help and Tutoring List. for assistance with this. We encourage participation with these services early in the semester for maximum benefit.
- Extended Deadlines on Assignments
This is considered an alteration of an essential element of a course, so it is not granted by ODA. Given the condensed nature of college courses as compared to high school (16 weeks vs. year) due dates and timing of assignments outside of the classroom are extremely important. Sometimes extensions are needed and our office recommends students reach out the instructors directly to request an extension before an assignment is due. Some professors are open to extensions on a limited basis, others are not.
Students having difficulty meeting deadlines should work with the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program for assistance with time management. Students registered with our office automatically qualify for this free program.
- Alternative Assignments, Reduced Assignment Length, Reduced Reading Load
These course alterations of essential elements of a course are not accommodations granted by SAS. Students should work with instructors directly to see if any of these are a possibility.
- Assistance with Assignments
SAS does not assist with any form of editing, proofreading, or organizing. This is considered a personal service, which higher education institutions do not have to provide. Help is available to all students via Library Services, the Writing Center, the Speaking Center, and many other resources outlined in our Academic Help and Tutoring List.
- Alternative Testing Methods
Any modification that is considered a change in form (such as essay to multiple choice or vice versa) is not granted by SAS as it is considered fundamental alteration of a course. Minor changes such as scantron assistance, colored paper, paper-based exams, computer for essay questions, or large-print are accommodations that may be granted. Essentially changes cannot interfere with the content that the instructor is trying to assess.
If your instructor has asked your class for a volunteer note-taker, please let them know that you would like to volunteer and complete the online Note-Taker Registration Form.
Volunteer note-takers are eligible for community service hours. If you volunteer to take notes and wish to get documentation confirming your community service hours, please contact our office directly.
The SAS office is located on the Hattiesburg campus on the first floor of Bond Hall in room 114. You may enter the office via an accessible wheelchair ramp on the south side of the building which faces the parking lot behind the Bobby Chain Building. You may also enter our office through the entrance on the north side the building facing the 4th Street parking garage. There is an accessible wheelchair ramp and also stairs at the north side entrance.
SAS is open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. We are closed for university holidays. To access this schedule, please check the HR Holiday schedule webpage: https://www.usm.edu/employment-human-resources/holiday-schedule.php.