Student Disability Access Office (SDAO)

The Student Disability Access Office (SDAO) is the office on campus that has been charged with and is committed to providing educational opportunities for students with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The SDAO uses a multifaceted team-based approach to determine eligibility for services and accommodations to qualified first-year students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well as graduate and professional students. Our goal is to provide and coordinate  accommodations that enable students with disabilities to have equal access to all Duke University programs and activities. Services and accommodations are provided to students with a variety of disabilities including, but not limited to, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders, blindness/low vision, deafness/hard of hearing, learning disabilities, mobility and chronic health, psychological disorders (including Autism Spectrum disorders), and other impairments.

At Duke, the SDAO works with students and the school to determine eligibility for accommodations during their graduate studies. The Nicholas School liaison who works with students and SDAO is Assistant Dean Cynthia Peters,, 919-613-8071. Students are welcome to contact her for more information but to start the process, please follow the registration process provided by SDAO. Please note that Duke makes its own determinations and just because you received accommodation at another school does not guarantee you the same accommodation for your graduate studies at Duke.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Who is a student with a disability?

A student with a disability is one who has an impairment or condition that substantially limits or restricts one or more major life activities.

2.  What types of accommodations are available?

All accommodations and services are individualized and based on the student’s impairment and limitations. Current documentation from the student’s medical provider showing the student’s functional limitations as well as recommendation for necessary accommodations is reviewed. If necessary, the SDAO will consult with expert consultants who specialize in the individual’s impairment or condition to determine the most reasonable accommodation(s). Academic, as well as non-academic, accommodations are provided through the SDAO. We also provide a variety of assistive technologies such as assistive listening devices and books in alternative formats to students qualifying for services.

3.  When should I submit my materials to the SDAO?

Students who wish to seek accommodations due to a medical condition need to register with the Student Disability Access Office to receive formal accommodations. To register with SDAO, please refer to the guidelines provided below:

  • The next step is to submit full and current documentation. There is not a designated form for your provider to complete.  Medical documentation should address the student’s disability, as well as recommendations about what accommodations are appropriate in light of the diagnosed condition.  Documentation guidelines are available on the SDAO website. These guidelines can be shared with medical providers.  Please use the following link to access documentation guidelines
  • Documentation may be submitted in various ways:  online along with your request form online; emailed to; faxed to (919) 668-3977; or mailed to my attention at the Student Disability Access Office, 402 Oregon Street, Suite 102, Box 90142, Durham, NC 27708. 

4.  What happens after SDAO receives your documentation?

As soon as SDAO receives your request form and documentation, they will begin their process of determining if your impairment rises to the level of a disability for purposes of the ADA and ADA Amendments Act.  Completed files, which include requests and documentation, are reviewed in the order in which they are received.  As they make every attempt to review files as quickly as possible, during high–volume times, this process may take up to four weeks.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to call the office at (919) 668-1267.

5.  Where is the SDAO located?

Our offices are located in an accessible location at 402 Oregon Street, Suite 102. You may reach the SDAO Director by calling 919-668-1267 or by emailing

Schedule A Visit
  • We’d love for you to schedule a time to discuss and explore possible accommodations. Call 919-668-1267.


Need an ADA resource/contact within the Nicholas School of the Environment?