The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD) serves primarily deaf students with disabilities. Disability groups most frequently served by OSWD include students with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, deaf-blind or low vision, psychological disabilities, neuro-muscular disorders, and chronic disabilities.

OSWD provides individually tailored, comprehensive support services and programs for students with disabilities. OSWD empowers eligible students to succeed in their pursuit of higher education by striving to assure equal access and opportunity to curricular and extra-curricular activities. Supporting the ideal of life-long learning, OSWD encourages and provides experiences and opportunities to build confidence beyond the classroom.

Student autonomy is encouraged through the provision of reasonable accommodations, academic support groups, self-advocacy, and student advisory boards. OSWD employs a student-centered interactive model in which collaboration among professionals and OSWD students results in a nondiscriminatory academic environment.

In addition, OSWD provides professional development services and programs for faculty and staff and for community-based professionals.

OSWD serves several roles for Gallaudet University. Through collaborative efforts with other departments and units, OSWD arranges accommodations and special services for students with disabilities. In addition, OSWD serves as a source of information regarding legal issues pertaining to disabilities and accommodations. OSWD also plans workshop trainings for students and faculty alike.

The University as a whole has an obligation and responsibility to ensure equal access to students with disabilities, be it in the classroom, dormitory, or campus facilities. All faculty and staff employed by the University have a professional and ethical duty to comply with Federal Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and its later amendments, to provide accommodations and special services to students identified as having disabilities.

OSWD is only one representative among many student-based support services. All accommodations and special services rendered to students with disabilities are the result of collaborative efforts between various departments cooperating to meet the needs of students with disabilities.