Language Requirement Petition Guidelines

The majority of disabled students at Dartmouth successfully complete the language requirement. However, a few students with disabilities each quarter petition for and, if warranted due to their disability, are granted a language waiver or substitution.

Timeframe & Overview of Eligible Students

Students with disabilities that significantly impact language acquisition may petition for a waiver ('25s and earlier) or substitution ('26s and after) of the requirement. Per ORC guidelines, all students should complete the language requirement or be approved for a waiver/substitution before the end of their 7th quarter.

Students who are granted waivers/substitutions tend to have auditory and/or orthographic processing, learning, speech/language, and/or related disorders. To be considered for a waiver/substitution, students who are not registered with SAS need to apply and submit documentation to Student Accessibility Services regarding their language learning aptitude. Key measures to assess language learning aptitude, especially for students with learning disorders, are described below. This level of assessment is generally not required for a student who is D/deaf or hard of hearing, who will want to refer to our documentation guidelines for D/deafness or hard of hearing. Alternatively, our documentation guidelines regarding auditory processing disorders may be more relevant to students with these conditions than the tests listed below. Medical and other forms of documentation that highlight impacts of a disability on language acquisition may also be relevant.

If you are already registered with SAS and have submitted documentation related to your difficulties with language acquisition, SAS will review that documentation and any new information you submit as part of your language waiver/substitution petition.

Recommended Documentation

Effective documentation should include objective measures of listening, speaking, reading/spelling, and writing as well as the cognitive processes that underlie them. If you are being evaluated and plan to apply for a language waiver/substitution at Dartmouth, please share this page with potential evaluators in advance of scheduling, and verify that they have access to and are familiar administering the types of tests below. This list is provided to highlight examples of tests that are likely to be appropriate as part of an evaluation; however, not all tests are required to be adminstered: 

  • Memory
    • WAIS-IV: Digit Span, Letter-Number Sequencing, WMI
    • WJ IV: Story Recall, Understanding Directions, Sentence Repetition
    • PASAT: Auditory memory/attention + processing speed + cognitive load (calculation)
    • CVLT-3: verbal memory
    • WRAML-2 (Story Memory Recall, Verbal Learning Recall, Sentence Memory)
  • Phonological Processing
    • CTOPP-2: Clusters -> Phonological Awareness; Phonological Memory; Rapid Naming, Segmenting Nonwords and Blending Nonwords
    • WJ IV: Spelling of Sounds, Sound Awareness, Sound Blending, Visual Auditory Learning
  • Expressive / Receptive Language
    • TOAL-4: spoken and written language subtests
    • WJ IV: Oral Comprehension, Oral Vocabulary
    • WIAT-4 (Oral Expression, Listening Comprehension)
    • PPVT-5
    • COWAT
    • CELF-5 Formulated Sentences, Recalling Sentences, Word Structure
  • Language Learning Ability
    • MLAT
    • TLC-E (level 2)
    • WJ IV Visual-Auditory Learning
  • Reading (in addition to above-mentioned batteries, GORT-5 and TOWRE-2 may be appropriate)
    • pseudoword decoding
    • single-word reading
    • reading in context
    • comprehension
  • Writing
    • handwriting (VMI-6 VMI, Visual Perception, and Motor Coordination subtests; and informal observations of grip, letter/word formation)
    • spelling
    • grammar/syntax
    • written formulation (TOWL-4)

Personal Statement

Often challenges learning one's primary language and secondary or even tertiary languages are linked (Scott & Manglitz, 1997), and students who experience difficulties acquiring a second language may have been delayed in learning to speak and/or engaged in speech therapy related to their primary language. Moreover, students may have had learning challenges in reading, spelling, and grammar. Please include these details in the your personal statement for the petition form provided by SAS, as well as details of your history pertaining to listening, speaking, reading, and writing acquisition in any languages (including your primary language). Please also reference any academic services such as tutoring, accommodations, or language waivers/substitutions received prior to Dartmouth.