Berkeley Campus Plan for Accommodating the Academic Needs of Students with Disabilities

This policy describes the roles of various units and individuals at the University of California, Berkeley in ensuring that students with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations in their instructional activities, as mandated by Federal and State law and by University policy.

The fundamental principles of nondiscrimination and accommodation in academic programs were set forth in Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title II; and their implementing regulations at 34 C.F.R. Part 104 and 28 C.F.R. Part 35 respectively.

These laws establish that students with disabilities may not, on the basis of their disabilities, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any University program or activity. The University must make sure that its academic requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating against persons with disabilities. Academic requirements that are justifiably essential to a student's program of instruction are not considered discriminatory. Academic accommodations to which a student may be entitled include changes in the length of time allowed to complete degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses or examinations are conducted.

University of California policies are presented in the University of California Guidelines Applying to Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap, which appear as Section 140 of the University's Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students.

Disability Specialists

Several professional staff members of the Disabled Students' Program are responsible for evaluating the documentation concerning a student's disability, assessing the disability's impact on the student's participation in academic activities, and advising the student concerning appropriate learning strategies. These disability specialists also determine the nature of accommodations in instruction and testing that will be required for a student. In doing so, they may consult the student's instructor(s). The nature of the accommodations shall be consistent with policies developed by the Disabled Students' Program, approved by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and reviewed by the Academic Accommodations Policy Board. The disability specialists explain the nature and purpose of the accommodations to the student and, as appropriate, to the student's instructors. When possible, this is done at the beginning of each semester so that the accommodations can be implemented in a timely manner. The disability specialists advise their supervisor and the Director of the Disabled Students' Program when they anticipate a difficult determination of appropriate accommodations or experience difficulty coming to agreement with the instructor.

Director, Disabled Students' Program

The Director of the Disabled Students' Program is responsible for the overall role of the Disabled Students' Program in implementing this policy, including overseeing the disability specialist's proper use of the policy and guiding difficult determinations of appropriate accommodations.


Senate and non-Senate faculty (including Graduate Student Instructors) are responsible for conducting classes and administering examinations, as described in the Bylaws of the Academic Senate. They should be mindful, in developing tests or other procedures for evaluating students' academic achievement, that both Federal regulations and University policy require that
. . . methods should be provided for evaluating the achievement of students who have a [disability] that impairs sensory, manual, or speaking skills as will best ensure that the results of the evaluation represents the student's achievement in the course, rather than reflecting the student's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where such skills are the factors that the test purports to measure). [34 C.F.R. § 104.44 (c)]

If an instructor has concerns or questions about an accommodation that a disability specialist has determined to be appropriate for a particular student, the instructor should contact the disability specialist promptly. If, after adequately thorough and good faith discussion with the disability specialist, the instructor disagrees with the accommodation, the instructor should seek its review by contacting the Assistant Provost of Academic Compliance & Disability Standards within five University working days of being notified about it by the disability specialist or the student. The instructor must provide the accommodation until it is either set aside or modified by the Assistant Provost or the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. The Assistant Provost will attempt to resolve the disagreement informally. If this effort does not succeed, the Assistant Provost will refer the instructor to the Academic Accommodations Policy Board, which will review the matter and advise the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, whose decision will be final.

Department Chairs and Deans

The administrative heads of departments and schools are responsible for ensuring that the instructional staff of their units understand the Berkeley Campus' full commitment to implementing Federal law and University policy assuring nondiscrimination for students on the basis of disability. If an instructor fails to provide an academic accommodation that is determined to be appropriate pursuant to this policy, the instructor's Department Chair (or Dean), in conjunction with the Assistant Provost of Academic Compliance & Disability Standards, will ensure that the accommodation is provided in a timely manner until the matter has been reviewed by the Academic Accommodations Policy Board and a final decision reached by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost.

Filing a Complaint

In general, the complainant must be able to establish that he or she appropriately requested, in a timely manner, the desired accommodation. The campus has established a process for filing student complaints regarding disability accommodations.

As appropriate, complaints about the provision of appropriate academic accommodations may be addressed under the Disabled Students' Program Complaint Resolution process.

Appendix I: Contact Information

Key personnel for implementing the Berkeley Campus Policy for Accommodating the Academic Needs of Students with Disabilities:

The disability specialists and the Director of the Disabled Students' Program are located at:

Disabled Students' Program
260 Cesar Chavez Center
Berkeley, CA 94720-4250
Voice: (510) 642-0518
TTY: (510) 642-6376

The Director is Karen Nielson; her email is

To file a student complaint regarding disability accommodations, see

Other Resources

The Office of the Ombudsperson for Students may be able to provide information and assistance to students and to faculty with regard to informal resolution of student matters. Contact (510) 642-5754.

The Ombudsperson for Faculty may be able to provide information and assistance to faculty with regard to informal resolution of academic accommodation matters. Contact the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate at (510) 642-4226.