Faculty FAQs

Faculty Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

I have been teaching at Berkeley for some time, and the number of students with disabilities in my classes seems to increase every semester. Are more students with disabilities attending Berkeley? Why do the numbers seem to keep going up?

In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act was amended, broadening the definition of disability to include more persons with non-apparent disabilities (for example, chronic health conditions and psychological disabilities). In addition, IDEA, the law that governs K-12 services for students with disabilities, has provided greater opportunity for students with disabilities to excel academically, graduate high school, and successfully matriculate to higher education.

 

A student with a disability is enrolled in my class. What adjustments or other accommodations must I make?

If the student is being served by DSP, you will receive a letter of accommodation that specifically describes the accommodations to which a student is entitled to ensure their equal access to your course. If a student requests accommodations on the basis of disability and you have not yet received an accommodation letter, then you should ask the student to log in to their DSP account via the DSP website to request that a letter of accommodation from DSP is sent to you.

What if a student says that they have a disability, but I have not received a letter of accommodation from DSP?

We ask faculty to refer students back to DSP rather than provide informal accommodations. Informal accommodations may not meet the student’s disability-related access needs. If a student is not yet active in DSP and has an immediate concern, instructors can provide the same consideration for extenuating circumstances that they would provide for students without disabilities.

How is the decision made that a student needs accommodations? How does a student become eligible for DSP services?

Not every student with a disability attending UC Berkeley is utilizing DSP services. The decision to connect with DSP is an individual choice for students with disabilities. If a student believes that they will require accommodations to have equal access to participate in their program at Berkeley, they need to take the formal step of applying for accommodations.

Why doesn’t my student’s accommodation letter state what their disability is? How can I verify that their accommodation request in my class is related to their disability? Can I request medical documentation from a student with DSP accommodations?

Students with disabilities have a right to privacy regarding their medical diagnoses and medical documentation. For this reason, we ask faculty not to request medical documentation from students with disabilities. If you feel that it is necessary to verify that a student’s request is disability related, you can contact the student’s assigned Disability Specialist.

Why do we receive late letters of accommodation? Can you set a deadline for students to apply for accommodations each semester?

DSP does not have a deadline by which students can apply for services. Students can be diagnosed with or acquire disabilities at any time, and the process of obtaining disability documentation can also take time. Sometimes students who already have a disability identity will wait to seek services until they have first tried participating at Berkeley without formal accommodations.

If I receive a late accommodation letter, do I need to accommodate for past weeks in the semester?

Accommodations are not retroactive, so you are not responsible for provision of accommodations prior to the date that the accommodation letter is issued. You do have the discretion to retroactively accommodate a student if you would like to. For instance, if a student becomes active in DSP in the middle of the semester and their accommodation letter requires flexibility with assignment deadlines, you have the discretion to accept their late work from earlier in the semester. However, you are not required to do so.

Are students required to speak with faculty to initiate accommodations?

We do encourage students to have a conversation with their instructors about their accommodations. These conversations can be helpful for both parties. DSP Disability Specialists can also help facilitate these conversations and assist faculty with setting up an agreement with students about accommodations (for example, Disability Specialists can help instructors and students determine the parameters for acceptable numbers of absences or timelines for assignment extensions).

What if I object to a recommendation in DSP's letter of accommodation?

Please contact the Disability Specialist who sent the accommodation letter to resolve any logistical or other concerns you may have. The Disability Specialists know that their recommendations can occasionally inadvertently compromise the purposes or standards of a class, and they are ready to discuss such concerns with you. You are not obligated to fundamentally alter the objectives of your course.

Are there ways for students to receive approval of or support for academic accommodations other than through DSP?

Yes. Students may request accommodations through other processes and offices, including the Title IX office, Path to Care, and the Center for Support and Intervention. For questions about accommodations for reasons other than disability (for example, Title IX accommodations), please reach out to the referring office with questions. More information is available at Academic Accommodations Hub 

How far in advance must students with disabilities inform an instructor about needed accommodations?

Students who work with DSP are strongly urged to request and send letters of accommodation as soon as they register for a course or become eligible for accommodations. However, the University must make every effort to accommodate students, regardless of the timing of the notice of a student's need for accommodations. DSP may be able to assist with late requests. Please contact the Disability Specialist who sent the student’s accommodation letter if you need assistance.

A student in my class is requesting an extension on their homework assignment, but their accommodation letter doesn’t say how many additional days I should allow them. How do I know how much additional time to provide?

For students with an accommodation allowing for extensions on take-home assignments, the amount of extended time a student may need will vary by student and by assignment. Some students may have this accommodation to address unforeseeable flare-ups in their disability (for instance, a student may have a low blood-sugar episode that may require them to be unexpectedly hospitalized), and in these cases, the student may not even need to request extensions on most assignments.

The location of my classroom was changed to accommodate a student with a disability. How could a change of classroom location serve as a disability accommodation?

Sometimes a student with disabilities may need to have a classroom location changed in order to have full access to your course. Most frequently, this is because a classroom was not fully accessible for a student who is using a wheelchair for mobility, because the building is in a campus location that the student has significant difficulty physically travelling to and from because of the impact of their disability, or because the classroom lacks the technology needed for real-time captioning.

Is it okay for me to give the student a grade of Incomplete and ask them to take the final exam with next semester’s class?

The day of my final exam, a student in my class had a disability-related absence. The student now wants me to provide them with a make-up exam, which their accommodation letter allows for. Is it okay for me to give the student a grade of Incomplete and ask them to take the final exam with next semester’s class?

Can I, instead of offering a make-up exam, require the student to roll the points for the missed exam into future exams?

Faculty may offer this as an option to students. However, if the student has a documented disability-related need for a make-up exam as verified by the Disability Specialist, then the student has a right to take a make-up exam. The exam may be an alternate exam of the same format and difficulty as the original exam.  The faculty member may also choose to administer the same exam and have the student sign an academic honesty agreement.

A DSP student has an accommodation to use a laptop, and I do not allow laptops in my classroom.

Some students use assistive technology on a laptop to assist them with note taking. If a DSP student has an accommodation for the use of a laptop for disability-related reasons, please allow the DSP student to use their laptop. It is also important to allow the student to sit where they choose as the student may need to sit near the front as an accommodation for their disability as well. 

Can I send an email to all of my DSP students?

Yes, please be sure to use bcc to not violate the privacy of your DSP students.

 

As I’m planning my class, is there anything I can do to make my class more accessible so students require fewer accommodations to participate in my class?

We’re so glad you asked! The more accessible your class is for students with disabilities, the fewer accommodations students will require to participate in your class. As an additional benefit, when your class is more accessible for students with disabilities, it will be more accessible for students without disabilities, too!

Online Instruction and Events

There’s been a lot of discussion about online access recently. Can you explain the difference between the accessibility standard for websites and accommodations for online classes?

UC Berkeley is required to ensure that anything posted in public forums (for example, University websites or YouTube Channels) is fully accessible to persons with disabilities and can be accessed using assistive technology ( i.e. screen readers) and also includes video captions.  Any information that is posted in your official university capacity that is visible to any member of the public must meet this accessibility standard. 

Who is responsible for ensuring accessibility standards are met? What resources and training are available for faculty?

Faculty are responsible for making their own websites accessible and providing accommodations for students with disabilities in an online course.  There are many campus resources to assist faculty with this.  

Resources for building accessible websites can be found here:  https://webaccess.berkeley.edu/home

Proctoring

Can students in DSP take their exam at a different day and/or time than the class?

All DSP proctored exams are scheduled on the date/time that is requested by the instructor. In some circumstances, a student may have a conflict with another class or another exam. Please coordinate a suitable date/time with the student that does not conflict with their schedule.

Do I need to fill out a new request for each individual exam?

Please do not submit more than one proctoring request form for your class, and be sure to include all exams (quizzes, midterms, and final) in that single request. If you need to add a student or make any changes to your request, please send an email to proctoring@berkeley.edu. Include the 5-digit Course Catalogue Number (CCN) in the subject line.

 

 

When should I drop off exams to the DSP Proctoring office?

Exams must be delivered to our office in person at Hearst Gym Suite 2 no later than 4:30 pm the day before the exam is scheduled to take place. Please have each exam placed in 9”x12” folder with the labels affixed on the top-left corner of the envelope.

When can I pick up completed exams from the DSP Proctoring office?

Exams will be ready for pick up in our office at Hearst Gym Suite 2, beginning at 8:30 am the day after the exam. Pick-up hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.

 

How can I communicate changes or errors in the exam to my students while they are taking their exam with DSP Proctoring?

To communicate any changes to your exam while the exam is taking place, please call the DSP office at (510) 643-4691. We will notify your students of the changes. Please keep in mind that your students may be located in different buildings, and reaching all of your students may take time.

If a student misses their exam, can they reschedule with DSP Proctoring?

If an instructor would like us to reschedule a student’s exam, please email our office at proctoring@berkeley.edu. We will be happy to reschedule the exam at the instructor’s request. Please do not have students contact us directly to reschedule an exam. Exams can only be scheduled with faculty approval.

 

If a student is late to their exam, do they receive their full amount of time?

If a student is late for their exam, they will not be granted any additional time. If they are more than 30 minutes late, they will not be allowed to start their exam unless we get approval from the instructor. We will call the contact number submitted on the proctoring request form for approval.

 

What measures are taken to promote academic integrity?

DSP Proctoring takes academic integrity very seriously. All of our proctors are well trained and are constantly monitoring exams in our testing locations. Students must show a photo ID when they arrive and agree to all conditions before an exam begins. Cell phones and smart watches must be turned off in front of the proctor and stowed away for the duration of the exam. Students are asked to sign in/out when using the bathroom, and proctors are continually walking the floor to deter any potential for cheating.

How do I request proctoring services for exams?

Please click on the following link to submit your proctoring request form: Proctoring--Faculty Request for Exam Accommodations. Please submit only one online request form for your class. If your class is cross-listed, please submit one online request form for each cross-listed section.

 

Can DSP Proctoring proctor online exams?

We are generally unable to proctor online exams at this time. For assistance with online exams, please contact Digital Learning Services or email: bcourseshelp@berkeley.edu.

Can DSP Proctoring proctor exams at night?

Due to staffing considerations, we may schedule exams to end as late as 7:00 pm on evenings when there is staff available. Please call our office at (510) 643-4691, or email proctoring@berkeley.edu  to discuss your needs. If you are able to provide your own space, we may be able to send you proctors to cover your evening exams under your supervision.

Will DSP Proctoring notify my DSP students of their proctoring details, or should I notify them?

Students will receive a formal notification from the Proctoring office approximately 5 business days prior to the date of their exam. It is also recommended that the instructor notify students directly as well. If for any reason a student intends to take their exam with the class, please email proctoring@berkeley.edu to cancel the student’s reservation. Space is limited, and we schedule proctors and locations based on the number of reservations.

Can DSP Proctoring proctor exams during RRR week?

University policy prohibits administering any final assessments during RRR week. For further clarification, please consult the Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI) Handbook, section 2.1.12 Reading, Review, and Recitation (RRR) Week Guidelines.

 

Can I provide DSP exam accommodations myself?

Yes, so long as each student is provided with their individual accommodations. If you have any questions about specific accommodations for any student, please contact the student’s DSP Specialist for assistance.

 

Can I refuse a disability-related request for a make-up exam and instead drop the exam and add the points to a future exam? (sometimes known as clobber policies)

Faculty may offer this as an option to students. However, if the student has a documented disability-related need for a make-up exam as verified by the Disability Specialist, then the student has a right to take a make-up exam. The exam may be an alternate exam of the same format and difficulty as the original exam.  The faculty member may also choose to administer the same exam and have the student sign an academic honesty agreement.

Can I relocate students during an exam?

 Generally, no. This can be very disruptive to students who need exam accommodations.  The exception would be if the chosen space was no longer appropriate because of unanticipated background noise or disruptions.

 

Why do students receive exam accommodations?

Exam accommodations are a more common accommodation because they accommodate students with many different types of disabilities.  Some examples include: students with learning disabilities or physical disabilities who use assistive technologies may need additional time to read exam questions and produce responses;  students with learning disabilities that impact processing speeds may need more time to process information; students with attention deficits may need both additional time and a reduced distraction environment.

 

Alternative Media

How can I prepare my classes so that they are accessible to students who use alternative media (braille, large print, e-Text)?

  • Adopt your textbooks and prepare your course reader before the Accommodation Deadline.

  • If you are using a print shop for a course reader, retain a digital copy of the course reader files. DSP may need to request the digital version of your course reader for conversion purposes.

A student in my class receives alternative media. What do I do?

If you know that a student is registered with the Disabled Students Program, please feel free to contact the Alternative Media Unit of DSP for help. 

It is best practice to create an accessible version of your course before you are notified that a student has an accommodation. See the previous question for information about how to do that.

 

How can I create accessible materials for my class?

OCR Scanners

Before you scan a document for use in your class, first check if the document is already available electronically through one of the Library’s subscriptions. If the book is in the public domain, you can also check for electronic copies at Project Gutenberg.

How can I check if the documents that I am using in my class are accessible to students who are blind or who use assistive technology?

My student needs an alternative format of my exam. What do I do?

If you are a faculty member or GSI who needs to convert an exam into an alternative format, please send an email to dspamc@berkeley.edu in which you share with us the following information:

  • Student name

  • Student ID 

  • Class name

  • Professor name 

  • CCN

Notetaking

A student in my class has an accommodation to receive notes. Am I required to find the student a notetaker?

No action is required on your part. DSP’s Note Taking office will coordinate recruitment of notetakers and delivery of notes to the student. In certain cases, DSP may contact you directly for assistance in recruiting a notetaker.

A student in my class says they are not receiving notes. What should I do?

Instruct the student to contact dspnotes@berkeley.edu, and we will follow up with the student. 

 

A student in my class has an audio recording accommodation, but I don’t allow recording.

All DSP students who are approved to audio record sign an Audio Recording Agreement. The agreement states that they acknowledge the recording is the intellectual property of the instructor and that they will not distribute the recording. You may request a copy of this from the students’ assigned Disability Specialist.  If you still have concerns about audio recording in your class, please contact the Disability Specialist who signed the letter of accommodation.  

 

In my classroom, we often discuss sensitive topics/information. How do I handle this?

In this case, it’s best to reach out to the student's Disability Specialist to discuss your concerns and make a plan. Please do not discuss your concerns with your student.  A common solution is to allow the student to record any lecture-based material, but turn the recording off during discussion of sensitive topics. 

 

A notetaker has reached out to me and asked for permission to use their laptop. I do not allow students to use technology in class. What should I do?

Some DSP students have specific accommodations to receive typewritten notes from a student notetaker in their class. If this is the case, the notetaker should be allowed to use their laptop in the classroom as long as they have identified themselves to you. A DSP specialist will reach out to you to confirm the accommodation.

Communications Accommodations

What is Realtime Captioning?

Realtime Captioning is the immediate stenographic transcription of the spoken word into text. This text can be viewed on a mobile device, computer, tablet, or large screen.  Realtime Captioning enables people who are hard of hearing or D/deaf equal access to fully and actively participate.

What is captioned media?

Captioned Media displays spoken words as text and includes speaker identifications, sound descriptions, punctuation, and musical lyrics and/or description.

Do I always have to use captioned versions of films, film clips, YouTube/Vimeo videos, and other media?

YES.  ALL films, clips, videos, and other media must be captioned in accordance with Federal Law and

What should I do if the media I plan to use is not captioned?

If your material is not captioned, please submit your Captioned Media request via the DSP portal (AIM). 

What is the difference between captions and subtitles?

Subtitles are generally intended for people who are able to hear. Subtitles are most often used to display a different language than the one spoken in the video. Subtitles only include the words spoken.

Why do videos need to be captioned if there’s a realtime captioner or ASL Interpreter in the class?

It is impossible for the student to watch the video and watch the captions/interpreters simultaneously. Information will be missed on one end or the other, thereby missing portions of the captions/interpreting.

How long does it take to get media captioned?

For shorter videos of ten minutes or less, please allow 10 business days. For longer videos, please allow 15 business days. For last-minute media captioning requests, please submit your request via AIM and indicate your desired turnaround time. Please plan accordingly. If videos are not captioned, they may not be shown in class or be required to view outside of class time.

Is a transcript of a video sufficient?

If the media has audio and video, you need to have it captioned. A transcript is not sufficient.

 

Why aren’t automatic captions (speech recognition) sufficient for a video shown in class?

Automatic captions do not meet caption quality or legal standards that apply to video captioning as a whole.

Does the media need captioning if the instructor owns the video?

If the video will be shown in the classroom or is required to be watched outside of class time by the students, regardless of whether it is instructor-owned or campus-owned, it will need to be captioned.

 

What if the clip I plan to use is from YouTube?

If the material is on YouTube, you should check to see if it’s appropriately captioned. If it is not properly captioned, request that DSP have it captioned for you.

Can I get foreign language films captioned?

Yes. Please submit your request through AIM.

Where can I go to find an already captioned version of the film/video I want to play?

Do only D/deaf and hard-of-hearing persons benefit from captioning?

No. Captions aid in comprehension, accuracy, engagement, and retention for many persons without hearing loss as well.

How do I submit recorded Zoom lectures for captioning?

Please submit recorded Zoom Lectures to us via the DSP portal (AIM) within 24 hours so captions may be added.

How do I assign the captioner to a Zoom breakout room?

When assigning a captioner to the student during breakout sessions, please look for the captioner as a participant (Captioner). Please ensure the captioner is in the same breakout room as the student receiving the accommodation.

Breakout Room Instructions

How do I get my media captioned?

Submit captioning requests to DSP Captioning via the DSP portal (AIM). This includes all media including, but not limited to, bCourses videos, video and voiceover content, narrated embedded PowerPoint videos, videos listed on your syllabus, YouTube, TED Talks, Zoom lectures, and raw MP4 files.

Where do I find additional resources for conducting Zoom meetings?

How do I communicate with a Realtime Captioner during a Zoom lecture?

You can use the chat window in Zoom to communicate with the captioner. The captioner will be named “Captioner” in the participant list.  Please send all messages to the captioner privately.

What is ASL Interpreting?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language. The ASL Interpreter facilitates the communication of what is being said in a variety of academic situations. They may also translate the student’s signed communication into spoken English when the student is called upon, has a comment or question, or makes a presentation. ASL Interpreters are there to provide communication access between the student, the instructor, and the class.

Do I need to do anything differently when an ASL Interpreter is present for an in-person class?

  • When using an interpreter to speak with a person who is D/deaf or hard of hearing, remember to speak directly to the person, not to the interpreter. The interpreter is not part of the conversation and is not permitted to voice personal opinions or enter into the conversation.

Can I request to have live captioning for a public event that is not course related?

Yes. Disability Access and Compliance can arrange services for public events. Please contact them to request assistance at: Disability Access and Compliance request form

Do only D/deaf and hard-of-hearing persons benefit from captioning?

No. Captions aid in comprehension, accuracy, engagement, and retention for persons without hearing loss as well.

Do I need to do anything differently when a Realtime Captioner is present for an in-person class?

  • Speak clearly, in a normal tone, and at a moderate rate. Do not rush through a lecture. If the captioner does not understand or hear what was said, they may ask the speaker to slow down or restate the information given.

Does Realtime Captioning require the use of technology, such as mobile phones or laptops, in my classroom?

Yes, Realtime Captioning provides an instant translation of spoken English into written English text that is displayed on a laptop, tablet, or cell phone.  

What are the Realtime Captioning Best Practices for courses presented via Zoom?

  • Zoom lectures need to end at the scheduled end time, as both the students and the captioners may have other obligations immediately following your class.

How will I know if a Realtime Captioner is present in my Zoom meeting?

The captioner will be named “Captioner” in your Zoom participant list.

Can a student with a Realtime Captioning accommodation participate in Zoom group work/breakout rooms?

Yes, the student is able to participate in group work. When a class is held in-person, a captioner is present and often sits with the group in order to hear the speakers clearly. Remote classes are handled in a similar fashion in that the captioner will be present in the same breakout room/group component as the student. 

What is a Captioned Media accommodation?

The Captioned Media accommodation applies to any media that is pre-recorded and played during a lecture, posted on a course website, or otherwise included in the course. For instance, if you have a folder of films or videos of interest on your bCourses site, those should be available in captioned formats. 

If I have a realtime/live captioner in my Zoom lecture, do I still need to submit Zoom recordings to be captioned?

Yes. The live captioner is there for a purpose similar to that of an ASL Interpreter; to provide captions for the communication that is occurring live. Realtime Captioning affords a D/deaf or hard-of-hearing student the ability to actively participate in classroom discussions, questions, responses, and breakout sessions without losing quality of access to the material as it is presented.