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.

Universities nationwide are experiencing unprecedented growth in the numbers of...

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. Once you have been sent the electronic copy of the accommodation letter, you are then required to provide...

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. For instance, if a student breaks their hand the night before your exam and asks you if they can have some extra time because their typing is slower, you have the discretion to allow this adjustment without...

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.

Students first apply online to create an account with DSP that will allow our office to keep students’ disability records separate from their academic and other campus records....

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. The Disability Specialist can review the student’s documentation on file and confirm whether there is a disability-related need for an absence, assignment extension, or other...

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. Students may also find that the impact of their disability has changed during the semester and that they need additional support in accessing their program of study due...

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.

When DSP and an instructor disagree regarding the appropriateness of an accommodation for a particular course, the...

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. If you have any concerns about the...

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). However, we cannot require students to have a conversation about their accommodations with their...

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.

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. If you have any concerns about the change, please contact a DSP Disability Specialist...

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?

Guidance on implementing assignment extension accommodations

Allowance for extensions on take-home assignments may be needed to address the impact of some student's disabilities. Students who may need this accommodation include students who take longer to produce assignments because they use assistive technology (for example, speech to text) or students who have periodic flares of illness that may sometimes interfere with meeting deadlines.

Students with an assignment extension accommodation must communicate the need for an extension on each assignment unless otherwise...

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?

If the student is in good standing in your class at the time of the missed final, you can offer the student the option of an incomplete grade to allow them to take a make-up exam when they are well enough to do so. However, you cannot require a student to wait a full semester to take the final exam with another class if the student requests to take the exam earlier. In most cases, if a student has missed an exam due to a flare in the impact of their disability, the student will be able to take the exam within days of the flare subsiding. If this is the case, it would not...

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. Students should not be told where to sit in the classroom.

In your syllabus, please state that students who need a laptop should contact the instructor to request an exception. In this way, you can avoid specifically singling out students with disabilities.

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!

The paradigm of Universal Design recognizes that disability is just one facet of an individual’s identity and that disability is neither negative nor an inherent barrier to access. Universal Design asks us to consider for...

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.

Online courses or websites that are only accessible to registered students must provide accommodations as described in...

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

Resources for online instruction: ...

Are there any resources available if I want to teach parts of my course online?

Yes, Research Teaching and Learning (RTL) provides a thorough set of resources that allows you to bring more of your teaching online. Please visit: https://rtl.berkeley.edu/get-started


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

Students can only schedule their exams on the dates entered by the instructor in the Testing Agreement. However, the system will allow students to schedule their exams at any time between the hours of 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM for regular-semester exams. If you want your students to schedule their exams at a specific time it is your responsibility to notify your students to schedule their exams at the time determined by you.

For final exams, students are restricted to...

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

Faculty need to submit a testing agreement for each class for which they are requesting exams. Once the testing agreement is submitted, students will be responsible for requesting and scheduling their own exams through their DSP Student Portal.

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

Exams must be delivered to us in one of the following ways:

1.) Email the exam in an attachment to proctoring@berkeley.edu no later than 4:30 PM 2 BUSINESS DAYS prior to the date of the exam. Please include the Department and course number in the subject line.

2.) Upload exams through your Faculty Portal no later than 4:30 PM 2 BUSINESS DAYS prior to the date of the exam.

3.)Hand-delivered in person at the Proctoring Center no later than 4:30 pm one business day before the...

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

Exams must be picked up in person in our office 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 Proctoring Center 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. Any suspicious activity is logged and reported to the instructor...

Can DSP Proctoring proctor online exams?

We are 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 are unable to proctor evening exams. All regular-semester exams must end by 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday. All final exams must end no later than 6 pm. Please call our office at (510) 643-4691 or email proctoring@berkeley.edu to discuss your needs.

How do I request proctoring services for exams?

To request proctoring services for your class, log in to your DSP Faculty Portal and click on the Proctoring module on the left side of the page. Click on the Testing Agreement and answer all questions in that form. Once you have submitted the testing agreement, students will be responsible for scheduling their own exams. Space is limited and we may not be able to seat all your students. We will give priority to students with complex accommodations...

Will DSP Proctoring notify me of my DSP student's proctoring details?

When a student's exam is approved you will receive an email thread notifying you of your students' scheduled exams, including all relevant details. You will receive a separate email for each student in one email thread.

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 Disability 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.

Create accessible versions of class documents, syllabi, handouts, and exams....

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

If you cannot locate an electronic version of a text and...

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


Exam date

In your email, you can share with us your...


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.