Letters of Accommodation

Letters of Accommodation (LOA’s)

When students give you Letters of Accommodation (LOA’s) from DSP, you:

  • Are responsible for providing the accommodations listed.
  • Are not required to compromise the academic integrity of your course by giving passing grades to students who have failed to demonstrate the required level of understanding or performance competency.
  • Are not responsible for providing retroactive accommodations. Accommodations become your responsibility only after a DSP student has submitted a request to DSP to have an LOA sent, and the letter has been sent to the faculty/GSI.
  • Are not obligated to provide any other accommodation not identified in the LOA, or otherwise made available to any other student in your class.
  • Should have a conversation with the student (s) to discuss course expectations and requirements

Sometimes it is mid-semester or later before students are diagnosed with disabilities and authorized for DSP services. In this event students cannot provide you with LOA’s earlier in the semester, even though you may have invited them to do so in your syllabus. Again, you are not repsonsible for providing retroactive accommodations. However, going forward, effort should be made to provide the accommodations within a reasonable time frame. For example, DSP Proctoring requests a 2 week window to coordinate schedule and space for exams they proctor.

Students have a right to privacy in disability matters, and their confidentiality must be maintained. For this reason, the disability diagnosis is not identified in the LOA’s. You should file their LOA’s in a safe place, and you should refrain from discussing their necessary accommodations in the hearing of fellow students or others who have no educational "need to know."

Occasionally a student may request accommodations without presenting you with a Letter of Accommodation from DSP. To protect yourself, the student, and the University, you should insist that the student contact DSP to request an appropriate LOA addressed to you. 


The first time that the instructor of record logs-in each term, they are prompted to provide electronic verification of Legitimate Educational Interest and Duty to Preserve Confidentiality of Student Records.

To access Letters of Accommodation: The first tab on the faculty screen will list the course(s) that are associated with the instructor of record, and enable the instructor of record to download LOA’s 

To assign a Proxy, the instructor of record, should go to the second tab “Proxies” on the faculty screen where they will see the following instructions:

You may designate one of your GSI’s or a trusted staff person in your department, to act as a proxy for your course. The proxy will be able to login to the faculty portal, as you do, to view Accommodation Letters. The proxy will also be cc’d on future email notices about new/updated accommodation letters for the specific course they are assigned to.

If you are co-teaching a course, only the first listed professor can view accommodation letters or assign proxy access. However, proxy rights may be assigned to a co-instructor.

You may add, or delete, assigned proxies at any time. As a security precaution, proxy access to this portal will automatically expire at the end of the semester; you will need to select new proxies each semester.

Note: as the instructor of record you are ultimately responsible for insuring the accommodations outlined in the letter are provided to your students. If you have any questions about this process or the listed accommodations please feel free to contact the student’s assigned disability specialist.

The instructor of record should select the correct term e.g. Fall 2106, then click      

'Find.' Select the proper course from the ‘Course’ drop box; enter the UID found in the 

CalNet directory; click ‘Add Proxy.’

Disability Related Absenses

A common accommodation for many DSP students is having disability-related absences. There are two aspects of a student needing accommodation for disability-related absences. The first is that the student should not be more restricted than students without disabilities. Thus, if the professor does not keep attendance records or otherwise track attendance of non-disabled students, there should not be any special tracking of students with disabilities. Similarly, if the professor does not emphasize the importance of attendance or class participation, e.g., syllabus, class announcements, portion of the grade assigned, etc., then a student with a disability who has frequent absences probably should not have them count against him/her when being graded for the course.

In setting the number of minimum class absences for a student with a disability, the professor should consider the amount of material that a student can reasonably miss being covered in class and still compensate for it by learning the material in another way, e.g., reading another's class notes or the assigned reading. Once the professor determines how many classes a student can miss and still be satisfying the core requirements, then the student should not be penalized for poor attendance/participation so long as s/he attends the number established by the professor (even if that number is less than is required of non-disabled students).

Although it is the professor's responsibility to determine how many classes can be missed without it constituting a fundamental alternation in the nature of his/her course, it is the responsibility of DSP to determine how many class absences may be anticipated as disability-related based on the medical documentation/past history DSP has reviewed. Thus, just as DSP suggests that the professor give the student double time on a test, DSP determines the amount of time the student's disability may cause the student to be out (e.g., total of 2-3 weeks, or 4-6 class absences) if past experiences are a reliable indicator of the future. However, the fact that the student's medical documentation supports the student's necessity to be out does not "trump" the professor's right to uphold campus academic standards by requiring the student to attend/participate to the degree academically necessary in order for the student to meet the course's core requirements as determined by the professor. It is the students' responsibility to make up assignments and/or class requirements immediately after each absence, and to keep up with the course requirements.

In brief - When class attendance is tracked for purposes of the final course grade, allowances for occasional disability-related absences can be made. Note: when class participation and/or group projects are an essential element of the course, faculty are not required to fundamentally alter the nature of their course. For example, there may be course requirements for which there are no comparable alternative assignments that can be independently completed by the student. It is the students' responsibility to meet with faculty at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance and participation expectations.

LOA wording - When class attendance is tracked for purposes of the final course grade, please make allowance for occasional disability-related absences. Note: when class participation and/or group projects are an essential element of your course, you are not required to fundamentally alter the nature of your course. For example, there may be course requirements for which there are no comparable alternative assignments that can be independently completed by the student. In the event a make-up exam/quiz is required due to a disability-related absence, such a request must be made promptly, and completed in a timely manner. It is the students’ responsibility to meet with you at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance, participation and course requirements. Please contact the Specialist who signed the LOA if you have questions.

Tests/Make-up Exams

At the beginning of the semester (or immediately after they become eligible for DSP test accommodations), students need to provide faculty a copy of their LOA, and required need for test accommodations . Make-up exams are to be offered only when there are extenuating circumstances preventing ability to take the exam as scheduled, the make-up exam request is made promptly, and is supported by medical documentation (e.g. note from urgent care) confirming a disability-related reason that the student was unable to take the specific exam on the originally scheduled date. In some cases, the student may not want faculty to have the documentation, and may instead provide it to DSP, in which case DSP will verify that the student had a disability-related reason for missing the exam, and requiring a make-up. Students are responsible for being on time for exams, and tardiness will be deducted from the total exam time authorized.

Please note in the Disability Related Absences the LOA wording that applies to make up exams. It is the student's responsibility to contact their instructors promptly, and to complete make up exams in a timely manner.

Audio Recording

A common accommodation for DSP students is the use of a Smart Pen, or Sonocent recording for course lectures. Early in the semester, the student and faculty should discuss this accommodation requirement, to insure mutual understanding of when and how recordings will be made (e.g. faculty lectures are recorded, student discussion may not), and an agreement that:

1)    The Student will only use these audio files for personal study.

2)    The Student is prohibited from sharing these files or disseminating any information obtained from the class through use of an audio-recorder with any other persons, or in any other way. 

LOA Concerns

If you receive an LOA and have questions or concerns on how to provide the accommodations listed, we encourage you to have a private discussion with the student. During this discussion, you can clarify your academic expectations, and inquire as to how to best provide the LOA requirements. If, after meeting with the student, you still have concerns or questions, please contact the DSP Specialist who signed the letter.

In the event you and DSP reach an impasse in your discussion about an accommodation, you should contact the campus ADA/504 Compliance Officer within five University working days of being notified about the accommodation concern. The ADA/504 Compliance Officer may set aside the accommodation or may decline to do so. In the latter case, the ADA/504 Compliance Officer may refer you to the Academic Accommodations Policy Board, which will review the matter and advise the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, whose decision will be final.