Frequently Asked Questions

What are the drop in hours for this semester?

Drop In Hours

Effective June 26, 2017, the current drop-in appointment system will be changing.  Please see this note about the upcoming changes to our appointment procedures!

L&S Counseling

Mondays 1:00-3:30 PM

Financial Aid

Wednesdays 2:00 - 4:00 PM; by appointment 
Starting at the beginning of the week, you may stop by the DSP office or call the reception to make an appointment.
Will you discuss my progress at Cal with my parents, or answer their questions if they write or phone?

We urge you to keep in close personal contact with your parents throughout your years at Cal. However, DSP cannot normally discuss any information about your progress at Berkeley with a third party, including your parents. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the University policy regarding the release and disclosure of student information generally prohibit DSP from disclosing confidential information to anyone but the student.

What is FERPA?

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and is a federal law that was enacted in 1974.  FERPA protects the privacy of student education records by authorizing the release of such records to authorized parties identified in the FERPA release form

 Why should I care about FERPA?

  • If you're a student, it's important for you to understand your rights under FERPA and that you’re aware that the law allows you to release records to parties that you deem appropriate.
  • If you're a parent, you'll need to understand how the law changes once your student enters a post-secondary institution.  If the student wishes for you to have access to their records, the student must initiate a FERPA release form 

What I should know about the Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) FERPA?

  • DSP serves the student and values the student/specialist relationship.
  • DSP encourages the greatest degree of independence for the student. 
  • Notwithstanding a FERPA release, the student must still be the primary point of contact for DSP, and be the one responsible for decisions and initiating FERPA release forms.
  • DSP respects student’s confidentiality. Although the FERPA release authorizes disclosure of certain records associated with a student, it does not include conversations or communications between DSP and the student.

How Do I initiate a FERPA release with DSP?

  • Step 1: Retrieve FERPA release form from any DSP specialist or the DSP website.
  • Step 2:  Sign the release form in the presence of a DSP specialist. To prevent student from coercion or force, and release of records to unauthorized parties, student must sign the release form in the presence of a DSP specialist.  This can be accomplished during drop-in hours and any available specialist can be of assistance.
  • Step: 3:  Authorized party identified in the FERPA release, must request records.  DSP’s obtainment of completed FERPA release forms does not constitute as automatic release of documents. The authorized party must initiate the request before any documents are released. DSP will process the request and release documents to authorized parties.

The relevant campus policies are available online.

Why is there a difference between the services I was offered in high school and those I am eligible to receive at Berkeley?

In general, disability services at UC Berkeley are intended to provide student access to educational programs rather than remediation of the student's disability. For example, extended test time is an accommodation that promotes access by giving the student enough time to demonstrate mastery of course material. Instruction in the phonics method of reading (not offered at DSP) is an example of a service designed to remediate disability.

As part of your comprehensive assessment and evaluation process, your Disability Specialist will determine which services are necessary to assure your full participation in the academic program at UC Berkeley. Some students require program modifications, such as a reduced course load. Some students require auxiliary services, such as notetakers or laboratory assistants. Many students require academic adjustments, or modifications in instructional methods such as electronic textbooks and class handouts, extended time for examinations, or substitution of an essay for a class presentation. In combination, program modifications, auxiliary services, and academic adjustments are often referred to as "academic accommodations."

What are my responsibilities for ensuring that I receive the accommodations I am entitled to?

The individual assessment and accommodation process is an interactive one. Consult with your Disability Specialist if you are uncertain about the accommodations or services you believe you are eligible to receive. Try to participate fully in the process and exercise all due diligence in ensuring that the University is aware of your needs.

If I was eligible for disability services in high school, will I automatically be eligible for similar services at Cal?

IEP's and 504 Plans are not binding on the University of California or any organizations outside of the schools in which they were developed. Accordingly, you will not automatically be eligible for specific services or accommodations simply because you present your high school Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan.

To determine whether you are eligible for our services, one of our Disability Specialists will conduct a comprehensive assessment and evaluation process that is consistent with established University of California systemwide practices. The assessment and evaluation process will include, but not be limited to, interviews with you as well as a review of documentation provided by physicians and other clinicians (for example, clinical psychologists, audiologists, and optometrists). See the Disability Verification Requirements.

Please keep in mind that at UC Berkeley, students with disabilities are eligible to receive services if they meet the following criteria:

  • The students have documented physical, medical, and/or psychological conditions;
  • Their disabilities limit one or more major life activities; and
  • Appropriate professionals have verified that the students need individualized services, the absence of which would impede educational access.
Why did you request that I submit to more learning disability testing?

Additional or updated testing is normally requested when the existing testing does not give us enough information to determine appropriate services for you. You may review the specific criteria for the diagnosis of learning disabilities and the determination of appropriate service.

What do I have to do in order to prove that I have a disability?

Please see "Documentation for DSP" for more information.

If you have already sent us certification but we conclude that it either is not sufficient to support a disability diagnosis, or does not give us the information that we need to plan appropriate accommodations and services, we will send you a letter informing you of this fact and requesting additional materials.

Will I automatically receive services from DSP if I submit a "certification of disability" during the admissions application process?

No. Services are not provided by DSP automatically. All students seeking services through DSP must complete an application. If you are unable to complete the online application process, you can also request assistance in person from the Receptionist at the DSP office.

After applying online, you will receive an email confirming receipt of your application, the name of your disability Specialist, some useful information for you as well as a reminder to call the DSP Reception Desk to make an appointment with your assigned disability Specialist.

Please note that while it is not necessary for you to meet with your assigned Specialist before the beginning of August, anyone planning to attend Summer Bridge or who wishes to see their Specialist before or during the CalSO orientation may make advance appointments to do so.

Students who have not yet met with a Specialist for an Intake must make an appointment to meet with a Specialist to open a DSP file. Please see the Request Services page for information about the DSP registration process.

What can I do to help prevent problems related to students with disabilities in my classes?

Your responsibilities are to: 1) assure equal opportunity in your classes for all students, including those with disabilities who are qualified to be in your classes; and to 2) protect DSP students' confidentiality. You can also make sure all course-related websites are accessible to users with various disabilities, in particular those with print disabilities. See the Web Accessibility website.

Per Dr. Catherine Koshland, Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Education, February 18, 2015 e-mail to Faculty, she notes: 

"Each faculty has the responsibility* to identify instructional materials for his or her courses far enough in advance of the semester that the Disabled Students Program has adequate time to convert them into an accessible format, e.g., Braille, large print, digital/electronic. Timely submission of textbook adoptions enables the University to meet its legal requirement to provide students with disabilities an equal educational opportunity to learn course subject matter, to participate actively in classroom discussions, and to meet assignment deadlines." 

Dr Koshland further noted suggestions to increase accessibility:

  • Work with the Disabled Students Program to provide students with print disabilities a copy of the course textbook/reader in an accessible format (note: for conversion purposes, it is important that course-reader text be clean and legible);
  • Meet textbook/reader identification deadlines to allow timely conversion and thus equal educational opportunity for students with print disabilities.
  • For more tips, please visit

August 10, 2015, Dr. Claude Steele sent out an e-mail regarding various accommodations, including accommodations for students with disabilities:

Instructors are reminded of their responsibilities for accommodating disabilities in the classroom in the following areas:

  • Confidentiality:  Information about a student’s disability is confidential, and may not be shared with other students.
  •  Role of Instructor: Course instructors play a critical role in enabling the University to meet its obligation to appropriately accommodate students with disabilities who are registered with the Disabled Students Program (DSP) and who have been issues a Letter of Accommodation.
  • Reading Assignments in Advance:
  1. Because students with print disabilities usually need assistance from the DSP Alternative Media Center, reading materials should be provided well in advance (two or more weeks) before the reading assignment due date
  2. Required or Recommended: Always indicate which course readings (including bCourse postings) are either “required” readings, or “recommended.” 
  3. Accessible Format: Reading materials (especially bCourse postings) should be provided in an “accessible format,” e.g., clearly legible, “clean” (without stray marks, highlighting, or mark-ups), and whenever possible, in a Word Document or word-searchable PDF.

For more information about accommodations for students with disabilities, please contact the Disabled Students Program at 510-642-0518 . 

How do I arrange a wheelchair-accessible classroom?

Contact your Department Scheduler. S/he will make the necessary arrangements, including any contact with the Office of the Registrar. If you don't know who your Department Scheduler is, you can find out by calling 642-0313.

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

Students who work with DSP are strongly urged to communicate with instructors as soon as possible. However, the University must make every feasible effort to accommodate students regardless of the notice.

A specific answer to this question is contextual with the nature of the needed accommodation. For example, a student who has a vision impairment may need to use a dark pen and write in large print. Perhaps s/he will need to write the "short answers" on a separate sheet of paper instead of in the blank spaces on the test document itself. This accommodation really doesn't need any advance preparation, so not much advance notice may be needed. On the other hand, if a student's accommodation requires an instructor or the department to arrange a separate, quiet room; a proctor; or both, then more time is obviously needed. For such matters, especially when a department must arrange a proctor, the proctoring office needs advance notice of two weeks for midterms and six weeks for finals. This means students should make sure that they give their professors enough time to contact the proctoring office.

What if I am concerned about, or object to, a recommendation in DSP's "letter of accommodation?"

We encourage you to contact the DSP specialist who signed the Letter of Accommodation (LOA) if you have any concerns regarding the LOA, whether because you require more clarity, or whether you have concerns about the LOA possibly conflicting with the academic integrity of your course requirements. You are not obligated to fundamentally alter your course, nor are accommodations retroactive.

Please contact the DSP specialist on the LOA to discuss any concerns you may have. If you are concerned that the recommendation is not appropriate for your particular class, then you should contact the DSP Specialist that signed the letter. The DSP Advisors know that their recommendations can occasionally, inadvertently compromise the purposes or standards of a class, and are ready to discuss such concerns with you.

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

If a student requests accommodations, other than what you would normally provide any other student, then you should inform them to go to their DSP SCARAB login to request a "letter of accommodation" (LOA) from DSP to be sent to you. Once you have been sent the electronic copy of the LOA, then you are required to provide the stated accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive, so you are not responsible for provision of accommodations prior to receipt of the LOA. As a result, it is in the students' best interests to have the LOA sent to you as early as possible in the  semester.

The Letter of Accommodation sent by DSP constitutes the minimum accommodations you must provide to that student. However you are free to make any additional accommodations you deem reasonable (as you might with any other student) as long as these additional arrangements do not contradict the Letter of Accommodation issued by DSP.

See also other articles on this website.

Where can I get more information about disability accommodations?

The Disabled Students' Program has an online manual for faculty, "Teaching Students with Disabilities." For more general information, consult the Disabled Students' Program website.

Can I arrange proctoring online?

Yes. Please visit our online request page for information on the online submission process.

What if I have questions about the accommodation letter?

Letters of accommodation are online; there is a faculty login page that will give you access to the information. Please contact the Disabled Students' Program Specialist, 642-0518, who signed the letter or check the DSP FAQ. The main Berkeley policy addressing academic accommodations is the Campus Policy for Accommodating the Academic Needs of Students with Disabilities.

What advice can I give my students about their responsibility in the process?

The responsibility of students with disabilities in the exam accommodation process is outlined in "Exam Preparation Tips for Students with Disabilities Using the Campus Proctoring Service". It explains their role in planning for accommodations, securing assistants and equipment they may need, and how the centralized campus proctoring program works.

How far ahead must I request proctoring assistance?

Requests for midterms should be made two weeks prior to the regularly scheduled exam. For final exams requests should be made before our fall and spring deadline. Our set Final exam deadlines are: Nov. 1 for Fall Semester and April 2 for Spring Semester.

My department doesn't have resources to provide proctoring. What do I do next?

You (not the student) may contact the Campus Proctoring Service (643-4691, or make an online request, to arrange for centralized proctoring and space for administering the exam. You inform the student where and when to report.

Will someone from the campus proctoring service pick up and drop off the exam?

No. Exams need to be delivered to and picked up from 224 Moffitt Library by you or a person you designate. It may be possible to make alternative arrangements for testing-site pickup and delivery by calling 643-4691.