When a student is assigned a remote captioner, they will be responsible for bringing either a laptop or a tablet to class. If you are in need of one of these devices because you do not have one, please contact the Captioning Supervisor.
The student should notify the Captioning Supervisor as soon as possible that they will not be attending that class.
We recognize that there may be instances in which, due to unavoidable circumstances, a student may not be able to provide advance notice of being absent/late for class. If no advance notice is provided, captioners will wait for the student's arrival for 15 minutes after the start of class for a one-hour class, 20 minutes for two-hour classes, and 30 minutes for a three-hour class or longer.
Not necessarily. The assignment of a captioner will depend on scheduling and logistics. Each captioner will work with multiple students and will not work exclusively with one student for all of their classes.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
With the projected growing population of neurodiverse students entering 4 year universities in the next decade, it is advantageous for campus communities to design a culture that embraces and showcases neurodiversity acceptance and inclusion. The DSP Autism Services Program, Spectrum Connect, offers a training program for staff, faculty and allies to learn more about autism and best practices for accessibility on campus. We are seeking to build a community of faculty & staff that can act as advocates and educators for neurodivergent students. For more information about department training or community building opportunities, please complete the Campus Training Request Form provided on the Autism Spectrum Services main page or reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A student with autism has communicated to our GSI that they are having trouble finding lab partners and working collaboratively in group settings. What can they do to support them?
Autism diagnoses are often characterized by social and communication deficits. These barriers can make it very challenging for students to engage in the process of finding partners and to communicate effectively when working in pairs or small groups. It can be helpful to select student groups ahead of time to avoid the potential challenge of group outreach and matching. Another suggestion would be to meet with the student 1:1 to outline the components of a given lab or project and to identify portions of the assignment that the student can best showcase and contribute their strengths.
Offering check-ins with all group members to assist with any communication barriers that may arise, can be a proactive tool to prevent and/or remediate communication break-downs . In addition, it can be beneficial to all class members to model accessible practices for communication and collaborative work. For example, having an assigned note-taker in a group during break out sessions can ensure that all group members have access to the same information discussed during the meeting. Generating visual documents that allocate student-specific roles and project timelines can promote transparency and accessible tools for progress monitoring. Further, building in opportunity for students to express their preferred and most accessible methods of communication will help all students to achieve accessibility in collaborative work settings. For more tailored suggestions, please reach out to the student’s Disability Specialist.
A student who has disclosed an autism diagnosis is demonstrating unique behaviors in class. How do I learn more about the nature of these behaviors and initiate an open dialogue with the student about them?
As a general guideline, when communicating with a student with autism, it is important to utilize concise and direct language; try to avoid using figurative language or sarcasm. If a behavior is observed that a faculty or staff member has questions or concerns about, it is recommended to first meet with the student 1:1 to talk about the observed behavior. This meeting should occur before or after class and/or during office hours if accessible. Please keep in mind that observed behaviors could be a general misinterpretation or a result of a specific manifestation of disability, so it is important to gain the student’s perspective and insight about the behavior prior to jumping to conclusions.
Communicating the behavioral expectations for your course in writing can be an effective strategy for making sure that all students understand appropriate conduct and any associated implications for breaching course conduct. It is important to speak with the student 1:1 to try and identify any root cause of a given behavior. From there, faculty and staff can work with the student collaboratively to develop a plan for remediating the observed behavior if deemed necessary and appropriate. During this process, it is encouraged to reach out to the student’s Disability Specialist for further suggestions regarding accessible communication and intervention strategies.
The student is the best person to answer this question, as every student has their individual communication preferences. In general, direct, written communication has shown to be effective. It is common for students who have autism to identify as visual learners over auditory learners , so providing visual notes, structured outlines, checklists and timelines can be really effective for supportive communication. When meeting 1:1 with a student, writing down key takeaways from your discussion and sharing them with the student can ensure that the student walks away with clear answers to their questions and prioritized action steps. Students can also take their own notes and/or use their phone to take a picture of notes recorded during the meeting. Asking the student to summarize the discussion in a few sentences (written or verbal) can be a helpful strategy when checking for understanding. A student with autism may take additional time to process questions posed auditorily. If observed, as a general guideline, try to offer at least 10 seconds for student response before repeating the question or asking if the student requires clarification.
Generally speaking, knowing whether or not a student has autism in your class is not necessary in order to implement supportive communication and teaching strategies that could potentially benefit all students in your course. Examples of such strategies can include designing a course syllabus that is structured with explicit information about course objectives, assignment breakdowns, office hours, and further opportunities for progress monitoring support. Offering visual content such as powerpoint presentations to all students and/or recordings of direct instruction can make a classroom environment more accessible for all students. For more information on universal design for learning (UDL) principles in higher education, please refer to the faculty resources page on this site.
If you suspect that a student may have an autism diagnosis, you may include the Disabled Students’ Program as one of the available services that you offer to the student for further connection and support on campus. Disability disclosure is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); please avoid asking any student directly if they identify with having a disability.
Parents and Allies
May a postsecondary institution disclose to a parent, without the student’s consent, information regarding a student’s violation of the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance?
Yes, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure. FERPA was amended in 1998 to allow such disclosures. See § 99.31(a)15 of the FERPA regulations. Also, if the student is a “dependent student” as defined in FERPA, the institution may disclosure such information, regardless of the age of the student.
What if my child is a minor and he or she is taking classes at a local college while still in high school – do I have rights?
If a student is attending a postsecondary institution – at any age – the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school.
Can a postsecondary institution disclose financial records of an eligible student with the student’s parents?
If the student is a dependent for income tax purposes, the institution may disclose any education records, including financial records to a student’s parents. If the student is not a dependent, then the student must generally provide consent for the school to disclose the information to the parents.
If I am a parent of a college student, do I have the right to see my child’s education records, especially if I pay the bill?
As noted above, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student, once the student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age. However, although the rights under FERPA have now transferred to the student, a school may disclose information from an “eligible student’s” education records to the parents of the student, without the student’s consent, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes. Neither the age of the student nor the parent’s status as a custodial parent is relevant. If a student is claimed as a dependent by either parent for tax purposes, then either parent may have access under this provision. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(8).)
FERPA defines “directory information” as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Typically, “directory information” includes information such as name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and dates of attendance. A school may disclose “directory information” to third parties without consent if it has given public notice of the types of information which it has designated as “directory information,” the parent’s or eligible student’s right to restrict the disclosure of such information, and the period of time within which a parent or eligible student has to notify the school in writing that he or she does not want any or all of those types of information designated as “directory information.” The means of notification could include publication in various sources, including a newsletter, in a local newspaper, or in the student handbook. The school could also include the “directory information” notification as part of the general notification of rights under FERPA. The school does not have to notify a parent or eligible student individually. (34 CFR § 99.37.)
There are several exceptions to FERPA’s general prior consent rule that are set forth in the statute and the regulations. See § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. One exception is the disclosure of “directory information” if the school follows certain procedures set forth in FERPA. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(11).)
Educational agencies and institutions are required to notify parents and eligible students about their rights under FERPA. Section 99.7 of the FERPA regulations sets forth the requirements for the notification and there is a model notification on this Web site. Schools do not have to individually notify parents and eligible students but do have to notify them by any means that are reasonably likely to inform the parents or eligible students of their rights.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student (“eligible student”). The FERPA statute is found at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and the FERPA regulations are found at 34 CFR Part 99.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No. Exams need to be delivered to and picked up from 260 Chavez by you or a person you designate. It may be possible to make alternate arrangements for testing site, pickup, and delivery by calling 643-4691.
Including CART and American Sign Language (ASL)
If the student chooses not to sit with the captioner, they will need to either pick up a tablet from the captioner or bring their own device to access captions.
Captioners will not define unfamiliar terms or explain course content for the student, take notes, hand out documents, or attend class in the event that the student is absent.
In the event that a class is cancelled, the student will need to notify the Captioning Supervisor as soon as possible.
The captioner will sit where they are able to hear the instructor and see the visual presentations. The student can sit next to the captioner or may use a tablet if they wish to sit elsewhere in the room.
Please request RTC accommodations through AIM for any class changes or newly added classes. Please notify the Captioning Supervisor once the AIM changes have been made.
In the event that a class is cancelled, the student will need to notify the ASL/Captioning Supervisor as soon as possible.
Submit captioning requests to DSP Captioning via: Captioned Media Request Form. This includes all media, including bCourses videos, embedded PowerPoint videos, videos listed on your syllabus, YouTube, TED Talks, Zoom lectures, and raw MP4 files.
The turnaround time for DSP captioning is within 3 business days. Contact email@example.com for any questions regarding this process.
For DVDs or digitized/streaming media, go to OskiCat.Berkeley.edu to search for the DVD/movie you need captioned. Send the call number to firstname.lastname@example.org. The turnaround time to caption a DVD is 1 week.
*This is not a guarantee due to the new shelter-in-place directives. The earlier we receive a list of DVDs needed, the better our chances will be of securing a digitized streaming version with captions for your student.
Expedited requests: We understand last-minute changes and will do our best to get any last-minute request back to you. Reasonable attempts will be made to accommodate the request; however, there is no guarantee that videos submitted after 12:00 p.m. will be captioned the same day.
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.
The student should notify the Captioning Supervisor as soon as possible that they will not be attending class. We recognize that there may be instances in which, due to unavoidable circumstances, a student may not be able to provide advance notice of being absent/late for class. If no advance notice is provided, captioners will wait for the student's arrival for 15 minutes after the start of class for a one-hour class, 20 minutes for a two-hour class, and 30 minutes for a three-hour class or longer.
Students who arrive at class after the captioner has logged off are requested to contact the Captioning Supervisor.
Students can use a portable device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to view the captioning stream.
No. Captions aid in comprehension, accuracy, engagement, and retention for many persons without hearing loss as well.
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.
*A warning about YouTube videos: Often, YouTube videos show the “CC” symbol indicating they are captioned. However, if you click on the “CC” symbol and it says “English (Auto Generated),” these captions are produced using voice recognition software and fall below ADA and UC Berkeley quality standards. When used in the classroom, auto-generated captions may limit accessibility for the student with a hearing loss.
The auto-generated captions are sometimes so inaccurate that they prohibit proper comprehension of the material being presented. It is required you always review the entire YouTube video to check the quality of the captions before showing it in class. If captions do not meet ADA and University requirements, you should request that the DSP have them captioned.
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.
Automatic captions do not meet caption quality or legal standards that apply to video captioning. Captions must relay the speaker’s exact words with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar with 99% accuracy. Captions may not be paraphrased and must honor the original tone and intent of the speaker. Sounds, music, and other environmental noises must also appear.
For shorter videos of ten minutes or less, please allow up to a one-week turnaround. For longer videos, please allow up to two weeks. For last-minute media captioning requests, please contact DSP-Captioning@Berkeley.edu directly to have your request expedited. Please plan accordingly. If videos are not captioned, they may not be shown in class or be required to view outside of class time. Please submit videos with as much advance notice as possible.
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.
The captioner or interpreter may be unfamiliar with the terminology, names, locations, song lyrics, or subject-specific information contained in the video. This unfamiliarity may result in inaccurate translation/captions. Interpreters and captioners are able to translate one voice at a time. If people in the video speak over one another, or if a professor speaks during the video presentation, some dialog would not be relayed to the student. Videos that contain quality captions ensure students receive equal access to the information being presented.
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.
Captions are intended to provide access to people who are unable to hear. Unlike subtitles, captions include the spoken word, sound effects, music description, and identification of speakers.
If there is a student in your class requiring captioned media, you may not play uncaptioned media.
However, with sufficient time, it is possible to obtain captioned materials. Please check your DVDs, CDs, videotapes, and web videos well in advance to determine if they are captioned or not. If your material is not captioned, contact email@example.com about the procedures for getting materials captioned.
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 University policy
If there is a student in your classroom who has a captioned media accommodation, you may not play uncaptioned films, clips, YouTube/Vimeo videos or other media. Please obtain films or video clips with captions whenever you plan to use them in class. Not all professionally produced films on DVD and VHS will have closed captions. Please check accordingly before you intend to show the media.
Non-compliance with the above legal mandates could result in a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in which the university and/or the faculty/staff could be held legally liable.
Captioned media displays spoken words as text and includes speaker identifications, sound effects, and music description.
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.
Many of your questions may be answered in our DSP Student Handbook
Some of the questions students frequently ask are also answered below.
Cal students registered with the Disabled Student Program can schedule hour-long one-on-one appointments with an experienced Career Counselor(link is external) to support their career exploration, preparation, and job seeking as an employee with a disability.
Berkeley Career Services for Students with Disabilities(link is external)
The leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.
Job Accommodation Network(link is external)
A college-to-career program that develops independent job search skills in recently graduated and soon-to-be graduating college students with disabilities.
Center for Independent Living - College to Career(link is external)
A downloadable guide for students with disabilities about getting and making the most of an internship.
NCLD - "Internships: The On-Ramp to Employment"(link is external)
The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) assists Californians with disabilities obtain and retain employment and maximize their ability to live independently.
DOR - Employment Services(link is external)
CAPS offers short-term counseling for academic, career, and personal issues and also offers psychiatry services for circumstances when medication can help with counseling. There is no charge to get started, and all registered students can access services regardless of their insurance plan.
University Health Services - Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)(link is external)
Inclusive Recreation is a collaborative campus commitment to support and advance sports and recreation programs for the 3,000+ Cal community members with disabilities.
UC Berkeley Inclusive Recreational Sports (link is external)
Be Well at Cal is a University Health Services effort to encourage students to take care of themselves in all aspects of their lives.
Be Well @Cal(link is external)
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders.
National Institute on Mental Health(link is external)
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
National Alliance on Mental Illness(link is external)
"Angst" is an IndieFlix Original documentary designed to raise awareness around anxiety.
Angst Documentary(link is external)
Active Minds is the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for young adults.
Active Minds - Self-Care and Mental Health(link is external)
Archive of individuals with oral histories or personal papers in the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement collection and organizations with historical records.
Bancroft Library - The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement(link is external)
Contains work on intersectionality, the autistic movement, racial justice, queer and trans experiences, and disability rights.
Lydia X. Z. Brown - Autistic Hoya (link is external)
The Disability History Museum hosts a Library of virtual artifacts, education curricula, and museum exhibits. These programs are designed to foster research and study about the historical experiences of people with disabilities and their communities.
Disability History Museum(link is external)
Sins Invalid is committed to social and economic justice for all people with disabilities.
Sins Invalid - Disability Justice Performance Project(link is external)
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism.
Autistic Self-Advocacy Network(link is external)
An annual disability film festival.
SuperFest Disability Film Festival(link is external)
Blog by Emily Ladau that shares her passion for disability rights and social justice.
Emily Ladau - Words to Wheel By(link is external)
Books and articles and films by disabled, d(D)eaf, chronically ill and neurodivergent majority Black and brown people, many queer and trans, writing about fighting ableism, disabled lives, political struggles, communities and histories, sharing skills and organizing tactics and art, making revolution
Seattle Public Library - Disability Justice Reader(link is external)
Dr. Nick Walker’s notes on neurodiversity, autism, and self-liberation.
Nick Walker's, "Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions"(link is external)
A method to help others experience what life as a chronic pain patient is like with its choices and trade-offs.
Christina Miserandino's "Spoon Theory"(link is external)
Krip-Hop Nation’s mission is to educate the music, media industries and general public about the talents, history, rights and marketability of Hip-Hop artists and other musicians with disabilities.
Krip-Hop Nation(link is external)
An online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.
Access is Love Campaign(link is external)
A groundbreaking summer camp galvanizes a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality.
“Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” on Netflix(link is external)
A podcast focused on creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.
Disability Visibility Podcast(link is external)
Mel Bagg demonstrates her experience with autism. She shows what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, communication, and what does not.
Mel Bagg's, (link is external)“In My Language”(link is external)
A resource for families and adults living with ADHD and related conditions and the professionals who work with them.
ADDitude Magazine(link is external)
The Disability Studies field explores how to best meet the challenges and alleviate the problems of those with impairments or disabilities, with emphasis on the role of those affected in defining problems and evaluating solutions.
Disability Studies at UC Berkeley(link is external)
The Disability Studies Cluster aims to support theoretical and applied research, policy analysis, teaching and community partnership on disability issues at local, national and global levels.
Othering and Belonging Institute (link is external)
Through public education, scholarship and cultural events, the Paul K. Longmore Institute shares disability history and theory, promotes critical thinking and builds a broader community.
Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability(link is external)
Hosts a variety of volunteering, mentoring, and fundraising events throughout the year that help promote acceptance and empower the Berkeley autism community.
Spectrum @Cal(link is external)
Serves as the representative undergraduate voice on mental health, acting as the central liaison between mental health stakeholders, addressing the intersectionalities of mental health.
ASUC Mental Health Commission(link is external)
Promotes disability-empowerment initiatives by advocating for universally accessible spaces/programs and promoting disability as a sociocultural identity.
Student Coalition for Disability Rights(link is external)
A mentoring program that trains high school and college students with learning differences, including dyslexia and ADHD, to mentor similarly-identified middle school students.
Eye to Eye(link is external)
Develops community organizing activities to build a power base among youth with disabilities.
Yo! Disabled and Proud(link is external)
Advocates for student rights, increased accessibility, social and policy change, and aims to provide support and mentorship to local campus disability groups and individual students.
DREAM: Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring(link is external)
Provides accessible housing to meet the needs of everyone.
Berkeley Housing Accomodations(link is external)
Oversees nondiscrimination laws that require housing providers to grant requests for reasonable accommodations and modifications in housing, programs, and activities.
HUD - Housing Rights(link is external)
Advises currently registered Cal students regarding their legal questions, rights, and obligations.
UC Berkeley Student Legal Services(link is external)
Works to advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development.
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)(link is external)
Helps improve your understanding, recall, and retention of textbook material.
SQ3R - Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review(link is external)
A video tutorial about the SQ3R Reading Method.
SQ3R Video Tutorial(link is external)
A video detailing five methods to begin reading faster.
College Info Geek, "Five Ways to Read Faster"(link is external)
A set of tools within bCourses that helps make course content more accessible.
bCourse Ally - Alternative Formats Tool(link is external)
Automatically convert documents into a range of alternate media including audio books (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3 and Mobi) and digital Braille. It can also be used to convert inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files, JPG pictures and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into more accessible formats.
Sensus Access - Alt Formats Conversion Tool(link is external)
Provides instant access to eTextbooks and a full suite of study tools on any device, both online and offline. Includes numerous accessibility features.
Vital Source eTextbook (link is external)
Helps students build confidence in their writing and enhances their ability to express rich ideas thoughtfully.
College Writing Program - Writing Across Berkeley(link is external)
Writing worksheets, resources, and workshops that help students develop their writing skills.
SLC - Writing Worksheets(link is external)
UCB Library guide for citing sources, reading citations, and citation management tools.
UC Berkeley Library - Citing Your Sources(link is external)
Step-by-step instructions detailing how to write a paper from start to finish.
Excelsior Online Writing Lab(link is external)
Assists students in their development as writers.
Purdue Online Writing Lab(link is external)
A writing tool that can be used to locate grammar and punctuation mistakes, spell check, detect plagiarism, and also provides suggestions and feedback on your writing.
Grammarly (link is external)
The Learning Scientists make scientific research on learning more accessible to students, teachers, and other educators.
The Learning Scientists(link is external)
Study skills guides for students that provide everything you need in order to learn effectively.
Education Corner - Study Skills for Students(link is external)
Tips and tools for studying, productivity, reading comprehension, and testing.
UNC at Chapel Hill - Academic Tips & Tools(link is external)
This channel is a place to learn strategies about having and living with ADHD.
"How to ADHD" Channel(link is external)
A time management framework that helps improve focus and productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique(link is external)
The UC Berkeley Library provides special assistance to library users with disabilities in their use of the library and its resources.
UC Berkeley Library - Disability Resources(link is external)
The Student Learning Center is the premier undergraduate academic support unit at UC Berkeley.
Student Learning Center(link is external)
The Center for Access to Engineering Excellence is open to all Berkeley Engineering students for use as study space. Offers drop-in tutoring services for most engineering core courses.
Center for Access to Engineering Excellence(link is external)
Provides peer-to-peer tutoring for undergraduates in the College of Chemistry.
College of Chemistry Undergraduate Tutoring(link is external)
A one-stop-shop for academic support, services, and resources for students living in the residence halls.
Residential Life Academic Support(link is external)
Provides disability-related information, resources, and programs in the City of Berkeley.
City of Berkeley - Disability Resources(link is external)
A list of ADHD/LD providers that administer testing.
ADHD/LD Testing Referrals(link is external)
The California Department of Rehabilitation provides services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living, and equality for individuals with disabilities.
Department of Rehabilitation(link is external)
The Center for Independent Living provides advocacy and services that increase awareness, collaboration, and opportunity among people with disabilities and the community at large.
Center for Independent Living(link is external)
Ed Roberts Campus is dedicated to fostering collaboration and improving the services and opportunities for people with disabilities. The campus houses the offices of collaborating organizations, fully accessible meeting rooms, a computer/media resource center, a fitness center, a cafe, and a child development center.
Ed Roberts Campus(link is external)
LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides education, training, advocacy, and community for blind individuals in California and around the world.
Lighthouse for the Blind(link is external)
Provides seniors and people with disabilities non-medical emergency services and other essential support to enable and enhance independent living.
Easy Does It Services(link is external)
Provides personalized support to enable individuals with disabilities to live in their homes, to work jobs of their choosing, and to participate in all aspects of the community.
East Bay Innovations(link is external)
The Basic Needs Center serves as a space for students to create community and access coordinated basic needs services.
UC Berkeley Basic Needs(link is external)
CalFresh is California's food stamps (SNAP) program.
CalFresh(link is external)
Social Security offers an online disability application you can complete at your convenience.
Social Security Disability Benefits(link is external)
Are you thinking of applying to scholarships to fund your research (or your tuition) and don’t know where to start? This article offers 8 tips to get your planning on the right track.
Tips & Tricks for Scholarship Applications(link is external)
UCB Scholarship Connection helps students looking for extra money to fund their education, research proposal, or community service project.
Berkeley Scholarship Connection(link is external)
Find financial aid and scholarship facts, forms, important deadlines, and other essential information.
Berkeley Prizes and Honors(link is external)
A list of the current national disability scholarships offered by various foundations and organizations.
National Scholarships for Students with Disabilities(link is external)
Student tools and resources for managing money, paying for school, and career planning.
iGrad - Bears for Financial Success(link is external)
You can use the chat window in Zoom to communicate with the captioner. The captioner will be named "Captioning" in the participant list. Please send all messages to the captioner privately.
You can also use the Streamtext chat window to communicate with the captioner.
If you have a library book that needs conversion, please use the Library's scanning services. You will receive an email with a link to a PDF and a DOCX. If the document you received needs further editing, please feel free to request this file from the Alternative Media Unit of DSP.
I am a graduate student and need alternative formats for non-course related academic work. Can I request alternative formats for these titles?
If you own a book that needs conversion, whether it is required for a class or not, please request a conversion from DSP's Alternative Media Unit by logging into AIM. You will need to provide a receipt or proof of ownership for any copyrighted materials.
Note: If you have a lot of books that you need converted, we recommend that you make an appointment with Alt Media staff so that we can prioritize what to convert.
Books/course materials containing clean text (i.e. a novel) take 10-17 business days to process. Books containing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), graphs, tables, or poor quality/markups (highlighting, underlining, writing, blurry text) generally take longer than 10 business days. For detailed information please read our Alternative Media Guidelines.
Please email the Alternative Media Supervisor with details of what is not working for you. Your format could be adjusted or changed.
Fill out the Alternative Media Notice form as soon as possible. This will allow us to contact your instructor or course department for book and course material information. We will email you information as we receive it.
The Disabled Students' Program hosts drop-in hours with our liaisons in L&S Undergraduate Advising, Financial Aid, and the Department of Rehabilitation.
Thursdays 1:15-4:00 PM
Starting each Thursday at noon, you may stop by the DSP front desk in 260 Chavez to sign in for a same-day appointment with L&S College Adviser Emilio Alvarado.
Wednesdays 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Starting at the beginning of the week, you may stop by the DSP office in 260 Chavez or call the DSP receptionist at 510-642-0518 to make an appointment with Financial Aid and Scholarships Office Counselor Gabrielle Turner.
Department of Rehabilitation
Last Monday of every month
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Nisha Grayson is at DSP the last Monday of each month to meet with DOR clients and with DSP students who are interested in exploring services through the Department of Rehabilitation.
Disability Specialists hold daily drop-in hours for students on their caseloads. Students sign in for drop-ins at the front desk kiosk in 260 Chavez unless otherwise noted. Drop-in hours can be found on your specialist's profile.
Will you discuss my progress at Cal with my parents or answer their questions if they write or phone?
We encourage you to keep in close personal contact with your family throughout your years at Cal. However, DSP cannot normally discuss any information about students' progress at Berkeley with a third party, including parents, guardians, partners, and children. 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 http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.
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 or guardian, 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 http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.
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 students' 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: Request and discuss a FERPA release form from any DSP specialist.
- Step 2: Sign the release form in the presence of a DSP specialist. To prevent coercion, force, and release of records to unauthorized parties, students 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: The 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?
The laws that address students' access to K-12 education and to postsecondary education offer different protections to students and result in different accommodations.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act covers public school students with disabilities in the United States from elementary school through high school and focuses on student success. Students with disabilities are provided with the curriculum and accomodations they require to be successful in meeting their individualized goals. In some cases, this means that students with disabilities are meeting different goals than their peers without disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act covers students with disabilities in postescondary settings and focuses on student access. Students with disabilities are provided with accommodations that remove barriers in the academic environment to help ensure that they can participate equally. However, the goals and standards that students with disabilities are required to meet must remain the same as the goals and standards that students without disabilities are required to meet.
Certain accommodations that some students received in high school would typically be considered modifications of course standards in college and would be unlikely to be approved. (i.e. completing only the odd-numbered problems on math homework, having multiple attempts to pass written exams, or having open-book or untimed exams).
You may also find that Berkeley has the ability to offer you accommodations that your high school could not. For instance, you may have had a peer note taker provide you with class notes in high school. At Berkeley, you may find that you are instead approved to utilize technology that will allow you to take notes independently.
In your intake appointment, your Disability Specialist will want to know about your past accommodations as you work together to determine your current appropriate accommodations. If you have questions about why a specific accommodation from high school is not recommended as one of your accommodations in college, be sure to ask your Disability Specialist.
Students have multiple responsibilities in ensuring that they receive their accommodations.
The individual assessment and accommodation process is an ongoing and interactive one. Participate actively in your intake appointment. If the nature or impact of your disability changes, or if your accommodations no longer seem sufficient to provide you with equal access to your courses, let your assigned Disability Specialist know. You can meet with your Disability Specialist to review your current documentation, schedule, and accommodations.
Once you are active in DSP, you are responsible for requesting your accommodation letters every semester in a timely manner. This provides instructors with the notice of the accommodations you will need for equal access to their courses.
If your instructor does not provide you with a needed accommodation, you are responsible for notifying your assigned Disability Specialist as soon as possible so your Disability Specialist can assist you.
If you have questions or concerns about your accommodations, you are responsible for contacting your Disability Specialist for assistance.
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.
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.
Disability documentation must verify two things: (1) the presence of a diagnosed disability or medical condition and (2) the current impact of the diagnosed disability or medical condition. For detailed information about documentation requirements and for forms that you can give to your medical providers to fill out, see Documentation.
If you have already sent us documentation 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 email you to request additional information.
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. Once you are admitted to UC Berkeley, you will need to apply for accommodations by completing an application, submitting disability documentation, and scheduling an intake appointment. If you are unable to complete the online application, you can also request assistance in person from the receptionist at the DSP office in 260 Chavez.
After applying online, you will receive an email confirming receipt of your application, the name of your Disability Specialist, some useful information for you, and a reminder to call the DSP Reception Desk at 510-642-0518 to make an appointment with your assigned Disability Specialist.
Frequently Asked DSP Questions from Faculty
There are more than 3500 students with disabilities at UC Berkeley today including undergraduates and graduate students. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, our students with disabilities have a right to full access to all of UC Berkeley’s academic environments.
The Disabled Students’ Program is the campus department that has the responsibility of determining which accommodations, services, and adjustments each student needs to address barriers in the academic environment. We do this by reviewing medical, psychological, and educational documentation and interviewing the student regarding their past educational experiences.
If a requested accommodation alters an objective or standard of your course, then it may not be a reasonable accommodation.
- If a student with a vision impairment is taking a language course that requires manually producing the written language with its characters, a request to use a word processor and type the words would most likely not be a reasonable accommodation.
- If a student in a PE course missed enough foundational skills classes and there is no way to make up for the missed skill practice, additional absences may not be reasonable.
- If you are concerned that an accommodation request is not reasonable in your course, please contact the DSP specialist who sent the accommodation letter right away. Please do NOT discuss your concerns with the student.
- We hope that the information below answers many of your questions about DSP and accommodating students with disabilities. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact any Disability Specialist or the DSP Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact for specific service areas are below.
You can use the chat window in Zoom to communicate with the captioner. The captioner will be named "Captioning" in the participant list. Please send all messages to the captioner privately.
If the media has audio and video, you need to have it captioned. A transcript is not sufficient.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are a faculty member or GSI who needs to convert an exam into an alternative format, please send an email to email@example.com in which you share with us the following information:
In your email, you can share with us your exam as an attachment in MS Word or PDF format. We prefer MS Word.
Please send us any requests for the conversion of exams into an alternative format at least three business days before the date of the exam.
Note: If you have already arranged to have your exam by DSP Proctoring, please let us know the date and the location of the proctored exam. We will send your converted exam to our DSP partners once we have finished the exam conversion and CC you.
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?
Use the accessibility checker for the format of your document.
Google Docs: Use the GrackleDocs Add-on
MS Word Documents: Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker
PowerPoint Presentations: Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker
EPUBs: ACE by DAISY app
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 you need to scan a book, use one of the Scannex scanners in the Library. These scanners can perform optical character recognition (OCR) which enable you to create a searchable PDF version of your document.
When you are scanning, we recommend that you follow the best practices for creating quality scans.
Note: Searchable PDFs are not the same thing as accessible PDFs. Accessible PDFs must be tagged PDFs. Please see the information below about SensusAccess and accessible PDFs for more information.
SensusAccess is a document conversion tool that you can use to create more accessible versions of your documents. For example, if you have an image-only PDF file, SensusAccess can convert the PDF into more accessible formats such as DOCX, Tagged PDF, and TXT.
SensusAccess is an automated conversion tool, so the quality of the original document will determine the quality of the conversion. Please review the best practices for creating quality scans. In addition, please see these tips that can help with cleaning up SensusAccess conversions.
Ally in bCourses
Ally is a built-in component of bCourses that allows instructors to check the accessibility of the documents that they have uploaded to their course. Ally displays indicators that signal the accessibility of the document. Watch the Ally Getting Started video for an example.
If the documents that you upload to bCourses have a low accessibility score, follow the recommended steps for remediating the document.
When you create Google Docs, use the Grackle Docs add-on to check the accessibility of your doc. Grackle Docs will help you learn about any accessibility issues in your Google Doc as well as recommend steps to fix those issues.
Read more information about how to create accessible Google Docs.
Read more information about how to create accessible Word Documents.
Read more information about how to create accessible Word Documents.
Read more information about how to create accessible PowerPoint Presentations.
In your preferred word processing program, adjust your documents so that they have these settings:
20 pt size font
Fixed space font: Arial, Helvetica, Verdana
1.5 line spacing
Use 6pt spacing after paragraphs
Sufficient color contrast. Do not use colors to show importance
use larger size font for headings
use double spacing for lists
isolate graphics / charts on separate pages (you can insert a manual page break to achieve this)
Create an accessible MS Word document. Use the DAISY WordToEPUB tool to create an accessible EPUB.
Read more information about how to use the DAISY WordToEPUB tool.
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 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. Indicate on your sylabus which readings are required and recommended.
Search for electronic versions of your course materials using one of UC Berkeley’s online catalogs. If you post links to PDF articles available through one of UC Berkeley’s Library subscriptions, search for accessible versions of these PDF files. Retain a digital copy of the PDF file that you can easily share with DSP in case remediation is necessary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to cancel the student’s reservation. Space is limited, and we schedule proctors and locations based on the number of reservations.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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 and may be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct.
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.
If an instructor would like us to reschedule a student’s exam, please email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. Include the 5-digit Course Catalogue Number (CCN) in the subject line.
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.
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 students who qualify for and apply for disability services. Nationally, 10%-15% of college students are students with disabilities. At UC Berkeley, 9% of undergraduates and 1.8% of graduate students are students with disabilities who utilize DSP services. We anticipate serving more than 4,000 students with disabilities by 2022. It is important to note that as the campus continues to increase enrollments, the number of students with disabilities who require services will increase as well.
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 the accommodations described in the letter. If a student has not yet registered for services with DSP, please encourage the student to apply for services, and please avoid providing informal disability accommodations.
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 requiring the student to first complete an intake appointment with DSP. You can then let the student know that what you are providing is not a formal disability accommodation, and that if they anticipate requesting future accommodations, they will need to provide you with an accommodation letter from DSP. Students who request intake appointments with DSP can typically schedule an appointment within two weeks if they have disability documentation available.
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. Students are then asked to submit documentation of disability from an appropriate medical provider confirming both the presence of a disability and the impact of that disability. The student then needs to attend an intake appointment with a Disability Specialist. During this meeting, the student and Disability Specialist will identify any barriers to equal access and participation that the student may encounter based on the impact of their disability and the characteristics of the academic environment in which the student is participating. Accommodations are then determined in order to eliminate or mitigate the barriers that have been identified.
As the impact of students’ disabilities and the nature of the requirements of their academic curriculum may change over time, accommodations may be revisited and revised to ensure that they are still appropriate to provide the student with equal access to their academic experience at UC Berkeley.
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 accommodation.
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 to this change.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, DSP must conduct intakes and assessments and initiate reasonable accommodations and services for students with disabilities whenever they apply for initial services or request new accommodations. We (as a university) cannot set limits for when students can request disability accommodations. That said, sometimes it is difficult to accommodate last-minute requests, particularly for exam accommodations. If an instructor has difficulty accommodating a last-minute request, they can reach out to the student’s assigned Disability Specialist, and DSP will assist whenever possible.
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 accommodations in a student’s accommodation letter, contact the Disability Specialist who signed the letter. Please do not discuss your concerns with the student.
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 matter is referred by DSP to the Vice Provost for Faculty Welfare. The Vice Provost for Faculty Welfare determines whether the accommodation is appropriate and will either direct DSP to issue a revised accommodation letter or inform the student that the existing accommodation letter will be observed by the instructor. DSP, not the student, is responsible for managing disagreements between DSP and an instructor. Please do not discuss your concerns with the student, but instead reach out to the student’s assigned Disability Specialist directly. More information about DSP’s Complaint Resolution Process is available here: DSP Complaint Process.
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 instructor before their accommodations are implemented.
The issuance of an accommodation letter is considered legal notice of a student’s need for accommodations. Instructors are responsible for implementing students’ accommodations whether students request accommodations in person or not. If you are unsure of the accommodation needs of a student who has not reached out to you or who is not responding to your outreach, you can contact the student’s assigned Disability Specialist for assistance and guidance about how to proceed. The student’s Disability Specialist is listed at the end of the student’s accommodation letter.
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.
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
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?
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. Other students have disabilities that may impact their processing or stamina in predictable ways and may know clearly how much additional time they need beyond that allotted to their peers who do not share their disability identity. In addition, some students will need extensions on some types of assignments and not others, depending on the nature of the tasks required to complete the assignments.
While we encourage students to contact their instructors in advance of requesting an assignment extension, not all students do. A student's not doing so is not sufficient grounds to deny the accommodation. If you have questions about implementing a specific student's accommodations, the best point of contact other than the student will be that student's Disability Specialist. Contact information for the Disability Specialist is provided at the end of each student’s accommodation letter. Faculty are encouraged to meet with the student’s Disability Specialist when they receive a request for extensions to discuss and make a plan for implementation.
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 provide equal access to ask the student to continue to engage with the course material and maintain full preparation to take the exam for another semester while the student is also engaging with the coursework for their current semester.
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.
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.
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.
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 whom an environment, task, item, or program has been designed, and for whom the current or proposed design creates a barrier to access. We are then asked to consider the modifications to the environment, task, item, or program that could be implemented to remove the identified barriers so all who would like to participate can do so.
Shaw, Scott, and McGuire’s 2001 article Principles of Universal Design for Instruction is a good introduction to the nine principles of Universal Design and how they can be applied to increasing the accessibility of your classes and assignments. Lead Disability Specialist, Carolyn Swalina, is available to consult with faculty who would like to discuss increasing the accessibility of their courses and assignments. Faculty can contact Carolyn to request an individual consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional infomation on teaching and inclusive design can be found here: Teaching and Inclusive Design
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 the student’s letter of accommodations. This may include: live captioning for lectures, video captioning, accessible documents (documents formatted for access with assistive technology), extra time for timed online exams, and more. If you have questions about any accommodation, please contact the Disability Specialist who signed the letter of accommodation.
Faculty are encouraged to consider creating accessible courses, and there are many resources on our website to assist with that. For video captioning without an accommodation request, please work with your department.
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: Accommodating in the online classroom
Individual consultations with Digital Learning Services: Schedule your consultation here