Frequently Asked Questions - Faculty

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. 

For Example:

  • 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  Contact for specific service areas are below.

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

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

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

Are students required to speak with faculty to initiate accommodations?

We do encourage students to have a conversation with their instructors about their accommodations. These conversations can be helpful for both parties. DSP Disability Specialists can also help facilitate these conversations and assist faculty with setting up an agreement with students about accommodations (for example, Disability Specialists can help instructors and students determine the parameters for acceptable numbers of absences or timelines for assignment extensions). However, we cannot require students to have a conversation about their accommodations with their...

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

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

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...

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...

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

If an instructor would like us to reschedule a student’s exam, please email our office at 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.

Can DSP Proctoring proctor exams during RRR week?

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

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

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

Can I relocate students during an exam?

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

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

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

Student name

Student ID

Class name

Professor name


Exam date

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