Frequently Asked Questions - Faculty

Frequently Asked DSP Questions from Faculty

Introduction

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 knielson@berkeley.edu.  Contact for specific service areas are below.

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.

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?

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

If an instructor would like us to reschedule a student’s exam, please email our office at proctoring@berkeley.edu. We will be happy to reschedule the exam at the instructor’s request. Please do not have students contact us directly to reschedule an exam. Exams can only be scheduled with faculty approval.