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.

A student in my class receives alternative media. What do I do?

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.

Why do students receive exam accommodations?

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.

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...

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...

Can I send an email to all of my DSP students?

Yes, please be sure to use bcc to not violate the privacy of your DSP students.