DSP Policies

DSP has student policies to guide our students on using our services, provide for the fair resolution of complaints and concerns, and establish consistency in our practices. Some of the most important student policies follow below. University and systemwide policies may be found here. 

What Are Accommodations? 

Accommodations are adjustments to policies, procedures, and practices that serve to remove barriers and allow students with disabilities to have equal access to participate in their academic programs.

Initial accommodations are confirmed in students' intake appointments. Revisions to accommodations may be made throughout students' enrollment at Berkeley, as the impact and nature of students' disability identities may change. The requirements of students' academic programs may also change over time.

Accommodations are individualized, and students who have the same disability identity may find that they are using different accommodations in accordance with their own disability experience and academic program of study. Below is information about some of the more common accommodations students participating in DSP utilize.

You will find many of the answers to your questions about accommodations in our Student Handbook.

Priority Class Enrollment

Priority class enrollment is an accommodation provided to eligible DSP students for a variety of disability-related needs. However, with this priority comes student responsibilities to use this service appropriately.  

For example, if you require more time to navigate from one class to another due to mobility limitations, then your course enrollment process should include scheduling adequate time to transition from class to class without having schedule overlaps. In another example, if you require a specific classroom layout, you should consult with your Disability Specialist prior to enrollment so that the courses can be scheduled appropriately. Required needs for priority enrollment should be discussed with your DSP Specialist.

It is your responsibility to ensure class and final exam schedules do not pose schedule conflicts with required accommodations while enrolling for the next semester. For example, extended times on exams, particularly finals, must be considered at the time of enrollment. Extended time on exams could conflict with another scheduled final exam. A main consideration during your priority course enrollment should be reviewing your final exam schedule, calculating the impact of any exam accommodations required, and ensuring course enrollment does not pose any conflicts.

Priority class enrollment is your opportunity to make timely requests for DSP services that are required each semester, particularly auxiliary services. Once you have enrolled in courses, you are encouraged to immediately request your authorized accommodations for each class via SCARAB. The following are examples of authorized accommodations:

  • Alternative Media requests
  • Mobility consultations/Room change requests
  • Accessible furniture requests
  • Note taking requests
  • Realtime Captioning/Sign Language Interpreting requests
  • Lab assistants, Scribes etc. 

This early notice gives DSP staff the administrative time required to provide services to you promptly and avoids long delays as the semester begins. If you have any questions, see a DSP Specialist during drop-ins.

Reduced Course Load (RCL)

Disabilities impact everyone differently, but Reduced Course Load (RCL) approval is a fairly common request for DSP students.

RCLs may be requested by contacting your Disability Specialist directly via email or during drop-ins. When submitting a request for an RCL, identify your SID number, your College, the number of units you will maintain, and whether you have taken an RCL in the past. If you are on financial aid, make sure you first consult with your Financial Aid Counselor to ensure the RCL decision will not negatively impact future awards. If you are an international student, make sure you consult with the Berkeley International Office to confirm that an RCL will not affect your visa. In all cases, consult with a College Adviser to discuss the impact a reduced course load will have on your academic plan.

In some cases, students approved for an RCL of 6-8 units may wish to be considered for reduced tuition. Your assigned Disability Specialist can discuss the pros and cons of reduced tuition with you and can assist you with your decision-making process.

Audio Recording

A common accommodation for DSP students is the use of a Smart Pen or Sonocent recording for course lectures. The student and faculty should discuss this accommodation requirement to ensure mutual understanding of when and how recordings will be made, and an agreement that:

1)    The Student will only use these audio files for personal study.

2)    The Student is prohibited from sharing these files or disseminating any information obtained from the class through use of an audio recorder with any other persons or in any other way. 

Disability-Related Absences

A common accommodation for many DSP students is having allowance for occasional disability-related absences. There are two aspects of a student needing accommodation for disability-related absences. The first is that the student should not be more restricted than students without disabilities. Thus, if the instructor does not keep attendance records or otherwise track attendance of students without disabilities, there should not be any special tracking of students with disabilities. Similarly, if the instructor does not emphasize the importance of attendance or class participation on the syllabus, in class announcements, as a portion of the grade assigned, etc., then a student with a disability who has frequent absences should not have them count against the student when the student is being graded for the course.

In setting the number of minimum class absences for a student with a disability, the instructor should consider the amount of material a student can reasonably miss being covered in class but can still compensate for by learning the material in another way. For example, reading the assigned materials or another's class notes. Once the instructor determines how many classes a student may miss while still satisfying the core requirements, the student should not be penalized for poor attendance/participation, providing the student attends the number established by the instructor (even if that number is less than is required of students without disabilities).

It is the instructor's responsibility to determine how many classes may be missed without it constituting a fundamental alteration in the nature of the course. It is the responsibility of DSP to determine how many class absences may be anticipated as disability related, based upon the medical documentation and past history DSP has reviewed. DSP determines the amount of time the student's disability may cause the student to be out (e.g., total of 2-3 weeks, or 4-6 class absences), if past experiences are a reliable indicator of the future. However, the medical documentation supporting the student's necessity to be absent does not override the instructor’s right to uphold campus academic standards by requiring the student to attend/participate to the degree academically necessary for the student to meet the course's core requirements as determined by the instructor. It is the student's responsibility to keep up with course requirements and/or complete make-up assignments in a timely manner after each absence.

In summary, when class attendance is tracked for purposes of the final course grade, allowances for occasional disability-related absences can be made. Note: when class participation and/or group projects are an essential element of the course, faculty are not required to fundamentally alter the nature of their course. For example, there may be course requirements for which there are no comparable alternative assignments that can be independently completed by the student. It is the student’s responsibility to meet with faculty at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance, participation expectations, and course requirements. In the event a make-up exam/quiz is required due to a disability-related absence, such a request must be made promptly and completed in a timely manner. Faculty should contact the Disability Specialist who signed the letter of accommodation if they have any questions.

Tests/Make-up Exams

At the beginning of the semester (or immediately after they become eligible for DSP test accommodations), students need to provide faculty a copy of their letter of accommodation, which will verify any needed test accommodations. Students are responsible for being on time for exams, and tardiness will be deducted from the total exam time authorized. Make-up exams are to be offered only when there are disability-related extenuating circumstances preventing the student's ability to take the exam as scheduled, providing the make-up exam request is made in a timely manner. Faculty should not request disability documentation from the student. Instead, faculty should contact DSP, which can verify whether the student had a disability-related reason for missing the exam.