DSP Complaint Resolution Process

Disabled Students’ Program Complaint Resolution Process

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and UC Non-Discrimination Policy require a process for the resolution of complaints related to disability discrimination or the failure to reasonably accommodate disability-related academic needs.  

The following process may be used by students with disabilities to resolve complaints about these matters:   Denial of academic accommodations, decisions regarding eligibility for academic accommodations, determinations of specific appropriate academic accommodations, provision of accommodations and auxiliary services, provision of communication services, and administrative decisions of the Disabled Students' Program (DSP).

Students may address concerns about academic accommodation decisions affecting them in two ways. The first is to pursue an informal resolution (I) . The second is to pursue a formal complaint (explained further below). While we encourage students to begin with informal resolution, a student may choose to start with a formal complaint. Formal complaints involving instructors will be managed by DSP as described below (II).  Formal complaints regarding DSP decisions or implementation of services may be appealed as described below (III). 

I. Informal resolution:

In general, when a student is dissatisfied with any academic accommodations, the fastest process for resolving the issue is to directly contact the student’s DSP Specialist. The Specialist will elevate the concern to the DSP Director if they are unable to resolve the concern after contacting the faculty member. The student may also initiate informal resolution through the DSP Director by emailing the DSP Director @knielson@berkeley.edu or contacting dsp@berkeley.edu to schedule a meeting to discuss the complaint and explore possible avenues of resolution

If a student has received an accommodation letter from DSP, and an instructor indicates to the student that a specific accommodation described in the letter is academically inappropriate with the regard to that instructor’s course, the student seeking the accommodation should inform the student’s DSP Specialist of the instructor’s position and seek resolution through the DSP Specialist.  Students are encouraged not to discuss any disagreement with the instructor regarding accommodations directly with the instructor and to copy the disability specialist on any communications with faculty regarding accommodations.  If the instructor initiates such a conversation, the student is encouraged to refer the instructor to the student’s DSP Specialist.  Generally, complaints that an instructor has not observed the provisions of an accommodation letter cannot be resolved until after the student has advised the student’s DSP Specialist of the situation, as described above.

Initial accommodation letters issued by DSP are typically general and are not tailored to any specific course.  Instructors decide whether or not accommodations proposed by DSP are academically appropriate for an instructor’s specific course.  When an instructor informs DSP that an accommodation proposed by DSP is not appropriate for a specific course, the instructor and DSP confer and agree regarding an alternate accommodation (or agree that no accommodation is appropriate), and that agreement is reflected in a new accommodation letter for that course issued by DSP to the student (or by affirming to the student that the current letter will be observed by the instructor).  If the DSP Specialist and the faculty member do not agree regarding the academic appropriateness of a proposed accommodation,, the DSP Director will attempt to resolve the disagreement.  DSP, not the student, is responsible for managing disagreements between DSP and an instructor. 

II. Formal Process when an instructor denies an accommodation:

When the DSP Director 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, who decides what accommodation is appropriate, and directs DSP to either issue a new accommodation letter or inform the student that the existing accommodation letter will be observed by the instructor.  The student may provide DSP with information that the student wishes the Vice Provost to consider in making the Vice Provost’s decision.

When the complaint concerns the refusal of an instructor to follow DSP’s recommendations as set forth in an accommodation letter issued by DSP after DSP has considered the concerns of the instructor regarding such accommodation, the final decision will be made by the Vice Provost for Faculty and communicated to student by DSP and to the faculty by the Vice Provost.  

III. Formal Process for appealing DSP decisions:

Disability Access and Compliance is available to discuss disagreements or concerns with DSP and a student may request a consultation to discuss concerns prior to filing a formal complaint or to answer questions about the formal complaint process.  To request a consultation, please contact the Policy and Investigations Manager at: stevejohnston@berkeley.edu

A formal complaint regarding a decision made by DSP or provision of (or denial of) an academic disability accommodation or service must be made in writing, must state unambiguously that it is a “formal complaint,” and must be sent to the Disability Access and Compliance Office (DAC) at access@berkeley.edu.  Students may also file a formal complaint with DAC on their web linkIf a student needs accommodations in order to submit a grievance, please contact access@berkeley.edu and request an alternative format or for other assistance.

The formal complaint must describe the specific accommodation or service issue that is the subject of the complaint, the date that the issue arose, the facts on which the complaint is based, and the resolution requested. Formal complaints should be submitted within thirty days from the time the student knew or could reasonably be expected to have known of the DSP staff or supervisor action that is the subject of the complaint.  The campus may treat untimely complaints as having been waived by the student based upon failure to assert the complaint in a timely manner; Please inform DAC if there is a disability related reason for any delay.

Generally, complaints that an instructor has not observed the provisions of an accommodation letter cannot be resolved until after the student has advised the student’s DSP Specialist of the situation, as described in the above paragraph.

The Disability Access and Compliance Office will complete their investigation within sixty (60) business days of the investigation starting. Should more time be required for the completion of a complex investigation, you will be informed of any delays.

Upon receipt of a written complaint, the Disability Compliance Officer may assign an individual to evaluate the complaint and make a recommendation to the appropriate decision maker regarding the outcome of the complaint. The investigation may include an attempt to interview the complainant, a review of any relevant written materials submitted by the complainant, and an effort to obtain information from relevant individuals (i.e. interviews, written statements or documents). The Disability Compliance Officer or that person’s designate shall notify the student in writing of the decision regarding the complaint. (Flowchart of Disability formal complaint process)

Decisions regarding the formal complaints may be reviewed if a reconsideration is requested by any party and will be referred to the ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer. A request for consideration can be made if it is believed that the process has been followed incorrectly, or if it is believe an error has been made in the interpretation of the facts.

A request to discuss further needs to be submitted to the Investigator within 2 days of the receipt of the report and a request for reconsideration submitted in an agreed upon timeline (not more than 10 business days after the report is issued).  

The ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer will respond to the request for reconsideration within 10 business days from when the reconsideration request is submitted. ADA Compliance Officer decisions regarding all formal complaints are final and are not subject to appeal or review through any other campus grievance procedure or dispute resolution process.

Examples of formal complaints might include the following allegations of the following matters:

Procedural error or violation of policy by DSP staff or supervisor. (III)

Judgments improperly made by DSP based upon non-relevant criteria including, but not limited to, discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex, race, national origin, color, age, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. (III)

Specific mitigating circumstances beyond the student's control not properly taken into account in a decision affecting the student's services. (II&III)

Ongoing, repeated failure by DSP to provide an auxiliary aid or alternative media for which DSP has determined the student is eligible. (III)

Refusal of an instructor to observe recommendations in an accommodation letter issued by DSP (after the accommodation letter has been issued or affirmed by a DSP Specialist following notice of to the DSP Specialist of the instructor’s disagreement with a proposed accommodation). (II)

COMPLAINT REGARDING NON-ACADEMIC DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION

Information regarding how a student may obtain disability accommodation with regard to campus housing or campus dining programs can be found here:

http://www.housing.berkeley.edu/students-disabilities

(link is external)

Information regarding how a student may obtain a disability accommodation with regard to student employment can be found here:

https://uhs.berkeley.edu/bewellatwork/disability-management

(link is external)

Students may consult and obtain assistance with regard to the informal resolution of concerns regarding non-academic disability accommodation by contacting the Disability Access & Compliance Office and requesting a call back or raising an issue of concern:

https://dac.berkeley.edu/request-services

(link is external)

Employment complaint processes: 

http://hr.berkeley.edu/resolving-problems/where-go