Returning Students

Welcome! In this section, we have provided a few links and resources that may be helpful to you, now that you have had an Intake with a DSP Specialist, and are registered with DSP. Since the DSP Specialists are generalists, you may meet with any Specialist during appointments or Drop-Ins, however your assigned Specialist will be your Specialist of note, and will be the one that responds to LOA requests online. When requesting follow up regarding LOA accommodations, you should communicate with your Specialist of note (their name and contact information is located on the bottom of your LOA's).

We hope you have been having a wonderful Cal experience thus far, and that you are doing great in your classes. Feel free to visit us during a Drop-In period (see Drop In Hours below), or send us an email to:

If you have questions concerning LOA’s and RCL’s, a change in your disability status, or changes to your required accommodations, please come see us in Drop-ins or contact your Specialist of note.

We encourage the use of Drop-Ins to meet with the first available DSP Specialist to have your quick questions addressed. Drop Ins are intended to only last between 5-15 minutes. Follow-up appointments may be scheduled as a result of having first met with a Specialist during a Drop-In and/or your Specialist has determined that a follow-up appointment is required. Otherwise, most business may be addressed via e-mail and/or Drop-ins.

On occasion Specialists may be in meetings and/or may have other commitments making them unavailable for short periods of times, inlcuding Drop-Ins. These times will be posted on our DSP homepage, as well as on the front door of our office at 260 Caesar Chavez.Please check our web site prior to dropping in to insure availability.

Reminders for Returning Students

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 the Campus Access 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 insure 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, and in particular Finals, must be considered at the time of enrollment as 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 insuring 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, in particular auxiliary services. Once you have enrolled in courses, you are encouraged to immediately request via SCARAB your authorized accommodations, per class such as:

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

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

Student Leadership

If you are looking for a leadership role with assisting DSP with its services and peer outreach, we encourage you to get involved with the Disabled Students Union (DSU). The DSU leadership meets regularly with the DSP director, and provides DSP valuable guidance and recommendations. This partnership between DSP and DSU is invaluable as DSU learns more about DSP, and DSU communicates DSP students’ concerns. DSP students are encouraged to reach out to the DSU leadership to express concerns they would like shared with DSP and/or to get invloved with DSU.

Additional Other Disability-related Student Groups include: Project Eye-to-Eye, and Active Minds. These two groups encourage disability awareness, a sense of community, and pride. Speak to your Specialist for more information.

Drop In Hours

Important Updare About Drop-In Appointments

Effective July 26, our drop-in appointment system will be changing. Please see this note about the upcoming changes to our appointment procedures!

L&S Counseling

Appointment times for Fall 2017 will be set soon! (20 Min. Appointments). Calling ahead for an appointment is advisable.

Financial Aid

Appointment times for Fall 2017 will be set soon! (20 Minute Appointments). By Appointment Only. Call DSP Front Desk on Monday morning to schedule.

Reduced Course Load Letters (RCL's), Financial Aid Petitions and Other Letter Requests

Disabilities impact everyone differently, but a Reduced Course Load (RCL) letter is a fairly common request for DSP students.Please do not use the RCL tab in SCARAB to request RCL's, until further notice.

RCL's may be requested at Drop-Ins, by e-mailing the Specialist that signed off on your LOA's, or by sending a request via When submitting a request for an RCL, identify the College where the letter needs to be addressed, number of units you will maintain, and whether this request is only for the one semester. If you anticipate requiring RCL's for future semesters, this needs to be identified in your request to the Specialist. If you are on financial aid, make sure you consult first with your financial aid counselor to insure the RCL decision will not negatively impact future awards, before requesting DSP assistance.

DSP does not initiate any academic or financial aid processes. The initiation of academic petitions for course drops/adds/other changes to course load begins with the College Academic Advisor. Similarly, financial aid petitions begin with a meeting with the Financial Aid office.

Requests for DSP signatures on RCL's, Financial Aid appeals, course drop requests, and other forms may be made during Drop-Ins. However, requests for DSP verifications need to be made in a timely manner (within the UC Berkelely deadlines), and have first been signed off by the College Academic Advisor.

In some cases, documentation supporting an exacerbation of disability may be required by the DSP Specialist, before sigining off on, for example, an exceptional change of class schedule request if the request is late in the semester.Please provide any medical documentation supporting the exacerbation (e.g. hospitalization) to your Specialist.

Accommodations (LOA's)

When accommodations are authorized by DSP, it is important for you to honor the intent of the accommodations, which is to level the educational playing field, and to use the accommodations with integrity. DSP must balance the required needs of DSP students, the curriculum needs of the faculty, the UC Berkeley commitment to insuring equal access, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

LOA's are not written in stone, and as a result of re-evaluation by the Specialist and/or changes in your disability, may be adjusted periodically to more apprpriately meet your required needs. LOA's may differ from semester to semester, and even course by course, depending on the accommodation requirements. Not all accommodations are required for every course.

In the event additional or new accommodations are requested, it is important to provide new medical documentation that supports the required need for the accommodation changes. Accommodations are authorized to address required needs, as evidenced by the medical diagnostic information.

Request your LOA's through SCARAB once you have registered for your classes for the next session. Accommodations are not retroactive, so faculty are not responsible for accommodations prior to their having recieved their LOA's.

Some accommodations, if not clarified early in the semester, tend to be sources of tension between students and faculty. We encourage you to go to the Faculty Tab on the DSP website to read information we provide the faculty about LOA's and other topics.

Below are three accommodation examples where students must balance their disability management needs with the faculty curriculum needs:

Audio Recordings

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 insure mutual understanding of when and how recordings will be made (e.g. record faculty/lectures, but not student discussions), 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 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 professor does not keep attendance records or otherwise track attendance of non-disabled students, there should not be any special tracking of students with disabilities. Similarly, if the professor does not emphasize the importance of attendance or class participation, e.g., syllabus, class announcements, portion of the grade assigned, etc., then a student with a disability who has frequent absences probably should not have them count against him/her when being graded for the course.

In setting the number of minimum class absences for a student with a disability, the professor should consider the amount of material that a student can reasonably miss being covered in class and still compensate for it by learning the material in another way, e.g., reading another's class notes or the assigned reading. Once the professor determines how many classes a student can miss and still be satisfying the core requirements, then the student should not be penalized for poor attendance/participation so long as s/he attends the number established by the professor (even if that number is less than is required of non-disabled students).

Although it is the professor's responsibility to determine how many classes can be missed without it constituting a fundamental alternation in the nature of his/her course, it is the responsibility of DSP to determine how many class absences may be anticipated as disability-related based on the medical documentation/past history DSP has reviewed. Thus, just as DSP suggests that the professor give the student double time on a test, 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 fact that the student's medical documentation supports the student's necessity to be out does not "trump" the professor's right to uphold campus academic standards by requiring the student to attend/participate to the degree academically necessary in order for the student to meet the course's core requirements as determined by the professor. It is the students' responsibility to make up assignments and/or class requirements immediately after each absence, and to keep up with the course requirements.

In brief - 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 students' responsibility to meet with faculty at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance and participation expectations.

LOA wording - When class attendance is tracked for purposes of the final course grade, please make allowance for occasional disability-related absences. Note: when class participation and/or group projects are an essential element of your course, you are not required to fundamentally alter the nature of your course. For example, there may be course requirements for which there are no comparable alternative assignments that can be independently completed by the student. 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. It is the students’ responsibility to meet with you at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance, participation and course requirements. Please contact the Specialist who signed the LOA if you have questions.

Tests/Makeup 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 LOA, and required need for test accommodations . Make-up exams are to be offered only when there are extenuating circumstances preventing ability to take the exam as scheduled, the make-up exam request is made promptly, and is supported by medical documentation (e.g. note from urgent care) confirming a disability-related reason that the student was unable to take the specific exam on the originally scheduled date. In some cases, the student may not want faculty to have the documentation, and may instead provide it to DSP, in which case DSP will verify that the student had a disability-related reason for missing the exam, and requiring a make-up. Students are responsible for being on time for exams, and tardiness will be deducted from the total exam time authorized.

Please note in the Disability Related Absences the LOA wording that applies to make up exams. It is the student's responsibility to contact their instructors promptly, and to complete make up exams in a timely manner.

Recommended Courses

UGBA 196 - Personal Financial Management

Learn how to manage your money and increase your personal financial power, and earn 2 credits (P/NP). Ask your Specialist for details on the next class.

Professional Development and Disability, UGIS 98

Enroll in this 2-unit P/NP course, which is designed for students with disabilities planning their careers. Sign up through TeleBEARS (Spring 2016 CCN: 88912) or contact Paul Hippolitus for more information.

Education 98/198: Exploring Learning Differences: Strategies for Success

Enroll in this 2-unit P/NP course, which is designed to help students with learning disabilities or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder succeed at Cal. The course combines disability information with academic success tips and solid peer support.

Disability Studies

Disability Studies provides leadership and training for students, faculty, staff, and community members.

Freshman and Sophomore Seminars

Freshman and Sophomore Seminars allow you to explore mutual interests with a faculty member. Become an active member of the UC Berkeley intellectual community.