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Faculty Guide to Access / Disability Services

What are your responsibilities as educators?

At a minimum, instructors have the responsibility to ensure full access for students with disabilities by responding to a student's need or request for accommodations.

All instructors are encouraged to include in their syllabus a statement inviting students with disabilities to meet with them in a confidential environment to discuss making arrangements for accommodations. Several reasons exist why this syllabus statement is critical.

This statement both normalizes the accommodation process and helps to create a positive and welcoming environment for students with disabilities.

Also, the statement creates a collaborative vehicle for making legally mandated accommodations and serves as a reminder to students who require the accommodations that these arrangements need to be made as early as possible.

Here’s an example of a syllabus disability statement that can be used or adapted for your course syllabus:

Access / Disability Services (Office of the Dean of Students)

The Office of the Dean of Students provides services to eligible students who have a documented permanent or temporary physical, psychological or sensory disability (including pregnancy-related disabilities) that qualifies them for academic accommodations under the law. Students are encouraged to notify their instructor after class or during office hours if they are needing academic accommodations. To request accommodations and services through the Office of the Dean of Students, students will need to review Access/Disability services portal page (

Students who feel they may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a documented disability may contact Access/Disability Services (Office of the Dean of Students) privately to schedule an intake appointment to discuss their specific needs. Please contact at or call 510.594.3775. 

If a student presents you with an accommodation letter from the Office of the Dean of Students . . .

You have the responsibility to cooperate with the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) in providing authorized accommodations in a reasonable and timely manner. The specific accommodation determines the amount of involvement required.

These letters serve as the student's entry point into a dialogue with you. The Office of the Dean of Students when needed, act as a mediator.

However, it is expected that a student will advocate for individual needs directly with the faculty. Please note that, generally, without communication from the Office of the Dean of Students, faculty members are not obligated to provide accommodations.

Students are responsible for approaching instructors in a timely manner to arrange the specifics of their requested accommodations.

However, some students might wait until just before an exam to do so; others may recently discover a disability or obtain documentation to support accommodation requests after the course has already begun.

To reduce the instances of requests for last-minute accommodations, DOS encourages you to note on your syllabus that concerned students should consult with the DOS staff within the first few weeks of the semester.

Why does the accommodation letter omit the student’s disability?

All information regarding a student’s disability is highly confidential. Only the student may decide whether to disclose a diagnosis to anyone at the college.

You are free to discuss accommodations with students, but should not ask any student for information about a disability other than what is listed in the accommodation letter.

Should you share information about the student’s disability status with anyone else?

Most students sign releases that allow the Office of the Dean of Students to talk to course instructors about accommodation situations. Beyond DOS, the student's situation should not be shared with anyone else unless deemed necessary and considered appropriate under FERPA.

Faculty members are advised to be careful with what they share with others within the department. While some information sharing can be beneficial to other instructors who may work with a student in the future, other information may generate perceptions and attitudes that could work against the student if future instructors have predetermined ideas about a student before ever having the student in class.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Accommodations are modifications to standard ways of doing things. The purpose of effective accommodations is to provide students with disabilities an equal and equitable opportunity to participate and benefit from college. The emphasis is on access, not outcome. This is done by providing the student with a disability equal access to the content and activities of a course, but not necessarily ensuring their success.

The following are examples of the most common accommodations that permit a student with a disability to effectively participate in the educational process:

  • Changes to a classroom environment or task (e.g., extended time for an exam, the use of a dictionary or spell checker, use of tape recorder, reading materials in alternative format)
  • Removal of architectural barriers (e.g., adapting a classroom to meet the needs of a student who uses a wheelchair)
  • Provision of auxiliary aids and services (e.g., providing a sign language interpreter, or providing a student notetaker or scribe)

In accordance with the law, there are some modifications that the college does not provide.


  • personal devices such as wheelchairs
  • personal services such as private tutoring or personal attendants
  • accommodations that would jeopardize the student’s or others’ health or safety
  • modifications that make a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum.
  • modifications that require a substantial alteration in the manner in which educational opportunities are provided, such as the course objectives being altered.
  • services that are unduly burdensome -- administratively or financially.

Common Scenarios:

If a student fails to present you with an accommodation letter from DOS . . .

If a student requests an accommodation without having presented you with a letter from DOS, please refer the student to DOS by emailing or call 510.594.3775.

If the student is already on file with DOS, then the student should simply contact the Assistant Dean of Students for Access and Case Management for an accommodation letter for that particular class or classes.

If the student is new to DOS, the process to review documentation and meet with the student may take some time.

If the disability is discernible and the accommodation appears appropriate, you may need to provide the accommodation while awaiting official notification from the Office of the Dean of Students.

If you are unsure, please call the Assistant Dean of Student for Access and Case Management, Jeremy Khuth (510.594.3775) for assistance.

If a student discloses a disability to you . . .

Ask to see the notification letter from DOS. This letter describes the accommodations that the institution is legally mandated to provide.

During an office hour or at another convenient time in a private setting, discuss the letter and the accommodations with the student.

Students must present a letter from DOS to receive accommodations. If the student does not have a letter, please refer the student to DOS.

Appropriate accommodations will be determined after reviewing documentation of the disability and the student will be issued the accommodation letter.

If you have a question about the appropriateness of an accommodation . . .

Questions about the appropriateness of certain accommodations should be directed to Jeremy Khuth, Assistant Dean of Students for Access and Case Management, at 510.594.3775 or via email at

If a disability is suspected . . .

You should be aware that a student who has not been diagnosed with a disability may not be receptive to being perceived as having one.

It is also possible that the student has been diagnosed already, but has chosen not to disclose the disability or to register with DOS, or both, because the student does not feel academic modifications are necessary.

If you feel strongly about broaching the subject with this student, arrange to discuss it privately.

You may inform the student that CCA offers supportive resources such as academic coaching through the Learning Resource Center for academic coaching, academic advising, counseling, etc.

In this context, it would be appropriate to mention access / disability services.

Should expectations of someone with a disability be reduced? Should you grade the student differently?

All students have met the admissions standards set by CCA and deserve the opportunity to do their best. As with other students on this campus, some will be successful and some will not.

The accommodations and academic modifications recommended in each student’s accommodation letter have been determined by the Office of the Dean of Students, and are based on documented limitations of disability.

They are designed to counter the effects of disabilities where they may pose a barrier to the education process; as such, they will not give any student an advantage over others.

Responding to a medical incident in the classroom/studio...

All instructors are required to follow CCA protocol when there is a medical incident. Please report all medical incidents immediately to Public Safety. Public safety staff serves as first responders and will then determine if additional medical attention is warranted. For assistance on either campus please call 415.703.9510. [For situations that rise to the level of imminent danger, please refer to the Academic Affairs Imminent Danger Protocol]