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Support Services

The availability of support services for students with disabilities is dependent upon the needs of students as well as available funding and resources. It is entirely up to the student whether or not to access services. However, no student shall receive support services without proper verification of their disabling condition and current functional limitations. Using the interactive process with the student, DSS will determine which support services to authorize based on all available documentation and information provided. However, interim temporary support services may be approved for students whose disability documentation is inconclusive and are in the process of being reevaluated. In addition, it is important for students to understand that the accommodations authorized by Disability Support Services apply only to Cal State San Marcos. Students who ask for a specific accommodation, which is denied by the Disability Support Services Office, can appeal the decision directly to the ADA Appeals Officer (see Grievance Policy section of this handbook for more details).

Campus Tours

Campus tours are normally provided through the Office of Enrollment Services. However, students with disabilities may request a tour of the campus from the Office of Disability Support Services to learn about the accessible features of the campus.
Tours Website

Priority Registration

Priority registration is given to those students using wheelchairs, requiring interpreting/captioner services, requiring access to information in alternate format and to those who are currently receiving special medical treatment that requires them to be available at specific periods of the day. If a student believes they are need of priority registration for disability related reasons, they need to speak with their DSS counselor.

Special Parking

Students in need of special parking privileges due to a permanent or temporary disability need to contact Parking Services at (760) 750-7500. Students with long-term mobility limitations (over 6 months) are encouraged to apply for a DMV Parking Placard. All students are required to purchase and display a valid Student Parking Permit each semester. However, students with a DMV Placard or (DV) License Plate may be eligible for a student parking fee waiver if the Financial Aid Office determines they are financially eligible.

Services for Students with Cognitive Disabilities

(ADD, Acquired Brain Injuries, Psychological and Learning Disabilities)

Students who have a documented cognitive disability (i.e., psychological disorder, ADD, learning disability or acquired brain injury) that substantially limits one or more areas of major life functioning are eligible for services through DSS. Psychoeducational assessment, as needed to determine current level of functioning, is provided by DSS for students who have a documented cognitive disability. The assessment will be used to help determine the most appropriate academic accommodations based on the student’s functional limitations, and to provide the student with feedback about his/her strengths and weaknesses.

Students seeking an evaluation for a cognitive disability from a professional outside of DSS are strongly encouraged to ask the outside professional to consult with DSS prior to completing the evaluation. CSU systemwide policy provides guidelines for interpreting results from previously completed assessments of cognitive disabilities. Prior verification of an existing cognitive disability may be used when: (1) documentation is submitted by a professional qualified to diagnose the disability (i.e., neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, learning disabilities specialist); (2) documentation includes the appropriate testing and evaluation procedures and test results used to make the diagnosis; (3) documentation adequately addresses alternative explanations (other than a disability) which might cause or contribute to academic difficulties (i.e., motivational, social, educational and language factors); and (4) testing and evaluation results were completed when the student was an adult and are recent enough to provide information on a student’s current level of functioning (usually within the past five years). DSS reserves the right to reassess or deny services to any student who does not meet the CSU eligibility criteria for disability services.

Comprehensive screening is available through DSS for students who are experiencing academic difficulties and suspect that they may have an undiagnosed cognitive disability. During the screening process, the student will be asked to complete a psychoeducational screening questionnaire and will meet with a DSS professional. Students whose academic difficulties appear to be due to an undiagnosed disability will be referred to an outside professional, either on campus or in the community, for an evaluation, treatment, and/or documentation of the disability. Please note that DSS does not provide diagnosis or treatment of disability related conditions and is not responsible for payment of services provided by a non-DSS professional. Students who are experiencing academic difficulties due to factors other than a disability will be referred to other available services and/or useful resources on campus and in the community.

Disability Related Counseling and Advising

Students with disabilities are provided with counseling for concerns related to their disability. Please note that disability related counseling is not meant to take the place of treatment for a mental illness. Students in need of evaluation or treatment for a psychological disorder will be referred to a qualified professional in the community. Academic advising is provided by the faculty with supplemental advising provided by the Office of Disability Support Services.

Interpreter Services /Captioning Services

Interpreter services include manual and oral interpreting for students with documented hearing impairments that necessitate services. Interpreters will be provided in the following priority: classroom use (earliest requests are given first priority), classroom required activities, student/professor meetings, approved campus activities, and Associated Student sponsored activities

Real time captioning services are available to those students with significant hearing impairments who prefer this service rather than sign language interpreting. Students utilizing this service must attend class in order to obtain a copy of the printed transcript.

It is the responsibility of the student to meet with DSS well in advance of each semester to make arrangements for interpreter services / captioning services. Once interpreter / captioning services have been set up, the following rules apply:
Students must inform DSS at least two working days in advance if they plan on missing a class due to reasons beyond hospitalization or illness.
If a student becomes seriously ill and will not be able to attend a class, it is their responsibility to notify DSS as soon as possible (preferably 24 hours in advance).
After three student no-shows (without good cause) in the same class, interpreter / captioning services will be canceled. To reinstate services, the student must set up a meeting with the Director.
Interpreters / real time captioners will wait fifteen minutes for a student to show up for class. If the student does not show in the first fifteen minutes of class then the interpreter / real time captioner will leave the class. Of course, students must be present in class before they can secure a printed transcript from the real time captioner. Students receiving classroom transcripts cannot share these documents with other students in the class or sell them. Students discovered doing either will be reported to the Dean of Students.
Should an interpreter / real time captioner not show up for an assignment, the student should contact DSS as soon as possible. If available, a replacement will be sent. If a substitute cannot be scheduled, the student will be given the options of obtaining a written transcript of the lecture, or making an interpreter available for signing the audiotaped or videotaped lecture.

Research and Technical Assistants

The Library and Information Services staff is strongly committed to providing equal access to students with disabilities. Students in need of assistance in utilizing the services offered are encouraged to contact Library and Information Services at least five working days in advance to schedule an appointment for assistance.

DSS will provide lab assistants for students whose disability prevents them from freely taking part in the laboratory experience. However, prior notice to DSS of at least a month is required for planning purposes.  The Library provides services and resources to users with disabilities, including expert research help.

Test Taking Facilitation

Special testing accommodations are approved and provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. A member of the DSS counseling staff will determine if testing accommodations are required for each individual student, and which specific accommodations will be allowed. This will be done using the interactive process involving the student. Only students with disability documentation from an appropriate professional (such as a medical doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist) will be considered for services.

Students who are approved for testing accommodations will need to come by the DSS Testing Center in Craven Hall Suite 4200 to pick up their Testing Accommodation Packets for each class in which they are enrolled at the beginning of each semester. The packet consists of a general cover letter for the professor, a Faculty Approved Accommodation sheet and a blue-colored Testing Accommodation Request Form. The student is responsible for filling in the first two lines of personal information at the top of each blue accommodation request form before giving the packet to the instructor. Students taking online courses will need to let the DSS staff know so their professors can be contacted regarding the need to provide any approved time extensions for exams and quizzes.

If the student decides to use special testing accommodations for a class, the packet should be given to the instructor during the first week of class and the student should verbally inform the instructor that exams will be taken through DSS. The instructor will complete the remainder of the form and should return it directly to DSS within the first few weeks of the semester. It is preferable that the instructor return the blue accommodations form to the Testing Center to ensure the integrity of the information on the form. Students need to check in with the Testing Center within two weeks after giving the packet to the instructor to ensure receipt.

If the student decides that testing accommodations will not be needed for a class, the packet should not be given to the instructor since DSS will not be involved in administering exams or quizzes for that class.

Quizzes, exams, mid-terms and finals must be scheduled by the student, preferably in person, however if that is not possible we will take reservations by phone if necessary. The student must personally contact the DSS Testing Center to complete a Testing Accommodation Reservation Form for each individual exam/quiz throughout the semester. Accommodations will not be guaranteed if reservations have been made shorter than two (2) weeks prior to quizzes, exams, mid-terms and finals.

If exams are being administered by the instructor on a “to be announced” basis, it is the student’s is responsibility to contact DSS as soon as the exam date is announced in class. If the instructor changes an exam date, the student should inform DSS right away and reschedule the previously set testing accommodation.

DSS testing accommodation guidelines are as follows:

  1. The student will begin the exam in the DSS Testing Center at the same time that the class begins the exam. Approved time extensions will extend past the end of the testing period for the class.
  2. If #1 is not possible because the student has a class immediately following the class in which the exam is being administered, then the student will begin the exam prior to the class starting time. The student’s starting time will be determined according to the time extension allowed for the student so that the student’s ending time for the exam will be the same as the class ending time.
  3. If #1 and #2 are not possible, because of back-to-back classes, the student will be referred back to the instructor to request and obtain permission to take the exam at a different time (or day) that does not overlap the class testing time.
  4. If #3 is the only workable option, the instructor must contact the DSS Testing Center and communicate his/her approval of the agreement between the instructor and the student. The DSS Testing Center will not administer the exam without this approval from the instructor. After coordinating with the instructor, the student is responsible for contacting DSS to set up a testing accommodation reservation following the parameters set by the agreement with the instructor.
  5. The Testing Center is now open Monday through Thursday until 10:00 pm and Friday it is open until 8:00 pm. If the student has a Saturday class, the student should request permission from the instructor to take the exam on an alternate day. If this is not possible due the student’s schedule or the instructor wants the exam taken on a Saturday then a DSS staff member will be assigned to proctor the exam.

The DSS Testing Center will e-mail the instructor the day before the exam that the student will be taking their exam in the center. However, it is the responsibility of the student to remind the instructor prior to each exam that the exam will be taken in the DSS Testing Center and the agreed upon scheduled start time to ensure that an exam copy will be made available to the DSS Testing Center before that time.

Once an accommodation reservation has been established for a student’s exam, it is binding. Rescheduling will be allowed only with permission of the instructor and/or the Director of DSS.

If the student misses an exam due to disability related reasons, options for a makeup exam will need to be discussed with the instructor. The student is responsible for contacting the instructor to determine when the makeup exam must be completed by. The instructor must personally inform DSS of the parameters agreed upon with the student. As soon as an agreement is reached with the professor, the student must contact the DSS Testing Center to set a testing accommodation reservation for the makeup exam. If an instructor requires proof that an absence was disability related, before a makeup exam can be scheduled/administered, the student must provide DSS with documentation from an appropriate treating professional.

The student is expected to check in at the DSS office or Testing Center at least five minutes before the scheduled starting time for the exam. With the exception of emergency situations, a student who arrives late for an exam will not be given additional time to compensate for testing time missed due to tardiness.

If a student is suspected of cheating, a DSS staff member will immediately address the situation. The circumstances will be thoroughly documented and any evidence will be confiscated. This information will be provided to the professor who will decide whether or not the student should be allowed to complete the exam and what further actions will be taken. Please understand that cameras are used to monitor exams being taken through the DSS Testing Center.

An alternate testing format shall be provided to any student whose disability prevents them from completing the normally formatted class exam. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis to determine the best possible testing format to measure the student’s knowledge of the course information.

If a problem should arise between the instructor and the student regarding the implementation of testing accommodations, the student should inform DSS staff immediately. A DSS staff member will follow up with the instructor directly.

Students taking classes and exams at the Temecula location will need to let the DSS Testing Center staff know as soon as possible. There are different forms for students in Temecula and they will need to work with the assigned on site testing coordinator. All of this information can be provided upon request through DSS.

Course Materials in Alternate Format

Students requiring classroom materials in alternate format (i.e., Braille, audiotape, large print and electronic format) will need to work very closely with DSS in order to ensure timeliness in the delivery of the needed materials. Students requiring course materials in Braille or in large print should contact DSS well in advance of each semester. Materials will be provided in alternate format if they are not available from other sources (i.e., Library of Congress or Braille Transcribers Guild). Only materials needed for a particular course in which the student is enrolled will be made available in alternate format. Students requiring information in audiotape form do have the right to select a reader who is not already on payroll through Disability Support Services.

Academic Support

Tutoring is not a required accommodation under either the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. However, tutoring services that are provided to the general student body must also be equally available and accessible to students with disabilities. The following academic support labs are open to any enrolled student: The Writing Center, The Math Lab, The Accounting Lab, The Computer Consulting Center and The Language Learning Center. All of these labs have proven to be of great assistance to students with specific subject matter needs and more information on them can be found on the CSUSM homepage (

Notetaker Services

Students who are approved for notetaking services are responsible to recruit their own notetakers for each class in one of two ways: 1) personally approach a classmate one-on-one; or 2) have the instructor read a DSS generated recruitment announcement in class, which directs interested notetaking candidates to meet with the student at the end of the class period.

The student will need to direct the notetaker to DSS to fill out paperwork and pickup the notetaking packet. If the in-class announcement is the preferred recruitment method, the announcement letter is also obtained at the DSS office. DSS will provide each notetaker with a special two-part self-carboned notetaking paper that will allow both the DSS student and the notetaker to be provided with notes at the end of each class.

Only CSUSM enrolled students are eligible to serve as stipend paid notetakers. Notetakers are paid a stipend for each class in which they successfully provide one semester of notetaking services. A prorated stipend is provided for a partial semester of services. In addition, each notetaker receives one semester of priority registration for each completed semester of notetaking services. In very specific cases, DSS may approve for a notetaker to be paid on an hourly basis.

In order to receive notetaking services, the DSS student is expected to attend class on a regular basis and meet with the notetaker at the end of each class period to secure a copy of the class notes. The only exception, other than emergencies, will be in cases where a student misses class meetings due to documented disability related reasons. In such cases, DSS will require current documentation from a treating professional to verify the legitimacy of the student’s absences.

Should any notetaking questions or problems arise during the semester that cannot be answered or settled directly between the DSS student and the notetaker, are both encouraged to contact the DSS office for assistance and solutions.

Adapted Equipment

The following items are available for student use in the academic setting: four-track and two-track tape recorders and players, spellcheckers, Perkins Brailler, talking calculators, assistive listening device and a TDD (for in-office use only). These items, except for the TDD, are available on a case-by-case basis and must be checked out and returned each semester. Students who fail to return loaned equipment will be referred to the Judicial Affairs Officer for appropriate action.

Specially adapted computer software and hardware can be made available in most classrooms and computer labs. This is not an exhaustive list but software includes: Zoomtext Plus, JAWS, Read and Write Gold, Kurzweil and Naturally Speaking. Assistive hardware includes: BAT Keyboard, assorted ergonomic keyboards, track ball mouse, CCTV and crank top tables. All of these items are available in DSS for student use. Students in need of these devices for classroom or laboratory use should contact Disability Support Services.

Additionally, DSS has five motorized scooters for students with mobility impairments to use on a short-term basis. These scooters can be reserved for one semester at a time on a first-come-first-served basis. It is important for mobility-impaired students to remember that they are responsible for providing their own scooters, canes, wheelchairs and other individualized pieces of equipment.

There is a small Adapted Technology Lab in Kellogg Library Rm. 3404 which has specially adapted computer equipment and software. However, this is a restricted use lab only and access is controlled through DSS. Please check with your DSS counselor for additional information on how to access this lab. Please also keep in mind that this lab will always be given first priority use to students taking DSS proctored exams as well as to those undergoing authorized training on the use of specific adapted computers and/or software.

Service Animals

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as “any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals to an impending seizure or protecting individuals during one, and alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders, or pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.” If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether or not it has been certified through a recognized training program. In compliance with the ADA, service animals must be permitted to accompany a person with a disability on campus.

A therapy animal is one that has reliable, predictable behavior, and is selected to visit with people with disabilities or people who are experiencing the frailties of aging as a therapy tool. A therapy animal may be an integral part of therapy treatment. The therapy animal does not accompany a person with a disability at all times. Thus, laws protecting service animals do not cover therapy animals.  However, questions regarding assistance animals in campus supported housing should be directed to the Campus Housing Office (760-750-3711). Information can also be found below in the Campus Policies on Services Animals section as well.

It is expected that the partner of a service animal will maintain strict control of the animal at all times. Service animals may be asked to leave locations on campus when the animal behaves in an unruly fashion (i.e., barking, biting, running around or bringing attention to itself). In addition, it is expected that all service animals be well groomed and kept away from public areas of the campus if they are sick. There may be certain parts of the campus where a service animal cannot be allowed because of potential risk to the animal or laboratory specimens. However, DSS personnel should always be consulted in advance regarding these types of issues.

The service animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal and all vaccinations must be current. Service animals (depending on type) must be properly licensed and must wear a leash. The care, supervision and cleanup of the service animal are the sole responsibility of its partner. Individuals with disabilities who physically cannot clean up after their service animal should contact DSS to make other arrangements.

When in the presence of service animals, please observe the following:

  • Allow a service animal to accompany the partner at all times, except where service animals are prohibited.
  • Do not pet a service animal without the permission of its partner.
  • Do not feed a service animal.
  • Do not startle a service animal.
  • Do not separate a service animal from its partner.
  • Service animals housed in university housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian.
Campus policies on Service Animals