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. DSS will determine which support services a student is eligible for based on all available documentation and information on the student’s disability. 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 Disabled Student Services apply only to Cal State San Marcos. Students who ask for a specific accommodation, which is denied by the Disabled Student 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 Disabled Student 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 Disabled Student 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 on a case-by-case basis to students with documented disabilities. Either the DSS Director or the DSS Psychologist & Learning Disabilities Specialist will determine if testing accommodations are required for each individual student, and which specific accommodations will be allowed. Only students with appropriate documentation from a recognized professional will be considered for services.

Prior to the first day of each semester, students who are approved for testing accommodations will receive one Testing Accommodation Packet for each class in which they are enrolled. The packet consists of a general cover letter for the professor, an approved accommodations information 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.

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 along with a verbal indication that exams will be taken through DSS. The instructor will complete the remainder of the form and should return it directly to DSS within one week. To ensure the integrity of information on the form, the instructor, not the student, should return the accommodation form to DSS. One week after giving the packet to the instructor, the student should check with either the instructor or DSS to find out if the form has been completed and returned to DSS. Testing accommodations cannot be arranged until this form has been received by DSS.

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 for that class.

A test date and time are not automatically scheduled for the student. The student must personally contact DSS, located in Craven Hall #4300, to complete a Testing Accommodation Reservation form for each individual exam throughout the semester. Accommodations must be set no less than two (2) weeks prior to each exam. Accommodations will not be able to be guaranteed with shorter notice unless there are specific circumstances to justify the situation.

If exams are being administered by the instructor on a “to be announced” basis, the student is responsible 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.

A testing accommodation will be set between the student and DSS using the following policy:

The student will begin the exam in DSS at the same time that the class begins the exam, and will receive a time extension past the end of the testing period for the class.
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.
If #1 and #2 are not possible because of back-to-back classes, the student will be referred back to the instructor to arrange permission to take the exam at a different time that does not overlap the class testing time.
If #3 is the only workable option, the instructor must contact DSS and communicate his/her approval of the agreement between the instructor and the student. DSS will not administer the exam without this approval from the instructor. After coordinating with the instructor, the student is responsible to contact DSS to set up a testing accommodation reservation following the parameters set by the agreement with the instructor.
If the student has a class that extends past or begins after 5:00 p.m., the test will be scheduled with a time frame to set the ending time as 5:00 p.m. This option does not require the instructor’s special permission; however, the student should inform the instructor that the exam will be administered at an earlier starting time than the class.
If the student has a Saturday class, the student will have to arrange permission with the instructor to take the exam in DSS at an alternate time Monday – Friday, between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. since DSS is not open on Saturday. The procedures in policy #4 above should be followed if this option is required. The only exception to this will be for final exams that are assigned a Saturday testing date. DSS will schedule and administer exams on those Saturdays.
It is the responsibility of the student to remind the instructor in advance of each exam that the test will be taken in DSS, and to inform him/her of the scheduled start time to ensure that an exam copy will be made available to DSS 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, a makeup exam must be allowed by 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 Scheduler 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 administered, the student must provide DSS with documentation from an appropriate treating professional substantiating that the absence on the original test date was disability related.

The student is expected to check in at the DSS office 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 given 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.

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 immediately. DSS will then intervene on the student’s behalf.

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 Disabled Student 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.

Additionally, DSS has two mobility 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.