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Faculty Handbook

This Faculty Handbook was designed to provide you with information on CSUSM’s legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, various types of disabilities you are likely to encounter in the classroom, as well as commonly prescribed accommodations for each disability category covered. Additionally, you will learn about the various types of support services available to students with disabilities through the office of Disability Support Services (DSS).

Legal Justification For Providing Reasonable Accomodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are the two primary pieces of federal legislation which mandate that reasonable accommodations be provided to qualified students with disabilities. In addition, the California State University Policy for the Provision of Accommodations and Support Services to Students with Disabilities clearly details the types of support services to be provided on each campus.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In 1975, several civil rights regulations were added to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These provisions can be found in Section 504 (Equal Opportunities) which specifically states: “No otherwise qualified individuals with handicaps in the United States, as defined in section 7(8), shall, solely by reason of the handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service” (The Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

Section 504’s primary effect upon post-secondary institutions is summed up by the concept of program accessibility to students with disabilities. “Accessibility includes the elimination of policy barriers, the provision of auxiliary aids such as readers and interpreters, and the provision of equal educational services and programs to disabled and non-disabled students, as well as the traditional physical access to the campus” (Johns, CAPED, Vol. 1 (No. 1), p.7). Furthermore, Section 504 states, “In its course examinations or other procedures for evaluating students’ academic achievements, institutions shall provide such methods for evaluating the achievements of students who have disabilities that impair sensory, manual or speaking skills as will best ensure that the results of the evaluation represent the student’s achievement in the course, rather than a student’s impaired skills (except where such skills are the factors being

measured)” (Section 504, Subpart E, 104.44 c). An instructor, in some cases, may be required to modify test arrangements for students with disabilities. For example, a student with a learning disability may be given the option of completing an orally administered exam rather than an essay type exam. The modified format of a standardized exam will depend upon the nature of a student’s disability and the best way to measure the student’s knowledge of the subject.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 defines handicapped individuals covered in Title V as “any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working), (ii) has a record of such impairment.”

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) 

The Americans with Disabilities Act has had a dramatic impact upon program and physical accessibility for students with disabilities. Section 36.309 of ADA (Title III) specifically states that “Any such authority that is covered by 504, or Title II, because it is a function of a State or local government, must make all of its programs accessible to persons with disabilities, which includes physical access as well as modifications in the way the test is administered, e.g., extended time, written instructions, or assistance of a reader.” Furthermore, “a public entity offering an examination must ensure that modifications of policies, practices, or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids and services furnish the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to demonstrate his or her knowledge or ability...”

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with disability as “(A) A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) A record of such impairment; (C) Being regarded as having such an impairment. In summation, ADA has adopted the same definition of disability as is defined within the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and in the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. However, ADA does not recognize the following conditions as being a disability: transvestitism, transexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, other sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, and psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from current illegal use of drugs (Note: the above conditions except transvestitism, are not necessarily excluded as impairments under Section 504)”.

Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 regulations state that a university shall provide academic accommodations unless:

a. the university can demonstrate that the accommodations are not necessary to ensure nondiscriminatory participation by a handicapped student, or

b. the university can demonstrate that the academic requirement for which an adjustment is requested is “essential to the program of instruction being pursued by (the) student.”

Legal References: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

1990 Americans with Disabilities Act , Title II.

California State University Policy for the Provision of Accommodations and Support Services to Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the provisions of applicable law, this policy is intended to ensure that no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in the services, programs, or activities of the CSU and its campuses. The CSU will provide appropriate accommodations and support services and make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless it is demonstrated that providing such accommodations, services, or modifications would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the services, program, or activity or would create undue financial or administrative burdens.

The California State University CSU Policy for the Provision of Accommodations and Support Services to Students with Disabilities prohibits unlawful discrimination against students on the basis of disability in CSU programs, services, and activities, in accordance with, but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended 2008 (ADAAA); Sections 504 and 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and applicable state laws including but not limited to the Donahoe Higher Education Act, Education Code sections 67302, 67310-13 and sections 11135 and 12926 of the Government Code.

All CSU campus faculty and staff share the responsibility for maintaining a campus environment conducive to the fulfillment of the CSU’s teaching and public service mission. In attempting to make appropriate academic adjustments, faculty and DSS staff should work together to develop reasonable accommodations that meet the educational needs of qualified students with disabilities without altering the fundamental nature of the program, or activity and without creating an undue financial or administrative burden.

Disability Categories & Instructional Tips

Each student brings a unique set of experiences to college, and a student with disabilities is no exception. While many learn in different ways, their differences do not imply inferior capacity to learn. Course requirements for students with disabilities

should be consistent with those for other students. However, special accommodations may be needed as well as academic modifications.

Determining that a student has a disability may not always be a simple process. Visible disabilities are noticeable through casual observation, for example an immediately recognizable physical impairment, or the use of a cane, a wheelchair, or crutches.

Other students have what are known as hidden disabilities which may include hearing impairments, legal blindness, cardiac conditions, learning disabilities, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and psychiatric or seizure disorders.

Finally, some students have a medical condition that results in several different impairments. Depending on the nature and progression of the condition or injury, it may be accompanied by a secondary impairment in mental health, mobility, vision, hearing, speech or coordination, which may, in fact, pose greater difficulties than the primary diagnosis.

Some students with disabilities will identify themselves as such by contacting the Disability Support Services office and their instructors before or early in the semester. Others, especially those with “hidden” disabilities, may not identify themselves because they fear being challenged about the legitimacy of their needs. Such students, in the absence of instructional adjustments, may experience problems completing course requirements. In a panic, they may identify themselves as disabled just before an examination and expect instant attention to their needs. If that happens, the faculty member should send the student to Disability Support Services where they will meet with a Disability Counselor to document their disability in order to receive academic accommodations.

Faculty are encouraged to make an announcement (see example provided in FAQ section) at the beginning of the semester or put a statement in the syllabus inviting students with disabilities to schedule appointments with them. It is also a good idea to state, or say, that reasonable accommodations which are approved through Disability Support Services will be provided to students with disabilities.

Visual Impairments 

Included in this category are disorders in the structure and functions of the eye as manifested by at least one of the following: (1) visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye after the best possible correction, (2) a peripheral field that is so constricted that it affects the student’s ability to function in an educational setting, (3) a progressive loss of vision which may affect the ability to function in an educational setting. Examples of visual impairments include, but are not limited to, cataracts, glaucoma, nystagmus, retinal detachment, retinitis pigmentosa, and strabismus.

Students with visual impairments often benefit from the following accommodations: special testing arrangements, access to classroom materials in alternate format (i.e., audiotape, E-Text, large print or Braille), a test proctor for reading exam questions and writing down answers, access to specially adapted equipment (i.e., E-Text, talking calculator, talking spellchecker, special computer), notetaking assistance, tape recorded lectures and priority registration.

Instructional Tips

  • Make lists of required readings available before the first day of class. Visually impaired students often need to have standard printed information reformatted (i.e., E-Text).  This takes a considerable amount of time to do (up to 3 months).
  • Make sure that you send a copy of your syllabus to DSS in advance of the start of your class (preferably one month).
  • Provide students with chapter outlines or study guides that cue them to key points in their readings.
  • Read all information that is written on the chalkboard or overhead transparencies.
  • Make sure when students are working in groups with a visually impaired student that information being used to complete an assigned task is read out loud.
  • Talk in a normal tone of voice when speaking and face the class.
  • Provide copies of lecture notes.
  • Some visually impaired students may require time extensions on assignments.
  • Plan field trips and internships in consultation with DSS staff.
  • Be prepared to assign a student to work with a visually impaired student in a lab setting. This should be done in collaboration with DSS.
  • In-class assignments may need to be completed out of class.
  • Don’t be afraid to consult with the student on determining what additional assistance they might require to complete your course.
  • All online content needs to be done so in an accessible format. Please be sure and consult with IITS ( to assist you in converting any of your required online content into an accessible format.
  • It is important to keep in mind that it can cost a substantial amount of money to convert textbooks into an alternate format. Faculty can greatly assist DSS by checking with the publisher of their chosen textbook to determine if it is available in electronic format for print impaired users.  The potential cost savings from utilizing formatted textbooks from the publisher can then be used by DSS in other needed areas to support the academic mission. Please be sure to abide by any existing CSUSM policies addressing deadlines for the submission of booklists for courses to be taught in an academic year.

Physical Impairments

Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders, as well as neuromuscular disorders, are physically disabling conditions which may require adaptation of the physical environment or curriculum. Examples include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, absence of some body member, clubfoot, nerve damage to the hand and arm, cardiovascular aneurysm (CVA), head injury and spinal cord injury, arthritis and rheumatism, intracranial muscle disorders.

Students with physical impairments may benefit from the following accommodations: special testing arrangements, a test proctor for writing down exam answers, access to specially adapted equipment (i.e., special computer), notetaking assistance, tape recorded lectures, special seating arrangements (i.e., accessible table and chair), and priority registration.

Instructional Tips 

  • Do not use accessible classroom furniture for other purposes. This furniture needs to be available for use by students in need.  
  • Be prepared to have your classroom changed if it is held in an inaccessible location.
  • If your class involves laboratory work, make sure that students with physical impairments have an accessible lab station.
  • Students with severe physical impairments may need to be teamed with another student to complete assigned laboratory work.
  • Students with certain physical impairments may need to stand up or temporarily leave the room to stretch their muscles.
  • In-class assignments may need to be completed out of class.
  • Some students with physical impairments may need extensions for assigned work.
  • Always consider the accessibility of a field trip or internship site. Inaccessible locations should be avoided.  However, if you have no choice on the location of a field trip or internship, consult with DSS for some creative solutions.
  • Students using wheelchairs or other mobility aids may experience some delays in getting to class on time due to barriers encountered on campus. 

Hearing Impairments 

A loss of hearing of 30 decibels or greater, pure tone average of 5000, 1000, 2000 Hz unaided in the better ear constitutes a loss significant enough to be considered a disabling condition. Examples include, but are not limited to, conductive hearing impairment or deafness, sensorineural hearing impairment or deafness, high or low tone hearing loss or deafness, and acoustic trauma hearing loss or deafness.

Students with hearing impairments may benefit from the following accommodations: notetaking assistance, assistive listening device (i.e., Comtek unit), sign language interpreter, real time captioning, captioning of audio & visual material, seating in the front of the class, and priority registration.

Instructional Tips

  • Front row seating for hearing impaired students is very important in most cases.
  • Keep your face within view of the student when speaking.
  • If a student is using an interpreter, talk directly to the student. Recognize that there is a slight lag on the information being translated to the student from the interpreter.
  • Repeat the questions and remarks of other people in the room.
  • Use visual aids and the chalkboard to reinforce spoken presentations.
  • When possible, provide students with class outlines, lecture notes, lists of technical terms and printed transcripts of audio material.
  • All videos need to be captioned and this includes media content posted for online access. If the video you need is not captioned and there is no other viable alternative, please consult with DSS right away.  It is possible for a video to be captioned through an available contract vendor. 
  • Do not obstruct the student’s view of the interpreter.
  • Most of our hearing impaired students prefer to use a real time captioner and some will use an interpreter as well. The captioner will often be seated in class with a device that is used to transcribe what is being said in class. 
  • You might be asked by a student to wear an assitive listening device.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the student what additional assistance they may need to complete your course.

Specific Learning Disabilities

“Learning Disability” is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, writing, reading, reasoning, mathematical abilities, or social skills.

Examples include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysphasia, dyscalculia, and other learning disabilities in the basic psychological or neurological process. Such disorders do not include learning problems which are due primarily to visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, below average aptitude or environmental deprivation.

At CSUSM, any student with a suspected learning disability must present assessment results that are current and which meet the CSU’s Learning Disability Eligibility Criteria.

Students with learning disabilities may benefit from the following accommodations: notetaking assistance, special testing accommodations, use of a test proctor for reading test questions and writing down answers, extended time for both in-class and out-of-class assignments (when timed), access to books in alternative format, use of a special computer, seating in the front of the class, and priority registration.

Instructional Tips 

  • Clearly separate items when spacing them on the exam sheet. For a student with perceptual deficits, for whom transferring answers is especially difficult, avoid using answer sheets, especially computer forms.  Allow them to write answers on the test or even dictate their responses.
  • Make lists of required readings available well before the first day of class to allow students to begin their reading early or to arrange to obtain books in alternative format.
  • Repeat or reword complicated directions.
  • Provide clear photocopies of your notes and PowerPoint Slides.
  • Material that is written on the chalkboard or PowerPoint Slides need to be read aloud.

Speech Impairment

These impairments include disorders of language, articulation, fluency, or voice which interfere with communication, preacademic or academic learning, vocational training, or social adjustment. Examples include, but are not limited to, selective mustism, cleft lip and/or palate with speech impairment, stammering, stuttering, laryngectomy, and aphasia.

Students with speech impairments may benefit from the following accommodations: substitution of projects in lieu of classroom presentations, audiotaping or videotaping of a presentation in place of live speech, and in some cases an oral interpreter

Instructional Tips

  • Give students the opportunity, but do not compel them to speak in class.
  • Permit students the time they require to express themselves without unsolicited aid in filling in gaps in their speech.
  • Address students with a regular tone of voice.
  • Consider course modifications such as one-to-one presentations, use of an oral interpreter, written scripts in place of presentations, audiotape or videotape presentations. 

Other Impairments

Cardiovascular and Circulatory Conditions:

Such conditions include, but are not limited to, congenital heart disease, rheumatic fever and chronic rheumatic heart disease, arteriosclerotic and degenerative heart disease, other diseases or conditions of the heart, other hypertensive diseases, varicose veins and hemorrhoids, and other conditions of the circulatory system.

Students with cardiovascular and circulatory conditions may benefit from the following accommodations: allow for missed exams to be made up, extensions on class assignments and priority registration.

Instructional Tips 
  • Students may miss classes due to illness and therefore, may need extensions on class assignments, exams and projects.
  • Students may need to get up and move around the classroom. 

Psychological Impairments:

Individuals with a  psychological impairment must have a DSMV diagnosis to warrant the need for support services through DSS.  Examples include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. 

There is a considerable amount of variation amongst students with this type of disability. For example, not all students with depression will need special accommodations through DSS.  In fact, many do not.  It is very important to keep in mind that the majority of students with psychological impairments are under treatment and quite functional.

Students with psychological impairments may benefit from the following accommodations:  allow for missed exams to be made up, extensions on class assignments, special testing accommodations and priority registration.

Instructional Tips
  • Students may benefit from extended time on classroom assignments when their condition warrants it.
  • Discuss inappropriate behavior with the student privately. Clearly discuss what is considered acceptable classroom conduct.  Feel free to consult with the Dean of Students Office.

Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was previously diagnosed as the following conditions: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Individuals with ASD tend to have difficulty with social communication and interactions. This may consist of poor eye contact, not understanding or following social norms, and/or difficulty modifying behavior to conform to each social context. They may have difficulties with changes, as they are typically more comfortable with routines and consistency.

Students with ASD may benefit from the following accommodations: Special testing accommodations, use of a computer for note taking/essay exams, and priority registration. Occasionally, a student may need to make up a missed exam or an extension on a class assignment. In some circumstances, the student may have a personal aid attendant.

Instructional Tips
  • Use clear and direct language. Say exaclty what you would like to see. Avoid figurative language.
  • Provide structure and set clear expectations. If possible, give advance notice of any course changes.
  • Group projects tend to be challenging to navigate. Providing structure on how groups are formed, topics that can be selected, and identified “roles” or tasks within the groups can be helpful.
  • A student with ASD may receive assistance from a personal aid attendant or a parent when communicating with an instructor. Allow them to assist with communication when appropriate.
  • Students may benefit from extended time on classroom assignments when their condition warrants it.
  • Discuss inappropriate behavior with the student privately. Clearly discuss what is considered acceptable classroom conduct. You are encouraged to send information via e-mail. This is especially important if the student does not respond to verbal requests. 

Blood Serum Disorders:

Typical disorders include hemophilia, sickle-cell anemia, and disorders where the cause is unknown. Students with this type of medical condition are likely to miss classes due to hospitalization or the need for bed

Students with blood serum disorders may benefit from the following accommodations: makeup exams for missed classes, extensions on classroom assignments and priority registration.

Instructional Tips
  • Assist students in getting copies of classroom notes for classes missed due to illness.
  • Be prepared to provide reasonable time extensions on assignments. 

Respiratory Disorders:

These are debilitating disorders which may include, but are not limited to, asthma, tuberculosis of the respiratory system, emphysema, pneumoconiosis and asbestosis, bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis and sinusitis, other diseases of the respiratory system.

Students with respiratory disorders may benefit from the following accommodations: makeup exams for missed classes, extensions on classroom assignments and priority registration.

Instructional Tips
  • Assist students in getting copies of classroom notes for classes missed due to illness.
  • Be prepared to provide reasonable time extensions on assignments.

Environmental Illness (EI):

Students with EI may have adverse reactions to environmental pollutants such as solvents, volatile organic chemicals, smoke, perfume, paint, carpet or pollen.  Serious health problems may result from exposure to certain pollutants.  DSS determines on a case-by-case basis how to best accommodate students with this type of illness. 

Instructional Tips 
  • Students may approach an instructor and request that they make a request to the class to please refrain from wearing artificial scents. This is acceptable. Though students cannot be made to stop wearing artificial scents, they can be requested to do so.

  • Be prepared to have the class moved to another location if a student simply cannot function in a certain room due to carpeting or paint.

Other conditions that necessitate administrative or academic adjustment and that do not fit into any of the above categories may also qualify. Please feel free to contact DSS for assistance in meeting the needs of students with disabilities that were not discussed in this section.


Any information a student shares with faculty regarding a disability is highly confidential and needs to be treated as such. Under no circumstances should a student’s disability situation be discussed in front of the class or in the presence of other students. Information on a student’s disability should not be shared with other faculty or staff unless there is an absolute need for them to be informed. In such situations, please be sure and consult with DSS directly to determine whether or not such a disclosure is necessary.

In order to receive accommodations, students must disclose to you that they have a disability and have a need for academic accommodations authorized through Disability Support Services. However, students are not required to disclose specific information about their disability to a faculty member since this information has already been obtained through DSS.

Faculty Responsibilities

The majority of support services required by students with disabilities are provided through Disability Support Services. However, the full cooperation of faculty is the key to the timely delivery of approved academic accommodations. In fact, as faculty members, you are legally required to ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided to students with disabilities enrolled in your course(s).

In order for CSUSM to continue to provide accommodations that are both compliant with applicable laws and CSU policy the following is needed from members of the faculty:

· Faculty cooperation with DSS in providing authorized accommodations and/or support services for the student in a fair and timely manner is critical.

  • Faculty will need to ensure that copies of classroom exams are given to DSS in a timely manner (two working days prior) to facilitate administration of special testing accommodations.
  • Faculty will need to provide handouts and classroom materials to DSS in a timely manner (three weeks prior) for students who need this material reproduced in an accessible format.
  • Faculty will consult with a representative of DSS if there is any question regarding how to implement authorized academic accommodations.
  • Faculty will comply with all campus policies regarding Sec.508 compliance and established deadlines for the submission of textbook titles.
  • Faculty will provide a classroom atmosphere which is harassment-free in nature and nondiscriminatory on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, handicap, marital status, sexual orientation, and national origin.
  • Faculty will make sure that course content that is posted online is accessible. Any assistance in making this happen can be provided directly by IITS (
  • Faculty will respect the confidentiality of students with disabilities and will not disclose information on any student’s disability without prior consent. This includes even mentioning to fellow classmates that a particular individual has a disability.

Questions Frequently Asked by Faculty

Background on Disability Support Services

California State University San Marcos, opened it’s doors for its first class of students in August of 1990. The Dean of Student Affairs anticipated there would be a need for a student services professional to work directly with the disabled student population. As a result, a Coordinator was hired to develop services for students with disabilities, as well as to act as an advocate for their highly individualized needs. Presently, Disability Support Services is staffed with a Director, Office Manager, Testing Scheduler, Notetaker Coordinator, Support Services Coordinator/Counselor, Senior Counselor and a Psychologist & Learning Disabilities Specialist. Services were developed to ensure that qualified students with disabilities would have equal access to the educational programs and activities offered at California State University San Marcos.

Mission Statement and Goals

The office of Disability Support Services (DSS) is committed to providing opportunities for higher education to students with disabilities and to making the programs, activities and facilities at California State University, San Marcos accessible to students with disabilities.

  1. To ensure that campus policies address the needs of students with disabilities. 
  1. To ensure that students with disabilities have full access to campus facilities and programs.
  1. To improve the campus community’s awareness and understanding of students with disabilities. 
  1. To ensure that educational policies and curricula are accessible for students with disabilities. 
  1. To interact with other agencies in the community who provide services to individuals with disabilities to ensure the availability of all resources.
  1. To provide appropriate support services for students with disabilities to ensure their participation in the full range of campus programs and activities.
  1. To involve students in assessing current needs, recommending new services, and expanding existing services as needed.
  1. To ensure the campus remains physically accessible by providing valuable input to those individuals responsible for future campus construction projects and the maintenance of the existing site. 
  1. To collaborate with other campus units in providing outreach and retention services to all CSUSM students, including students from diverse populations.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Office of Disability Support Services

The office of Disabilities Support Services (DSS) is committed to providing opportunities at CSU San Marcos for higher education to students with disabilities, to increasing the representation of enrolled students with disabilities, and to making its programs, activities and facilities fully accessible to students with disabilities.

In compliance with the CSU Policy for the Provision of Accommodations and Support Services to Students with Disabilities, DSS has the responsibility of providing the following services to students with a documented need: disability related counseling, interpreter services, reader services, test taking facilitation, transcription services, and notetaker services (all of these services are contingent on available funding and verified need).

Aside from the required support services listed, each university is responsible for providing the following: access to, and arrangements for, adaptive educational equipment, materials, and supplies required by disabled students; liaisons with campus and community agencies; registration assistance; supplemental specialized campus orientation; consultation with faculty to ensure that the special needs of students with disabilities are appropriately met; and acting as a liaison with campus outreach personnel to increase the representation of students with disabilities. In addition, students who suspect that they have an undiagnosed disability are eligible to meet with a DSS counselor for a comprehensive screening. If indicated, the student will then be referred to an appropriate outside professional for evaluation and treatment at the student’s own expense. Please keep in mind that Disability Support Services does not provide testing or diagnosing.

Student’s Roles and Responsibilities

Students with disabilities are responsible for contacting DSS to secure support services prior to each semester. Students must be knowledgeable of their individual disability to become successful advocates. In an effort to dispel the many negative stereotypes that exist regarding individuals with disabilities, students with disabilities are encouraged to integrate themselves into the campus community and to take an active part in the various opportunities for interaction at CSU San Marcos. It is hoped that students with disabilities will provide the Campus community with input to assist in ensuring that the academic programs as well as the physical site of the campus are as physically and programmatically accessible as possible. Continuous feedback from students is essential for the success of this University.

Initial Student Contact

Students interested in applying for accommodations need to notify DSS so that a packet of information can be either mailed or picked up by them. The information packet includes: Verification of Disability Form, Application for Support Services and a DSS Brochure.

The Verification of Disability Form and Application for Support Services need to be completed and returned to DSS. Once both forms are received by DSS, an intake interview is arranged for each eligible student to meet with a DSS professional. During the intake interview, the DSS counselor will utilize the interactive process with each student to best determine how to accommodate them. Information obtained from the student meeting will include specifics about the disability and current functional limitations, the types of support services that the student has received from any previously attended academic institution(s), and the specific support services that will be provided at CSU San Marcos are discussed. Support services are typically not implemented until verification of the student’s disability is received and an intake interview has taken place. However, short term interim accommodations may be authorized at the discretion of the DSS counselor.

Verification of Disability

A professionally verified disability is a condition that significantly impairs major life activities and is certified by a licensed physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech pathologist, or other appropriate professional. A student’s disability, if it is obvious (i.e., amputee, blind, quadriplegic), can be verified by a DSS professional. Students with learning disabilities must submit recent comprehensive evaluation results including cognitive and achievement test scores. For more information on the necessary documentation required, as well as to see how the CSU defines a learning disability please review the CSU Guidelines for the Assessment and Verification of Students with Learning Disabilities.

In accordance with the Chancellor’s Office guidelines, students with disabilities who transfer from community colleges in California where they received services because of a learning disability may be eligible to receive services through the Disability Support Services program at CSU San Marcos. However, the office of Disability Support Services will determine the specific support services provided at CSU San Marcos, and students with learning disabilities must meet the CSU Guidelines for the Assessment and Verification of Students with Learning Disabilities in order to qualify for services.

Before a student can receive support services from Disability Support Services, he/she must have an appropriate professional complete the Verification of Disability Form. Once this form is completed, it is immediately placed into the student’s file, an intake interview is conducted, and appropriate services are arranged. However, in lieu of a completed Verification of Disability Form, students can provide other types of disability documentation for DSS to review. It must be clear what the student’s current functional limitations are before accommodations or academic adjustments can be authorized.

Student File 

A student file is made for each student with a professionally verified disability who requests support services through Disability Support Services.  The following information is kept in each student’s file: Application for Support Services, Disability Verification Form, Evaluation of Disability Documentation and Reasonable Accommodation Request, Approved Support Services form, case notes, diagnostic test results, and other relevant information.  Inactive files are destroyed after seven years.  A student’s file is confidential.  No information shall be released without written authorization from the student unless there is a safety issue or an educational need to know.  Student disability records are protected in accordance with FERPA.

Support Services

Reasonable Accommodation Defined

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job activity, or facility that ensures an equal opportunity for qualified students with disabilities to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity.  Aids, benefits, or services need not produce equal results, but must afford an equal opportunity to achieve equal results.

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 Disabiltiy Support Services apply only to CSU 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.

Priority Registration/Registration Assistance

Priority registration is given to those students who have a specific need to be enrolled in courses during a specified time and day for reasons related to their disability. If a student believes they are in need of priority registration for disability related reasons, they need to speak with their DSS counselor. DSS staff may be able to provide some assistance to both present and future students with disabilities with applications for financial aid, admissions paperwork and other university related services. However, in some cases, students might be referred to other professionals on campus to fill out paperwork or have questions answered that are beyond the scope of the DSS staffs’ working knowledge.

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. Students interested in learning more about this will need to follow up with Parking Services directly.

Services for Students with Cognitive Disabilities

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

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 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 the appropriate office on campus. Official academic advising is provided by authorized faculty and through the Undergraduate Advising Services office. DSS can only provide supplemental advising and students are responsible for verifying the information provided with the official academic advisors on campus.

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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).
  1. 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 Support Services Coordinator.
  1. Interpreters / real time captioners will wait fifteen minutes for a student to show up for class. If the student does not show within 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.
  1. 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.

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. Only students with disability documentation from an appropriate professional (such as a medical doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist) will be considered for services. Please be advised extended testing time typically applies to timed exams and quizzes that are finite in duration (i.e., 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours). In comparison, an untimed exam may already allow for multiple days or even a week to complete and a time extension may or may not be applicable. It is important to keep in mind that testing accommodations may not be provided in situations in which doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to a course or program of study. For example, if an exam or quiz is timed and the students ability to answer questions correctly or perform a task within a specified time limit is deemed to be essential (e.g., credentialing requirements, licensing requirements, clinical skills assessments and etc.) then extended testing time may not be a reasonable accommodation. However, decisions regarding the appropriateness of an approved testing accommodation will need to be made utilizing the interactive process and will involve DSS, the assigned course instructor, and may include the program chair and dean of the college (or designee). Students or instructors who have questions on the applicability of extended time for an exam or quiz should reach out to DSS well in advance of the scheduled exam or quiz.

Students who are approved for testing accommodations can come by the DSS Testing Center in Administrative Building Suite 4200 to pick up their Testing Accommodation Packets for each class in which they are enrolled at the beginning of each semester. Alternatively, students can have their testing packets emailed to them by sending a request to Upon request, DSS can email the student’s instructors the testing packets as well and this will likely be done by the end of the first week of the semester. The packet consists of a general cover letter for the instructor, a Faculty Approved Accommodation sheet, and a blue-colored Testing Accommodation Request Form. The student is responsible for filling in the first three lines at the top of each blue accommodation request form with information pertaining to each course 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 as early in the semester as possible. Instructors will not provide special testing accommodations without receiving the necessary DSS paperwork or other form of official authorization. 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 (760-750-4904) or by email at: 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.


  1. 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.

    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 to work out the necessary arrangements. 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 6:00 pm and Friday it is open until 5:00 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. However, these hours may be modified in response to local or national emergencies or directives from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

    6. Please be advised that in situations that result in classes being impacted in a way that necessitates a change in course content delivery, then DSS will work with the assigned instructor(s) and student to ensure special testing accommodations can be provided to the greatest extent possible.

The DSS Testing Center will e-mail the instructor the day before the exam notifying the instructor that the student will be taking the exam in the center. While not required, it is a good idea for students to remind their instructor prior to each exam that the exam will be taken in the DSS Testing Center and the agreed upon scheduled start time to help 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 and a DSS counselor. The student is responsible for contacting the instructor to determine the deadline for completing the makeup exam. The instructor must personally inform DSS of the parameters agreed upon with the student. As soon as an agreement is reached with the instructor, 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.

Exam Monitoring

Students taking exams in DSS testing rooms will be monitored by video camera or live proctor as the testing situation may require. Additional methods of providing exam monitoring may occur for students needing to take their exams and/or quizzes in a virtual mode. 

Academic Integrity Within the Testing Environment

All students are held to the CSUSM Academic Honesty Policy. Students may not use any unauthorized aides to assist them during the administration of an exam or quiz. If a student is suspected of using unauthorized aides during an exam or quiz, a DSS staff member will immediately address the situation. The circumstances will be thoroughly documented, and any unauthorized aides will be confiscated. This information will be provided to the instructor who will decide whether or not the student should be allowed to complete the exam and what further actions will be taken. In the event the instructor cannot be immediately reached, the exam will proceed unless clear directions were provided in advance from the instructor to stop the administration if cheating is suspected. Per the Academic Honesty Policy, faculty are required to report any incidences of suspected violations of academic integrity to the Dean of Students Office. In accordance with the Academic Honesty Policy, any suspected cheating will be investigated by the Dean of Students Office and the student will need to go through any required investigative process.

Alternate Testing Formats

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.

Instructor/ Student Conflicts

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 and student to try and resolve the issue.

Temecula Location

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 onsite 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. Only students with documented print impairments are eligible to receive materials in alternate format. Students must show proof of purchase for materials needing to be converted before they can take possession of the material in E-text format. Students needing to access a reader can choose their own person or request DSS to provide one. The use of a reader is only for course related support for materials not already available in alternate format. However, there are exceptions and each request for a reader will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

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, and the various STEM Labs. 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 can either recruit their own notetakers for each class or request DSS directly recruit notetakers for them. Students will need to promptly notify DSS of any issues arising with a notetaker in order to result in a quick resolution.

If the student recruits their own notetaker, then the notetaker will need to be directed to DSS to fill out paperwork and pick up the notetaking packet. DSS will provide each notetaker with access to the office copy machine if needed.

Only CSUSM enrolled students are eligible to serve as a volunteer notetaker and receive a semester of priority registration and Letter of Volunteer Service. In very specific cases, DSS may approve for a notetaker to be paid on an hourly basis. Students can also choose to make use of Notetaking Express or Otter ai in lieu of using a student notetaker.

In order to receive notetaking services, the DSS student is expected to attend class on a regular basis. 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.

Please contact DSS should any notetaking questions or problems arise during the semester that cannot be resolved between the DSS student and the notetaker.

Adapted Equipment

The following items are available for student use in the academic setting: digital recorders, DAISY Players, talking calculators, raised line drawing kits, portable magnification devices, spellcheckers, Perkins Brailler, assistive listening devices and portable magnification devices 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 Dean of Students Office for appropriate action.

Additionally, DSS has several mobility scooters for students with orthopedic 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. Students are encouraged to check with their DSS counselor for additional information on how to access this lab. Please keep in mind students taking DSS proctored exams as well as to those undergoing authorized training on the use of specific adapted computers and/or software are given first priority.

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.” 

Please note that a service animal is limited to only a dog or miniature horse. 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. Please note that the use of a service animal on campus is not dependent on any type of authorization provided through DSS.

It is expected that the handler 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 or under the handlers control. 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 handler 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 handler.
  • Service animals housed in university housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian.

Purchasing Books and Supplies

Students in need of assistance (non-financial) in buying their textbooks and school supplies at the University Store are strongly encouraged to contact Customer Service at (760) 750-4730 to make appropriate arrangements. 

Academic Modifications 

DSS will work closely with an appropriate member of academic affairs in deciding the viability of course substitutions for students whose disability prevents them from completing an academic requirement. Presently, substitution policies are in place for the foreign language and general education mathematics requirements unless these subjects are required for a specific major or minor. Other academic requirements that need to be considered for modifications will be evaluated on case-by-case basis. Under no circumstances will a course substitution or academic adjustment be granted if doing so will substantially alter essential elements of an academic program. However, the decision to deny a requested accommodation or academic adjustment can only be made after the completion of a thorough evaluation which must include the instructor, Program Chair, Dean of the College (or designee) and the DSS Director (or designee).

Reasonable Accommodations for Extended Learning Students

DSS will work with students enrolled in programs provided through Extended Learning to ensure reasonable accommodations are provided. Students enrolled in Extended Learning are eligible for the same types of accommodations as regularly matriculated students and must also submit appropriate disability verification. Students with disabilities wishing to make use of reasonable accommodations to take part in the Extended Learning programs need to contact DSS as soon as possible. Students taking coursework at the Temecula Campus need to notify DSS promptly so the on-site accommodations can be arranged. Students will need to work with DSS prior to starting any coursework or certificate program if they will need accommodations.

Accommodations Within Internship and Clinical Sites

If a student will need special accommodations to take part in a required internship (or clinical placement) then Disability Support Services (DSS) needs to be notified in a timely manner. It is important to keep in mind that DSS will need to work in close collaboration with the field placement supervisor and perhaps the internship/clinical site to determine what accommodations can be provided. It is important to understand that off campus internship/clinical sites are not within the direct control of CSUSM. If the internship/clinical site makes a determination that a requested accommodation cannot be provided at their site, then every effort will be made by the academic program to secure another suitable placement. It is highly recommended that academic programs with required internships/clinical placements clearly state in their communication to students what the process is in order to request a reasonable accommodation. Additionally, it should be clear to each placement site that we will work with them to determine and implement any authorized accommodation for a student with a disability.

Disability Access and Compliance Committee (DACC)

The Disability Access and Compliance Committee (DACC) meet several times a semester to address disability issues of concern to the entire CSUSM community. This committee is comprised of student, faculty, staff and administration representatives. Students interested in learning more about DACC are strongly encouraged to meet with the Director of Disability Support Services.

Program Evaluation

DSS will provide students enrolled in the program with the opportunity to complete targeted assessments of services provided. Information gathered from assessments or surveys will be utilized for program improvements. This is generally done through a systemwide survey every five years. However, DSS reserves the right to initiate a program review that is independent of the systemwide survey if the need arises.

Grievance Policy

Students who are denied appropriate academic accommodations by one of the faculty are encouraged to meet with the Director of Disability Support Services. The director will meet with the student’s instructor to try and resolve the problem informally. If the instructor still refuses to allow the accommodations recommended by DSS, the student will be encouraged to file a complaint with the ADA Appeals Officer (Dean of Students). If the student files a complaint, the Dean of Students will initiate a formal investigation of the student’s grievance. Additionally, any student may file a grievance alleging that he or she has been discriminated against as the result of an action taken by any department or unit of the University, including DSS. Grievances can include, but are not limited to, denial of accommodation, delay and/or denial of services or auxiliary equipment, unequal treatment, program and architectural inaccessibility, or failure to be reasonably accommodated in the employment setting (campus positions only). Students wishing to file a grievance are encouraged to consult with the Dean of Students who is located in USU 3500 and can be reached by phone at (760) 750-4935. Finally, students do have the right to file a grievance directly with the Office for Civil Rights (Region IX) if they choose to do so.

** This handbook can be made available in alternate formats upon request **