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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 is dependent upon the needs of students and their current functional limitations. 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. Disability Support Services (DSS) will utilize the interactive process with each student to determine what accommodations will be provided. A significant amount of consideration will be given to the documentation provided and past history of using accommodations. However, interim or temporary support services may be approved for students whose disability documentation is inconclusive and are in the process of being reevaluated. Accommodations or modifications cannot be provided if they would result in a fundamental alteration to a course or program of study. In situations in which a request for a specific accommodation has been denied by the Disability Support Services office, the student can appeal the decision directly to the Title IX/ADA Appeals Officer (see Grievance Policy for more details). In addition, it is important for students to understand that the accommodations authorized by Disability Support Services apply only to California State University, San Marcos.

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 DSS office to learn about the accessible features of the campus.

Priority Registration/Registration Assistance 

Priority registration is provided to students who require interpreting/captioning services, access to information in alternate format, special testing accommodations, those who are currently receiving special medical treatment that requires them to be available at specific periods of the day or to those with significant mobility impairments. 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 

A valid DMV Placard, DP or DV License Plate and a valid parking permit are required in order to access designated disabled parking spaces. 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

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

Students who have a documented cognitive disability (i.e., psychological disorder, ADHD, learning disability or acquired brain injury) that substantially limits one or more areas of major life functioning

are eligible for services through DSS. Documentation 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, 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).

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 encouraged to seek a further evaluation by an off campus provider. If the student does pursue an evaluation for a cognitive disability from a qualified provider, they are strongly encouraged to ask the provider to consult with DSS prior to completing the evaluation. Please note that DSS does not provide diagnosis or treatment of disability related conditions and is not responsible for payment of services provided by off campus providers. 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 officially provided by the assigned advisors through Undergraduate Advising Services and the various colleges. The DSS counselors can provide students with supplemental academic advising. Students are responsible for meeting with their official academic advisors to ensure they are taking the necessary courses to complete their degree requirements. 

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 order of 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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. 
  4. Interpreters / real time captioners will wait fifteen minutes for a student to arrive 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.
  5. 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 on a case-by-case basis to students with documented disabilities. 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 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 go to the Testing Center in Craven Hall Suite 4200 and receive one Testing Accommodation Packet for each class in which they are enrolled. The packet consists of a cover letter addressed to the specific instructor, an approved support services 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 the Testing Center in Craven Rm. 4200. The instructor will complete the remainder of the form and should return it directly to the Testing Scheduler in the Testing Center within one week. To ensure the integrity of information on the form, the instructor, not the student, should return the accommodation form to the Testing Scheduler in the Testing Center. One week after giving the packet to the instructor, the student should check with either the instructor or the Testing Scheduler to find out if the form has been completed and returned. Testing accommodations cannot be arranged until this form has been received by the Testing Scheduler.

When picking up student Testing Accommodation Packets, only ask for as many as you are planning to use. Not all students will make use of special testing accommodations in each course. This is important so we are not involved in the administration of exams that a student has decided to take in class instead of the Testing Center. For students taking online courses, please be sure and email testingscheduler@csusm.edu so the official paperwork can be emailed to you. Students will need to email this paperwork to their online instructor. If a student would rather have DSS send the paperwork, then please email testingscheduler@csusm.edu to make this request. Regardless, it is good practice to remind your online instructor to adjust your permitted time allowed prior to any scheduled timed exam or quiz.

A test date and time are not automatically scheduled for the student. The student is responsible to reserve a room in the Testing Center located in Craven Hall Suite Rm. 4200. The student needs to contact the Testing Center, located in Craven Hall Rm. 4200, to complete a Testing Accommodation Reservation form for each individual exam throughout the semester. This is required so DSS can work on acquiring sufficient rooms for exam administrations throughout the semester. Ideally, testing accommodations must be set no less than two (2) weeks prior to each exam. Accommodations will not 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 the Testing Scheduler as soon as the exam date is announced in class. If the instructor changes an exam date, the student should inform the Testing Scheduler immediately and reschedule the previously set testing accommodation appointment.

A testing accommodation appointment will be set between the student and the Testing Scheduler in accordance with the following: 

  1. The student will begin the exam in the Testing Center at the same time that the class begins the exam, and will receive a time extension (according to the approved accommodation) 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 need to notify their instructor and the Testing Scheduler.
  4. If #3 is the only workable option, the instructor must contact the Testing Center to work out the necessary arrangements. The student is responsible to contact the Testing Center to set up a testing accommodation reservation following the parameters set by the agreement with the instructor.
  5. If the student has an exam that extends past or begins after are regular hours of operation then DSS will work on providing the necessary staffing to proctor the exam. If this is not possible, then DSS will work on trying to secure the necessary authorization to administer the exam on a different day or time frame.
  6. If the student has a Saturday class, the student should contact the professor to seek permission to take the exam on Monday or Friday. However, if this is not possible, then DSS will provide the necessary staffing to proctor the exam on a Saturday.

It is the responsibility of the student to remind the instructor in advance of each exam that the test will be taken in the Testing Center, and to inform him/her of the scheduled start time to ensure that an exam copy will be made available before that time. In addition, students taking exams and quizzes that are administered online are highly encouraged to remind their instructor to adjust their exam time to reflect the amount of time they have been authorized to receive for an extension through DSS.

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 a DSS Counselor.

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 the Testing Scheduler of the parameters agreed upon with the student. As soon as an agreement is reached with the professor, the student must contact the Testing Scheduler to set a testing accommodation reservation for the makeup exam. Before the Testing Scheduler can administer the makeup exam, the student must provide verification from an appropriate professional substantiating that the absence on the original test date was disability related.

The student is expected to check in at the Testing Center at least five minutes before the scheduled starting time for the exam. Except with permission of the instructor, a student who arrives late for an exam will not be given additional time to compensate for testing time missed due to tardiness.

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 the Testing Scheduler who will either intervene or have the Director of DSS take action on the student’s behalf.

Please be advised that students taking exams in DSS are monitored. A student who is caught using aides that are not permitted will have the items removed from the testing room and the professor will be immediately notified. A written explanation of the events that transpired will be emailed to the instructor. It is important to keep in mind that DSS has no official role in the Student Conduct process if this route is taken by an instructor. Regardless, a student will not lose their eligibility to access their accommodations. 

Please be advised that the Testing Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00am until 9:00pm and on Fridays until 6:00pm. The hour of operation may be modified in response to local or national emergencies or directives from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

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. Only students with documented print impairments are eligible to receive materials in alternate format. Students must show proof of purchase for materials that need 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, the STEM Center, PARL, 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 (www.csusm.edu).

Notetaker Services

Students who are approved for notetaking services can either recruit their own notetakers for each class or have 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 in Craven Hall, Suites 4200 & 4300 to fill out paperwork and pick up the notetaking packet. There are several ways for the DSS student to receive the notes. 1) Our office 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. 2)The notetaker can email or scan and email the notes directly to the DSS Student. 3)Notetaker can use of the copy machine in our offices to copy their notes for the student in need and we will put them in a pick-up drawer.

Only CSUSM enrolled students are eligible to serve as a volunteer notetaker and receive a semester of priority registration. 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 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.

Students should contact DSS in order to resolve any issues that might arise with a notetaker. Any questions regarding the notetakers can also be directed to the Notetaker Coordinator at notetakers@csusm.edu .

Adapted Equipment 

The following items are available, and approved on a case by case basis, for student use in the academic setting: tape recorders and players, digital recorders, talking calculators, specialized devices for playing RFB&D books, raised line drawing kits, portable magnification devices, spellcheckers, Perkins Brailler, 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 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 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 students taking DSS proctored exams, as well as those undergoing authorized training on the use of specialized adapted computer equipment/or software, will be given first priority for access.

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.

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. However, a therapy animal or companion animals are not service animals and are only permitted in campus housing with prior authorization from DSS.

It is expected that the handler of a service animal will maintain strict control of the animal at all times. Service animals and ESAs 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 and ESAs 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 handler at all times, except where service animals are prohibited.
  • Do not pet a service animal without the permission of its handler.
  • 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 appropriateness 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 student’s specific major minor. Other academic requirements needing to be considered for modifications will be evaluated on case-by-case basis. Under no circumstances will a course substitution be granted if doing so will substantially alter essential elements of an academic program. 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

Disability Support Services 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 at our CSU San Marcos location promptly in order for on-site accommodations to be arranged each semester.

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 progam 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. Until the situation is resolved, the student will receive the accommodations authorized by DSS. 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.