FAQs About Disability Support Services
How does DSS justify extra time on tests for students with learning disabilities? It
seems unfair to the other students, who would probably improve their score as well, if they
were allowed additional time.
Various factors account for the need for extra time on tests for students with learning
disabilities. These include: a) speed of processing; b) difficulty with the mechanics of
spelling, punctuation and syntax; c) visual perceptual deficits; and d) reading comprehension
deficits. Research (at UC Berkeley, 1991 and the University of Toronto, 1993) on the effects
of extended time on exams has shown dramatic improvements for students with learning disabilities,
but only marginal improvement for students without learning disabilities. Rather than providing
learning disabled students with an unfair advantage over other students in the class, extended
time for exams allows these students to demonstrate their level of mastery of the course
objectives, rather than reflecting their learning disabilities. In other words, it "levels
the playing field."
What kinds of test accommodations do students with low-vision use?
Students with low-vision, although they are able to read the test questions, experience
a great deal of fatigue while concentrating on the printed word (even when enlarged) and
may want to use a reader as a back-up support.
As a professor, can I be assured that students who take exams for my classes at the
DSS office are being monitored closely enough to prevent cheating?
Students who use test accommodations through DSS are monitored regularly by DSS staff.
If the professor wishes to have a proctor in the room with the student at all times, that
may be arranged.
Does a student who identifies himself or herself to the university as having a physical
or learning disability automatically receive support services from DSS?
Prior to receiving any assistance from DSS, a student must present documentation of a
disability which interferes with a major life function from a qualified professional source.
The CSU Office of the Chancellor provides the criteria and policy for verification of a
disability as follows: "
a professionally verified disability means a condition
certified by a licensed physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech pathologist, rehabilitation
counselor, learning disability specialist, or other appropriate professional." Any
CSU student who has transferred and received services from a California community college
or UC campus as a student with a disability may also be eligible for services from DSS.
Should I refer a student to DSS?
Faculty members are encouraged to refer students whom they suspect may have learning or
other disabilities to the DSS office professionals.
How do I verify the eligibility of a student who simply tells me that he or she is
disabled and requires accommodations?
On the CSUF campus, the DSS office is regarded as the authority to certify disabilities
and to determine whether a student qualifies for academic accommodations and support services.
All students eligible to receive services at CSUF have presented the necessary documentation
or have been assessed and verified by the DSS staff. Students registered with DSS are directed
to present an Accommodation Letter to their professors to verify their eligibility to receive
Will most students with disabilities (who are already aware of their disability) identify
themselves to their professors at the beginning of the semester?
Students who use DSS support services are directed to meet with individual professors during
office hours at the beginning of the semester in order to discuss how their disability may
have an impact on the specific course. Some students choose not to identify themselves,
thereby choosing not to utilize prescribed class/test modifications, for various reasons.
Other students may be involved in a learning disability assessment for much of the semester
and may find they are eligible for support services in the middle, or even at the end, of
the semester. It is important to realize that any student requesting classroom accommodations
must make timely requests for appropriate accommodations.
How are accommodations determined for a student with a learning disability?
Modifications are determined on an individual basis after considering the specific learning
disability, the course requirements, and past academic experiences. Modifications are designed
to provide an equal educational opportunity, not to give the student a competitive edge.
Do I have the right to know the nature of a students disability?
The information regarding a students disability should be shared only when there
is a compelling reason for disclosure. The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated that
a faculty member generally does not have a need to know what the disability is, only that
it has been appropriately verified by the office assigned this responsibility on behalf
of the institution. Students may submit their verification to DSS without disclosing to
the professor the specific nature of their disability. Upon a students request for
accommodations, the university and the professor are required by law to properly accommodate
Do I have the right to know which students in my classes have disabilities?
All students have the right to keep their disability confidential. However, in order for
students to receive accommodations in a class, they need to identify themselves to the professor
and to follow the compliance guidelines of the DSS office and the university.