DSS Student Guide

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Welcome to DSS

Congratulations! We are happy you have decided to continue your education at Cypress College. Disability Support Services (DSS) would like to welcome you to our Program. It is our hope that our services will enhance your educational development and help you meet your academic goals. We hope you will take full advantage of all the services offered here at Cypress College.

The first thing you should do is apply to Disability Support Services (DSS). You may do this by visiting the DSS webpage and following the instructions. As part of the online application process, you will need to upload your disability verification document. This may be your IEP, medical verification from a doctor, or another form of disability documentation verified and signed by a disability or medical professional. If you have questions or need assistance with the application process, please call (714) 484-7104.

Applying to DSS — Eligibility for Services

In order to be eligible for disability support services, students must provide documentation of a disability. Such documentation may include an IEP, psychological and/or medical reports, or specialized testing reports (audiogram, vision tests, LD assessment, etc.).

The categories of disabilities served include: vision, hearing, physical, learning disabilities, mental health, acquired brain injuries, intellectual, other health conditions, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder. These categories are outlined in Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

Steps to apply to Disability Support Services (DSS)

  • Obtain a Student ID Number after applying to Cypress College.
  • Visit the DSS website and click on Charger Access Student Portal.
  • Click on “Apply to DSS.”
  • Log in using your myGateway ID and password.
  • Follow the instructions and complete all sections.
  • Upload disability documentation (i.e. IEP, medical verification, audiology report)
  • Submit your application

Allow one (1) week for DSS to contact you by email to schedule a New Student Appointment (NSA) with a counselor.

During the NSA, you will discuss courses, accommodations, your rights and responsibilities, and develop an Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP). You will be expected to meet with a counselor and/or request DSS services/accommodations at least once per semester to continue receiving services through DSS. Students with learning disabilities may be required to reassess to determine appropriate accommodations for college. The Learning Disability (LD) Specialist will review all supporting documents and complete an LD assessment, if needed.

How to Request Services and Accommodations

To receive services and accommodations, students must be registered with DSS and have an Academic Accommodations Plan (AAP) on file that lists their counselor-approved accommodations. Students must request their accommodation letters through their Charger Access Student Portal. Students who wish to receive accommodations must update their DSS file every year and request accommodation letters every semester.

Problems with Services and/or Accommodations

Students must request their accommodation letters through their Charger Access Portal to initiate the facilitation of an accommodation. If a student is authorized and requests through their student portal a unique accommodation, such as a reader or scribe, a DSS staff member will coordinate this service/accommodation with the student after DSS has received the request for an accommodation letter. 

Students who need assistance requesting their accommodation letters or are experiencing problems with their DSS services and/or accommodations should contact DSS as soon as possible at (714) 484-7104 or visit the DSS office in CCC 100. DSS staff will attempt to resolve the situation with the student. Students who feel they have been treated unfairly and have a complaint about services or accommodations may refer to the accommodation complaint resolution procedure.

Services and Accommodations

Relevant Laws, Bills, and Statutes

Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964: Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in all employment situations involving programs or activities aided by federal financing.

Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964: Prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in all employment practices: hiring, firing, promotions, compensation, and in all other terms, conditions and benefits of employment, including vacations, pensions, and seniority.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1965 (FERPA): Amended in 1992 and again in 1994. According to its sponsors, “the purpose of the act is two-fold to assure [students and the] parents of students… access to their education records, and to protect such an individual’s’ rights to privacy by limiting the transferability for their records without consent. The Act applies to any educational agency or institution which is the recipient of federal funds. Parents lose their FERPA rights when their child turns 18 or starts attending a postsecondary institution, whichever comes first.

Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”

Assembly Bill 77 (Lanterman Bill, 1974): Provides the funding mechanism for DSS in California Community Colleges.

American with Disabilities Act of 1990: Extends universal civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities, covering public and private sector employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.

Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations: Provides guidelines for implementation of California Community Colleges’ DSS programs.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1998: Requires that federal departments and those receiving grants from the federal government of the Chancellor’s office to purchase, develop and use electronic information technology that meets accessibility standards developed by the U.S. Access Board. Assembly Bill 422 (California Education Code, Section 67302, January 2000): mandates publishers in California to provide the right and the means to produce instructional materials in alternate formats (braille, large print, audio recordings, and e- text)

Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges believes that your education is important and that the services and accommodations are to be taken seriously. Your rights and responsibilities are defined by them in law as well. Title V of the California Code of Regulations is quoted below.

56008. Student Rights

Participation by students with disabilities in [DSS] shall be entirely voluntary. Receiving support services or instruction authorized under this Sub-chapter shall not preclude a student from also participating in any course, program or activity offered by the college.

All records maintained by [DSS] personnel pertaining to students with disabilities shall be protected from disclosure and shall be subject to all other requirements for handling of student records as provided in Sub-chapter 2 of Chapter 5 of this Division.

56010. Student Responsibilities

Students receiving support services or instruction under this Sub-chapter shall:

  • Comply with the Student Code of Conduct adopted by the college and all other applicable statutes and regulations related to student conduct;
  • Be responsible in their use of DSS services and adhere to written service provision policies adopted by DSS; and
  • When enrolled in educational assistance classes, make measurable progress toward the goals developed for the course as established in the student’s Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP) or,
  • When the student is enrolled in general college classes, meet academic standards established by the college, as applied to all students, pursuant to Subchapter 6 (commencing with Section 55500) of Chapter 6 of this Division.
  • Make measurable progress toward the goals established in the Student’s Educational Contract or, when the student is enrolled in a regular college course, meet academic standards established by the college.

A district may adopt a written policy providing for the suspension or termination of DSS services where a student fails to comply with a2, a3, or a4 of this section. Such policies shall provide for written notice to the student prior to the suspension or termination and shall afford the student an opportunity to appeal the decision. Each student shall be given a copy of this policy upon first applying for services from DSS.

Suspension or Termination of DSS Services

There are two ways in which an eligible student may be denied services through DSS:

1.  Lack of Measurable Progress:

  • Failure to meet Cypress College’s academic standards (i.e. academic dismissal, suspension or expulsion)
  • Two consecutive semesters of failure to comply with DSS service policies.
  • Failure to make measurable progress towards the goals established in the student’s Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP) for two consecutive semesters.

2.  Inappropriate Use of Services:

Defined as a failure to comply with the policies and procedures of individual services authorized for a student. Failure to comply with the terms stated within each specific service area may result in the suspension or termination of that service.

  • Only services that have been used inappropriately may be terminated in   the middle of a semester.
  • Prior to the suspension or termination of services, the student will be notified in writing. The letter will inform the student that they must meet with a DSS Counselor or DSS Director within one (1) week from the date of the letter to discuss the area of concern. If the student does not schedule the meeting or fails to attend, services will be suspended or terminated.
  • At the time of the meeting with the Counselor or Director, the student will sign a contract that outlines the guidelines for continuing the service.
  • If service is terminated, the termination will be for the semester of inappropriate use and not affect subsequent semesters. If, however, the inappropriate use of services occurs at the end of a semester, then the termination may continue  into the following semester.

Suspended or terminated services may be reinstated during the current   semester upon the recommendation of the DSS Counselor or DSS Director. If service is reinstated, a letter will be sent to the student informing him/her of that circumstance.

Qualities of a Successful Student

Successful students:

  • Obtain all books, supplies, and course materials before classes start.
  • Attend all classes and are on time to classes.
  • Sit attentively in the front of class.
  • Actively participate in class.
  • Come to class prepared.
  • Review the previous lecture before each class.
  • Make sure they understand assignments correctly and completely before plunging into the assignment.
  • Turn in assignments that look neat and sharp.
  • Use a word processor with spell check to identify misspelled words.
  • Always read assigned readings prior to class.
  • Review and revise their class notes within 24 hours of class.
  • Keep track of their grades throughout the semester.
  • Meet with their instructor either before or after class or during office hours to discuss course material, clarify assignments, or ask for feedback on exams and papers.
  • Take advantage of extra credit opportunities.
  • Make use of an academic planner.
  • Schedule routine study times each week and study in a distraction-free place.
  • Break study time up into manageable segments.
  • Know their class schedule and names of their instructors.


Self-advocacy is the ability to identify and explain your needs.

  • You are responsible for your own success.
  • Consider how your disability affects you as a student and what abilities you have that will lead you to success.
  • Develop good communication skills to request accommodations and services.
  • Recognize and ask when you need help.
  • Get organized.

Time Management

Time management is a very important tool used by successful college students. College classes require students to learn a portion of the material outside of class. As a general rule, students should spend two hours studying outside of class for every hour spent in class. This is known as the 2:1 ratio.

Advantages of time management:

  • Creates enough time to study.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety caused by time pressures.
  • Reduces procrastination and avoids cramming.
  • Allows time to do the things you enjoy.
  • Helps you feel more in control of your life.
  • Helps you use your time effectively.
  • Increases motivation.

HOT TIP: Plan to study when you are most alert and always break study time up into manageable segments. No marathon study sessions!

Test-Taking Strategies

Some students believe they are not good at taking tests; however, test taking is a skill students can master. The following steps are designed to help you remember what you have studied, make fewer errors, and feel more relaxed.

  • Before going to class, make sure you have all materials needed for the test.
  • Arrive at least 5 minutes early. Sit down, get settled, close your eyes for a moment, take deep relaxing breaths, and relax the muscles in your body.
  • Once you receive the test, look over the whole test – note the number and types of questions, and consider how much time you will have to complete the test. Carefully read the directions.
  • Read each question carefully, completely, and more than once. Underline key words in the question. Be sure to read all the choices on multiple choice questions, even if you see the right answer immediately.
  • Do not spend too much time on a really difficult problems.
  • Answer the easy questions first then go back to the questions you skipped.
  • Leave no blanks! Even if you have no idea of the answer, make some kind of attempt. If you write something down, you may receive partial credit.
  • Before turning it in, read through the test. Check for missed pages or questions, etc.
  • Attempt all extra credit. You have nothing to lose and might gain some extra points.

HOT TIP: If you tend to rush through exams, slow down. There are no extra points for being the first person finished!

Reducing Test Anxiety

  • Avoid procrastination! Keep up with the course syllabus.
  • Read textbook chapters prior to the lecture and allow plenty of time to complete assignments. The week before an exam is NOT the time to begin reading your textbook.
  • Avoid cramming! Be well prepared for exams, and don’t wait until the last minute to study. Plan to begin studying for a test one week in advance.
  • Think positive! Remind yourself of experiences you’ve had where you felt competent. Don’t overemphasize the importance of the grade – it is not a reflection of your self-worth. Remember, a test is only a test – there will be others.
  • Put things in perspective! A test is not a life-or-death situation. Receiving a bad grade is not pleasant; however, you can certainly recover from it.
  • Visualize success! As you are waiting for your test to be passed out, close your eyes, take a few slow relaxing breaths, relax your muscles, and picture yourself taking the test.
  • Take care of your body! Poor diet and lack of sleep contribute to feelings of anxiety. Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep – especially before an exam

HOT TIP: Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Increased heart rate, upset stomach, dry mouth, and tense muscles are indicators for test anxiety. Close your eyes for a moment, take deep relaxing breaths, and relax the muscles in your body.

Evacuation Procedures for People with Disabilities

Suggestions for People with Disabilities

  • Be familiar with all standard Cypress College emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Become aware of exits in buildings and offices.
  • Make sure your instructors are aware of your needs.
  • Establish a buddy system and alternate for each class or working area. Instruct these buddies on how to assist you in the event of an emergency. Some people may need two buddies.
  • People who are deaf may wish to prepare a written card requesting non-verbal emergency assistance and guidance (in writing or gesture).
  • If assistance is not immediately available and you cannot exit the building you should remain calm and move to the safest area possible, such as an enclosed stairwell or an office with the door shut, which is a good distance from the hazard and away from falling debris. Rescue personnel will first check all exit corridors and stairwells for those trapped.
  • Continue to call for help or use a whistle or noisemaker until rescued.

In all emergencies, after an evacuation has been ordered

  • Evacuation of people with disabilities will be given the highest priority in all emergencies and will be carried out if possible. Evacuating a person with a disability or injured person by only one person with no assistance is a last resort. Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance.
  • Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training.
  • Do NOT use elevators, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel. Elevators could fail during a fire, earthquake, or flood.

Emergency Responses by Disability

Blindness or Low Vision

  • Most persons who are blind or have low vision will be familiar with the immediate area they are in and may have learned locations of exits and fire alarms in advance.
  • Tell the person the nature of the emergency and offer to guide them by offering your elbow (this is the preferred method when acting as a “Sighted Guide”). Do NOT grasp a blind or person with low vision’s arm.
  • Ask the person to bring their white cane, their guide dog, and any other mobility aids.
  • Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and directional terms or information (i.e. elevators cannot be used or if there is debris or a  crowd).
  • As you walk, tell the person where you are and advise of any obstacles, e.g. stairs, overhanging objects, uneven pavement, curbs, or narrow passageways.
  • When you have reached a safe lawn, parking lot or designated evacuation center, orient the person to where they are and ask if any further assistance is needed.
  • Some individuals may have guide dogs that may be disoriented during  the emergency and may require additional assistance.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Some structures may not be equipped with visual (flashing light) evacuation alarms and persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may not perceive an emergency exists. An alternative warning technique is required. Two (2) methods of warning are:
  • Write a note stating what the emergency is and what the evacuation route is- i.e. “Fire-go out the rear door to Parking Lot”.
  • Turn the room lights on and off to gain attention – then indicate through hand gestures or writing (i.e. on a black board) what is happening and where to go.
  • Offer visual instructions to advise the individual of the safest route or give directions by pointing toward exits or evacuation map.
  • People who cannot speak loudly, or who have voice/speech impairments, may be carrying a whistle or have other means of attracting attention of others.

Physical Disabilities

  • Untrained personnel should NOT evacuate persons with severe physical disabilities unless the situation is life threatening. It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris (if possible) so that the person with a disability can move out or to a safer area.
  • Be sure the person has crutches, a cane, walker, or any other mobility aid with them.
  • If people with mobility disabilities cannot exit, they should move to a safer area, e.g. most enclosed stairwells, or an office with the door shut which is a good distance from the hazard (and away from falling debris in the case of earthquakes).
  • Notify Campus Safety, police or fire personnel immediately about  any people remaining in the building and their locations.