DSS Faculty Guide

Introduction to DSS

Disability Support Services (DSS) at Cypress College serves approximately 1,000 students with disabilities each year.

Disability Support Services fosters inclusive learning environments allowing students to more fully participate in and benefit from courses at the college. Support services include alternative testing, sign language interpreters, note taking assistance, and much more.

This handbook is designed to serve as a tool to help faculty understand how disabilities affect learning in a college setting and suggests adjustments that can be made in the environment or teaching style.

Cypress College DSS follows the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the California Education Code, and Title V of the California Code of Regulations. Title V regulations provide guidance to the colleges in their legal and fiscal responsibilities to DSS and to students with disabilities.  The college is required to provide these services to students.  If an instructor has questions about providing accommodations and access, they should contact DSS.

DSS assists the college in complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states that “no qualified individual with disabilities shall, on the basis of their disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subject to discrimination under any post-secondary program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Post-secondary institutions must ensure that students with disabilities are not excluded from programs because of the absence of educational auxiliary aids. Federal law states that “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States… shall, solely, by reason of his 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.” The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 extends federal civil rights protection. It prohibits excluding people from jobs, services, activities or benefits based on disability. The laws are described in more detail in the Appendix.

After reviewing this handbook, feel free to contact DSS if you have additional questions or concerns. You may contact DSS at (714) 484-7104 or dss-student@cypresscollege.edu. Its office is located in CCCPLX-100.

Cypress College’s DSS office acknowledges and thanks Cuesta College, Mt. San Antonio College, Cerritos College, and College of the Desert for their contribution to the Cypress College DSS Faculty Guide.

Relevant Laws, Bills, and Statutes at a Glance

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 Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1965 (FERPA):

The Act was amended in 1992, 1994, and again in 2008. 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 individuals’ rights to privacy by limiting the transferability of their records without their consent.” The Act applies to any educational agency or institution which is the recipient of federal funds. Parents lose their PERPA 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 the 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 DSP&S California Community Colleges.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990:

Amended in 2008. 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’ DSP&S programs.

Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act of 1998:

Requires that federal departments and those receiving grants from the federal government or the Chancellor’s Office to purchase only 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).

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 is also known as the “Access Law.” Provides program and physical access for students with disabilities.

State that: “No otherwise qualified individual in the United States…shall, solely by reason of disability, 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.”

When providing aid, benefit or service, public entities must provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate that are as effective as the opportunities provided to others.

The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education defines “effective communications” as “timeliness of delivery, accuracy of the translation, and provision in a manner and medium appropriate to the significance of the message and the abilities of the individual with the disability.”

Mechanism for enforcement of this law is the withholding of federal funds.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990

Americans with Disabilities And Amendments Act (ADAAA) 2008

Extends the framework of civil rights laws and of Section 504. Mandates reasonable access for people with disabilities with all public and private entities. Provides essentially the same protection as Section 504, except it is broader in context and coverage, and redress is more specifically defined.

Title I – Employment: Prohibits employers of 15 or more to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee with a disability and also prohibits retaliation against any individual who has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by the ADA.

Title II – Public Services and Transportation: Prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against people with disabilities in their programs and activities. Includes entities receiving state or federal funding such as community colleges in anti-discrimination clauses.

New public buses, new train cars in commuter, subway, intercity, and light rail systems as well as new stations and facilities must be accessible.

Title III – Public Accommodations: Prohibits privately operated public accommodations from denying goods, programs and services to people based on their disabilities. Businesses must accommodate patrons with disabilities by making reasonable modifications to policies and practices, providing auxiliary aids and improving physical accessibility.

Title IV – Telecommunications: Telephone companies need to provide continuous voice transmission relay services that allow people with speech and hearing disabilities to communicate over the phone through teletypewriters (TTYs). Also requires that federally funded television public service messages be closed captioned for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions: Specifics for enforcement of the act and provisions for attorney’s fees.

A Guide to Disability Etiquette

1. Ask the student

While we encourage students to discuss their needs with their instructors, this is not always done. If you have questions about whether or not a student needs an accommodation, the first person to ask is the student.

2. Ask before doing

Don’t assume people with disabilities need your help. Ask if you can be of assistance.

3. Be aware of your language

Using terms such as “student with disabilities” rather than “disabled students” puts the emphasis on the person rather than their disability.

4. Relax

Don’t be afraid to approach a person with a disability. Don’t worry about using words like “walk” with a person using a wheelchair. As with anyone else, treat them as you would like to be treated – with the same respect and consideration that you have for everyone else.

5. Speak directly to the student

Don’t consider a companion to be a conversation go-between. Even if the student has an interpreter present, speak directly to the student, not to the interpreter. Make eye contact.

6. Give your full attention

Be considerate of the extra time it might take for a person with a disability to get things said or done. Don’t talk for the person who has difficulty speaking, but give help when needed. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting.

7. Speak slowly and distinctly

When talking to a person who is hard of hearing or has other difficulty understanding, speak slowly without exaggerating your lip movement. Stand in front of the person and use gestures to aid communication. Some students who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on being able to read your lips. When full understanding is doubtful, write notes.

8. Appreciate abilities

Students with disabilities, like those without disabilities, do some things well and others not as well. By focusing on what they can do, instead of what they can’t, you will help build confidence.

9. Keep it simple

Although some students with disabilities may require significant adaptation and modification in the classroom, more often common sense approaches can be applied to ensure that students have access to course content.  Some students don’t require technical assistance.  Always communicate with the student first to collaborate on solutions.

How to Refer a Student to DSS

If a student has a disability and requests accommodations or services, refer the student to DSS.

It is likely that there are students in your classroom who you suspect may need disability accommodations. If you decide to approach the student to discuss a possible need for services, please be sensitive that the student may either be reluctant to discuss their disability or may have difficulty explaining it to you.  Also, please choose to discuss in a private setting. 

When speaking privately with a student whom you suspect of having a disability but is not yet registered with DSS, try the following.

  1. Talk with your student using open-ended, non-threatening inquiries.
    1. What do you think of your assignment?
    2. Were you happy with your test results?
  2. If your student seems unaware of any problems, explain your observation clearly.
    1. I’ve noticed you have difficulty organizing your thoughts in writing. What do you think?
  3. Ask your student to describe their educational history. Listen to determine if their difficulties are long-standing or situational. If they mention special education or having an “IEP” in middle or high school, this is a great opportunity to bring up the “DSS talk.” You might say, “Well, did you know that Cypress College also offers programs and services that address learning difficulties and that help students be more successful?”
  4. Explain that your referral is NOT punitive, but rather, it’s a way to help them reach full potential.
  5. Don’t refer a student without having an open discussion with them. Make sure they clearly understand your concern(s).
  6. Don’t refer a student just because they did poorly on a test. Disabilities, specifically learning disabilities, are chronic, and students develop patterns. Look for these.
  7. If appropriate and possible, directly connect your student to DSS by calling X47104 or walking them over to the office. 

If you are still unsure of how to approach a student you suspect might have a disability, please consult with DSS by calling (714) 484-47104.

Instructors are required and asked to place a disability services statement in your syllabus. 

Example #1:  “I have made every effort to make this course accessible to all students. If you encounter a problem accessing anything in this course or require an academic adjustment based on the impact of a disability, please discuss this with me and contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at (714) 484-7104 or email dss-students@cypresscollege.edu.”

Example #2:  “Cypress College is committed to equitable access to educational opportunity. Students with disabilities who may need an accommodation to fully participate in this class should contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at (714) 484-7104 or dss-students@cypresscollege.edu. I look forward to working together with you and DSS.” 

Teaching Students with Disabilities

Students bring a unique set of strengths and experiences to college, and students with disabilities are no exception. While many learn in different ways, their differences do not imply inferior capacities. There is no need to dilute curriculum or to reduce course requirements for the student with a disability. However, academic adjustments may be needed. Faculty will draw upon the student’s own prior learning experiences, using available college and department resources, and will collaborate with Disability Support Services (DSS).

Specific suggestions for teaching students with disabilities can be discussed with the DSS staff; however, the following general considerations may be helpful.

1. Identifying the Student with a Disability

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

Other students may have hidden disabilities, such as hearing loss, low vision or blindness, cardiac conditions, learning disabilities, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, or mental health disabilities, all of which are usually not apparent.

Finally, there are students with multiple disabilities, which are caused by such primary conditions as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. Depending on the nature and progression of the illness or injury, it may be accompanied by a secondary disability in mobility, vision, speech, or coordination which may, in fact, pose greater difficulties.

Some students with disabilities will identify themselves as such by contacting the DSS office and their instructors before or early in the semester. Others may not contact instructors and DSS as early. Such students, in the absence of instructional adjustment, may run into problems in their college work. In a panic, they may self-identify just before an examination and expect instant attention to their needs.

The faculty member should make an announcement at the beginning of the semester and include a statement on the syllabus inviting students with disabilities to register with DSS. 

2. Dividing the Responsibilities

To the extent manageable, students with disabilities bear the primary responsibility, not only for identifying their disabilities, but for making necessary adjustments to the learning environment for reading and taking notes, for example. For testing arrangements and the use of department resources, the cooperation of the faculty member is vital.

3. Faculty-Student Relationships

Dialogue between the student and instructor is essential early in the semester, and follow-up meetings are recommended. Faculty should not feel apprehensive about discussing the student’s disability as it relates to the course. There is no reason to avoid using terms that refer to the disability, such as “blind,” and “see,” or “walk.” However, care should be taken to avoid generalizing a particular limitation to other aspects of a student’s functioning. The student’s own suggestions, based on experience with the disability and with school work, are invaluable in accommodating disabilities in college.

4. Attendance and Promptness

The student using a wheelchair or other assistive devices may encounter barriers in getting to class on time. Others may have periodic or irregular curtailments of functioning, either from their disability or from medication. Flexibility in applying attendance and promptness rules to such students would be helpful.

5. Classroom Adjustments

A wide range of students with disabilities may be served in the classroom by making book lists available prior to the beginning of the term, by thoughtful seating arrangements, by speaking directly toward the class, and by writing key lecture points and assignments on the white board.

6. Functional Problems

In addition to the adjustments for each category of disability, some understanding is required in coping with more subtle and sometimes unexpected manifestations of disability. Chronic weakness and fatigue characterize some disabilities and medical conditions. Drowsiness, fatigue or memory challenges may result from prescribed medications. Such curtailments of functioning and interference with the student’s ability to perform should be distinguished from the apathetic behavior it may resemble.

7. Note-Taking

Students who cannot take notes or experience difficulty taking notes adequately would be helped by allowing them to audio record the lectures, by assisting them in borrowing classmates’ notes, or by making an outline of lecture materials available to them.

8. Testing and Evaluation

Depending on the disability, the student may require the administration of examinations orally, the use of readers and/or scribes, extension of time for exams, a modification of the test formats or, in some cases, make-up or take-home exams. The objective of such special considerations should always be to accommodate the student’s learning differences, not to water down academic standards. The same standards should be applied to students with disabilities as to all other students in evaluation and assigning grades.

Specific Disabilities

Practical suggestions on how to work with students with disabilities, possible accommodations, and definitions of the disabilities:

Blind and Low Vision

Only a small minority of people are actually totally blind; most are considered “legally blind.” Even with correction, a legally-blind person’s best eye sees less at 20 feet than a typical eye sees at 200 feet. Difficulties experienced by many individuals with visual disabilities may include: recurring eye strain while reading, inability to read standardized print, inability to read poor quality print or certain colors of print, and sensitivity to bright light. Students who have been blind since birth, or shortly after, have no visual memories. Their concept of objects, space, and distance may be different from those who became blind later in life. Mobility skills of individuals may vary also, depending on the age of onset of blindness and the quality and extent of mobility training. Some students who are blind will use Braille with competence, but many do not use it. Most students with visual disabilities can acquire information through listening. Some students who are blind are competent typists, but their written communication and spelling skills sometimes reflect their natural dependency on audio transmission of information.


According to Title 5 regulations, blindness and low vision is defined as a level of vision that limits the student’s ability to access the educational process.


  • Treat the students with visual disabilities very much like you would any other student. Use words like “see” without being self-conscious.
  • If you are in a room alone with a blind person, explain what you are doing, such as shuffling papers. Tell the student when someone comes in the room or when you leave the room.
  • It is never impolite to ask if a student with a visual disability needs or would like assistance.
  • When using visual aids in the class, be as descriptive as possible. Words like “this” or “that” can be confusing.
  • A student may use a service dog. These dogs have been trained to guide people who are blind, to keep out of the way, and to be quiet. These working dogs should not be treated as pets and should not be petted while working.
  • When relocation of a class is necessary, a note on the board or door is not adequate. It would be helpful to have a sighted student wait for the student with a visual disability to arrive.

Possible Accommodations and Adjustments

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)

More individuals in the United States have a hearing loss than any other type of physical disability. Hard of hearing is any type of auditory impairment while deafness is an inability to use hearing as a means of communication. Hearing loss is measured in decibels and may be mild, moderate, or profound. A person who is born with a hearing loss may have language deficiencies and exhibit poor vocabulary and syntax.


Deafness or Hard of Hearing means either total deafness or a hearing loss so severe that student is limited in processing information through hearing, with or without amplification or other technology.

  • Hard of Hearing means a functional loss in hearing which is still capable of serving as a major channel for information processing.
  • Deaf means a total or partial loss of hearing function so severe that it no longer serves as a major channel for information processing. For purposes of this definition, deafness is defined as a condition that requires the use of communication in a mode other than oral language including sign language, real-time captioning or other visual or tactile means


Lighting is very important when communicating with a deaf or hard of hearing person. Do not stand in front of a window or bright light when talking. Try to talk where there is adequate, well distributed light. Be sure to face them when talking. Speak slowly and do not over exaggerate your lip movements. Keep your hands away from your face. Facial activities such as cigarette smoking, vigorous gum chewing, or biting your lips prevent clear communication. Using facial expressions, gestures, and other “body language” is helpful in conveying your message. Be aware that individuals who can hear make the best lip readers, (also called “speech readers”). Of individuals who had extensive training in lip reading, hard-of-hearing students can understand up to 50 percent of speech, and deaf students can understand only up to 25 percent. It takes a great deal of concentration to lip read.

If you see a student with a hearing aid, this does not mean that the student can understand verbal language. The student may require an alternative form of communication, (i.e., an interpreter, note taker, or use of other hearing aid devices.) When using an interpreter to communicate with a student, address the student directly saying “How are you today?” Many students who are hard-of-hearing do not hear tone of voice, therefore, some expressions, such as sarcastic statements, might be misleading if taken literally. Try to avoid giving misleading information this way. Also, try to avoid using idioms or colloquial expressions.


A student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing depends on visual cues to supplement what they do not hear. Seating is an important consideration. The student will need to be near the front so that the view is not obstructed. If a student has a unilateral hearing loss, they should be seated so that maximum use of the hearing ear is permitted.


Because of the time lag between the spoken word and the interpretation, the student’s contribution to the lecture or discussion may be slightly delayed. Students may have some speech and/or language difficulties. Although this does not affect a student’s ability to learn new information, some difficulty in the acquisition of new vocabulary may lead to reluctance to participate in class. Assumptions should not automatically be made about the student’s ability to participate in certain types of classes. For example, students may be able to learn a great deal about music styles, techniques, and rhythms by observing a visual display of the music on an oscilloscope or similar apparatus or by feeling the vibrations of music.


Most students will be able to take tests and evaluations in the same way as other students. Some may need additional time in order to gain a full understanding of the test questions. It has been found that if the test is written, some students do better if an interpreter reads and translates the questions to the student in sign language. However, many other students prefer to read tests themselves. If the method of evaluation is oral, the interpreter can serve as the reverse interpreter for the student. Avoid oral administered exams requiring written answers.

The primary form of communication with the deaf community is sign language. In view of this, many persons who are deaf or have profound hearing loss since birth or an early age have not mastered the grammatical subtleties of their “second language” English. This does not mean that instructors should overlook errors in written (or spoken) work. However, they should know that this difficulty with English is not related to intelligence but is similar to that experienced by students whose native language is other than English.


Some students will attend classes with a sign language interpreter. The interpreters will usually situate themselves in front of the class to interpret lectures and discussions. Interpretation will be easiest in lecture classes and more difficult in seminar or discussion classes. Because class formats are so varied, it is recommended that the professor, interpreter, and student arrange a conference early in the course to discuss any special arrangements that may be needed. Please be aware of the difficulties the student may have trying to watch a film and the interpreter at the same time.  Always ensure that films shown during class are captioned so that the student receives the same information as the rest of the class.  Additionally, an interpreter’s proficiency level decreases after 20 minutes. You can help make sure that the student is receiving clear and concise transmission by allowing breaks for any class over 50 minutes.

If you need to communicate directly with the interpreter, they will interpret your conversation into sign language for the student.

Note Takers

Because the student will need to watch the interpreter when you or anyone else is speaking, it will be necessary to select a note taker. Your help in doing this will be very much appreciated.

Possible Accommodations

Learning Disabilities (LD)

Learning disabilities affect the manner in which individuals with average or above average intelligence receive, process, retain and/or express information. A learning disability is NOT to be confused with generalized low ability. Learning disabilities are invisible but may affect a student’s performance in reading, writing, spoken language, mathematics, orientation in space and time and/or organization. The areas of difficulty will vary from one student to another.


According to the Title 5 regulations which govern the California Community Colleges, the definition of a learning disability is as follows:

Learning disability is defined as a persistent condition of presumed neurological dysfunction which may exist with other disabling conditions.  The dysfunction is not explained by lack of educational opportunity, lack of proficiency in the language of instruction, or other non-neurological factors, and this dysfunction limits the student’s ability to access the educational process.  To be categorized as a student with an LD, a student must meet the following criteria through psycho-educational assessment verified by a qualified specialist certified to assess learning disabilities. 

  • Average to above average intellectual ability; and
  • Statistically significant processing deficit(s); and/or
  • Statistically significant aptitude-achievement discrepancies.


Students with learning disabilities might exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Confusion of similar words, difficulty using phonics, problems reading multi-syllable words
  • Difficulty finding important points or main ideas
  • Slow reading rate and/or difficulty adjusting speed to the nature of the reading task
  • Difficulty with comprehension and retention of material that is read, but not with materials presented orally
  • Difficulty with sentence structure, poor grammar, omitted words
  • Frequent spelling errors, inconsistent spelling, letter reversals
  • Difficulty copying from chalkboard
  • Poorly formed handwriting – might print instead of using script; writes with an inconsistent slant; have difficulty with certain letters; space words unevenly.
  • Composition lacking organization and development of ideas
  • Difficulty paying attention when spoken to
  • Difficulty listening to a lecture and taking notes at the same time
  • Easily distracted by background noise or visual stimulation
  • Might appear to be hurried in one-to-one meetings
  • Inconsistent concentration
Oral Language
  • Difficulty expressing ideas orally which the student seems to understand
  • Difficulty describing events or stories in proper sequence
  • Difficulty with grammar
  • Using a similar sounding word in place of the appropriate one
  • Difficulty memorizing basic facts
  • Confusion or reversal of numbers, number sequences or symbols
  • Difficulty copying problems, aligning columns
  • Difficulty reading or comprehending word problems 
Study Skills
  • Problems with reasoning and abstract concepts
  • Exhibits an inability to stick to simple schedules, repeatedly forgets things, loses or leaves possessions, and generally seems “personally disorganized”
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Poor organization and time management 
Social Skills
  • Difficulty “reading” facial expressions, body language
  • Problems interpreting subtle messages, such as sarcasm or humor
  • Seems disorganized in space — confuses up and down, right and left; gets lost in a building, is disoriented when familiar environment is rearranged
  • Seems disoriented in time, i.e. is often late to class, unusually early for appointments or unable to finish assignments in the standard time period.
  • Displays excessive anxiety, anger, or depression because of the inability to cope with school or social situations


Detailed Syllabus Provide a detailed syllabus that includes course objectives, weekly topics, classroom activities, required reading and writing assignments, and dates of tests, quizzes, and vacations.

Rules Clarification Clarify rules in advance: how students will be graded, whether makeup tests or rewrites of papers are allowed, what the conditions are for withdrawing from a course or getting an incomplete. These should be included in the syllabus.

Reviews and Previews It is extremely helpful if the instructor briefly reviews the major points of the previous lecture or class and highlights main points to be covered that day. Try to present reviews and previews both visually and orally.

Study Aids Use study aids such as study questions for exams or pretests with immediate feedback before the final exam.

Multi-sensory Teaching Students with learning disabilities learn more readily if material is presented in as many modalities as possible (seeing, speaking, doing).

Visualization Help the student visualize the material. Visual aids can include films, whiteboards, flip charts, computer graphics, and illustrations of written text.

Color Use color. For instance, in teaching respiration technology, everything related to the body’s respiratory system might be highlighted in green and the digestive system in orange. In complex mathematical sequences, use color to follow transformations and to highlight relationships.

Tactility Provide opportunities for touching and handling materials that relate to ideas. Cutting and pasting parts of compositions to achieve logical plotting of thoughts is one possibility.

Announcements Whenever possible, announcements should be in oral and written form. This is especially important for changes in assignments or exams.

Distinct Speech Speaking at an even speed, emphasizing important points with pauses, gestures, and other body language, helps students follow classroom presentations. Avoid lecturing while facing the board.

Eye Contact This is important in maintaining attention and encouraging participation.

Demonstration and Role Play These activities can make ideas come alive and are particularly helpful to the student who has to move around in order to learn.

Other Tips

  • Emphasize new or technical vocabulary.
  • Allow time for students to work in small groups to practice, to solve problems, and to review work.
  • Break down teaching into small units. Short daily reading assignments will help the student with learning disabilities learn how to budget and organize study time. Build up to longer units.
  • Teach students memory tricks and acronyms as study aids. Use examples from current course work, and encourage students to create their own tricks.
  • Encourage students with learning disabilities to sit in front of the classroom.
  • Give feedback. Errors need to be corrected as quickly as possible.
  • Assist the student in teaming up with a classmate to obtain copies of notes.
  • Read aloud material on the board.
  • Remind students often of your availability during office hours for individual clarification of lectures, reading, and assignments.
  • Periodically offer tips and encourage class discussion of ways for improving studying such as organizational ideas, outlining techniques, summarizing strategies, etc.
  • Permit use of a calculator when mathematical disability is severe.
  • Permit the use of a dictionary or spellchecker for essay exams.
  • In exam questions, avoid unnecessarily intricate sentence structure, double negative and questions embedded within questions.
  • Provide additional scratch paper for exams to help students with overly large or poor handwriting.
  • Encourage students to dictate best ideas into a recorder before writing a report.

Possible Accommodations

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

It is estimated that 50,000 people per year suffer a head injury severe enough to keep them from returning to their pre-injury level of functioning. College age students are in a high-risk age group for this type of injury; two-thirds of all head injury cases occur among persons aged 15-24. Some students with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) have physical challenges that will require accommodations. Many do not, so their disability may not be readily apparent and some may be reluctant to reveal it to you. Many of these individuals have been through extensive rehabilitation; they are proud of the progress they have made and want to be self-sufficient. At the same time, they often are painfully aware that they do not learn as easily as they did before their injury, and this can cause great frustration.

Among the cognitive deficits persons with head injuries may experience are difficulties with concentration, memory, problem solving, and abstract reasoning. In our experience at Cypress College, the problem students mention most is memory. You may find that such students do well on test items that require them to recognize answers (multiple choice, matching) but do poorly on items requiring total recall (fill in the blank, essay)


According to Title 5, Acquired Brain Injury is defined as a deficit in brain functioning which results in a total or partial loss of cognitive, communicative, motor, psycho-social and/or sensory-perceptual abilities, and limits the student’s ability to access the educational process. 

Students with ABI may demonstrate one or more characteristics and the form may be mild, moderate, or severe:

  • Difficulty organizing thoughts, cause-effect relationships, and problem solving
  • Difficulty processing information and word retrieving
  • Difficulty generalizing and integrating skills
  • Difficulty interacting with others
  • Compensating for memory loss
  • Needing established routines with step-by-step directions
  • Needing repetition or some type of reinforcement of information to be learned
  • Demonstrating poor judgment and memory problems
  • Exhibiting discrepancies in abilities such as reading comprehension at a much lower level than spelling ability
  • Having difficulty with projection and clarity in voice

Possible Accommodations

Intellectual Disability (ID)

Students with Intellectual Disabilities represent a range of students who experience from mildly to severely delayed intellectual functioning. As a result, the student’s general ability must be verified, and the related educational limitations of the students’ disability must be identified. Once a determination is made, the certificated staff member may recommend services on or off campus which will enhance the students’ goal attainment.


According to the Title 5 regulations which govern the California Community Colleges, the definition is as follows:

Intellectual disability (ID) is defined as significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior that affect and limit the student’s ability to access the educational process.  An individual may have an intellectual disability when:

  1. The person’s functioning level is below average intellectual ability; and
  2. The person has significant limitations in adaptive skill areas as expressed in conceptual, social, academic and practical skills in independent living and employment; and,
  3. The disability originated before the age of 18.

Possible Accommodations

Mental Health Disability

In the past several years the community colleges have seen more students who have a history of a mental health disabilities.  While the vast majority of these students are stable and show no symptoms, others may have fluctuations in behavior and performance. Some may experience medication side effects or develop problems at college because they have ceased taking their medication or take their medications inconsistently. Other students may be experiencing emotional difficulties for the first time. It is important to remember that these students have as little control over their disabilities as do students with physical disabilities.

As is the case of students with other invisible disabilities, students with mental health disabilities are often hesitant to disclose their disability. They may go to great lengths to hide their difficulty due to fear of the stigma that often comes with disclosure. It has been the experience of the DSS staff that most students with mental health disabilities are not disruptive. Usually students with this type of disability who self-identify with DSS have been in therapy or are under medical treatment.


According to Title 5, mental health disability is defined as a persistent psychological or psychiatric disability, or emotional or mental illness that limits the student’s ability to access the educational process. 

A mental health disability must be verified by an appropriately licensed or certified professional (licensed psychologist or psychiatrist), and the accommodations for the students with mental health disabilities must adhere to disability-related support services defined in Title 5 regulations.

Characteristics might include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty tolerating stress
  • Episodes of lower level academic performance

Possible Accommodations

 Autism Spectrum

Autism Spectrum Disorders are defined as neurodevelopmental disorders described as persistent deficits which limit the student’s ability to access the educational process.  Symptoms must have been present in the early developmental period, and cause limitations in social, academic, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

As specified in Title 5 — Autism Spectrum Disorders are characterized by significant limitations and may include, but not be limited to any of the following:

Limitations in social-emotional reciprocity (e.g. unconventional social approach; failure of typical back-and-forth conversation; reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; difficult to initiate or respond to social interactions);

Limitations in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interactions (e.g. atypical verbal and nonverbal communication; lack of eye contact and body language; challenges understanding and use of gestures; lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication);

Limitations in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships (e.g. difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; difficulties in making friends; absence in interest in peers);

Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g. self-stimulation);

Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, ritualized patterns, or verbal nonverbal behavior (e.g. extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route every day, need to eat the same food every day);

Highly restricted, fixated interests with intensity or focus (e.g. strong attachment to or preoccupation with objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interest);

Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement). 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurological condition characterized by challenges with attention, focusing and persistence and often, but not always, hyperactivity.


Students with ADHD may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

Classroom Skills

  • Difficulty paying attention when spoken to; inconsistent concentration.
  • Difficulty listening to a lecture and taking notes at the same time.
  • Easily distracted by background noise or visual stimulation, may appear to be hurried in one-to-one meetings.
  • Difficulty memorizing basic facts.

Study Skills

  • Difficulty reading or comprehending word problems.
  • Compositions lack organization and development of ideas.
  • Trouble sustaining attention. Restless, fidgety. Lacks attention to details.
  • Forgets things, loses or leaves positions. Difficulty following instructions.
  • Impatient and easily frustrated. For many students the harder they try the worse their symptoms become.

Social Skills

  • Easily overwhelmed by tasks of daily living. Poor organization and time management.
  • Difficulty completing projects. Inconsistent work performance.
  • Trouble maintaining an organized work area.
  • Makes decisions impulsively. Difficulty delaying gratification, stimulation seeking.
  • Makes comments without considering their impact.

Many of the suggestions for students with Learning Disabilities are applicable to students with ADHD.

Possible Accommodations

Physical Disability

A variety of orthopedic/mobility related disabilities result from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuro-muscular diseases. These disabilities include conditions such as spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, muscular dystrophy, cardiac conditions, cystic fibrosis, paralysis, polio/post-polio and stroke. Functional limitations and abilities vary widely even within one group of disabilities. Physical disabilities include students using wheelchairs, crutches, braces, walkers, or canes; however, not all students with physical disabilities require mobility aids.


Physical disability is defined as a limitation in locomotion or motor functions.  These limitations are the result of specific impacts to the body’s muscular-skeletal or nervous systems, and limit the student’s ability to access the educational process.


If it seems that a student may have to miss a special meeting, conference with you, or other such event because of an inaccessible location, please move your conference or meeting to an accessible location.

Lateness and Absences

Students with physical disabilities may also require more time to get to and from classes because the accessible travel routes are sometimes round about; they are dependent on the elevators being in operating order, and they have more difficulty making up for time lost when an earlier class is held overtime. Other reasons for these students occasionally being late are waiting for assistance in opening doors, and maneuvering along crowded paths and corridors. If a student who uses a wheelchair or has another mobility related disability is frequently late, it is, of course, appropriate to discuss the situation with the student and seek solutions. Most students will schedule their classes with ample time between them; however, this is not always possible. Students who rely on attendant care or mobility assistance may sometimes experience disruption in their schedules that are beyond their control.

Some students are susceptible to physical problems which can require them to be absent during a prolonged course of medical treatment. If this occurs, understanding is appreciated. The student is responsible for notifying their instructor of the situation.

Field Trips

If a class involves field work or field trips, ask the student to participate in the selection of sites and modes of transportation. Many students who use wheelchairs may be able to transfer to automobiles and to furniture. Some who use wheelchairs can walk with the aid of canes, braces, crutches, or walkers. Special arrangements will have to be made for field trips when students have difficulty transferring from wheelchair to other vehicles.

Classroom Considerations

While classrooms and labs should already be accessible, some may still require modification of the work station. Considerations include under counter knee clearance, working counter top height, horizontal working reach, and aisle widths. Working directly with the student may be the best way to provide modifications to the work station. Those students, who may not be able to participate in a laboratory class without the assistance of an aide, should be allowed to benefit from the actual lab work to the fullest extent. The student can give all instructions to an aide from what chemical to add to what type of test tube to use to where to dispose of used chemicals. The student will learn everything except the physical manipulation of the chemicals.

Classes in kinesiology can almost always be modified so that the student in a wheelchair can participate. Classmates are usually more than willing to assist, if necessary. Most students who use wheelchairs do not get enough physical exercise in daily activity, so it is particularly important that they be encouraged, as well as provided with the opportunity, to participate.

Other Tips

  • Most students who use wheelchairs will ask for assistance if they need it. Do not assume automatically that assistance is required. Offer assistance if you wish, but do not insist, and be willing to accept a “No, thank you.” graciously.
  • A wheelchair is part of the person’s body space. Do not automatically lean on the chair; it is similar to hanging or leaning on the person.
  • When talking to a student in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, sit down if possible.

Possible Accommodations

Other Health Conditions and Disabilities

This category includes all students with disabilities with other health conditions, and/or disabilities that affect a major life activity and which limits the student’s ability to access the educational process.  Some other disabilities are:

Cardiac Disorders

Additional considerations are generally not needed for students with cardiac disorders except when the course requirements involve an unusual amount of physical activity or if medical complications arise that cause them to miss class.


Students with diabetes generally require no classroom accommodations. Occasionally they may need to snack during class. Students generally schedule time to eat before strenuous physical activity. Problems such as diabetic coma and insulin shock may occur when there is an imbalance of insulin, food, and energy expenditure.

If a student seems dazed, confused, or is unresponsive, please call the Campus Safety to assist the student. These may be a sign of diabetic shock.

Multiple Sclerosis and Muscular Dystrophy

Although these symptoms are sometimes invisible they may affect the student in a multitude of ways. The symptoms have a tendency to come and go, but they continue to progress. Understanding the fluctuations that may occur in the student’s behavior makes it easier to understand variations in classroom performance.

Speech Disabilities

Speech disabilities range from problems with articulation or voice strength to being totally non-vocal. They include stuttering (repetition, blocks, and/or prolongations occasionally accompanied by distorted movements and facial expressions) chronic hoarseness (dysphonia), difficulty in evoking an appropriate word or term (nominal aphasia), and esophageal speech (resulting from a laryngectomy). Many students with speech disabilities will be hesitant about participating in activities that require speaking.

Suggestions for Dealing with Disruptive Behavior

  • If inappropriate behavior occurs, discuss it with the student privately and directly, delineating, if necessary, the limits of the College Standards of Student Conduct. 
  • In your discussions with the student, do not attempt to diagnose or treat the disability.  Rather, address the behavior and explain the boundaries for the student’s behavior in your classroom.
  • If you sense that discussion would not be effective or if the student approaches you for therapeutic help, refer the student to the Student Health Center.
  • If abusive or threatening behavior occurs, refer the matter to the appropriate disciplinary college authorities.

Academic Adjustments/Accommodations and Services

After a thorough review of the disability verification information submitted by the student and through consultation with the student, DSS professionals recommend and prescribe services and academic accommodations that are appropriate for the individual student’s disability-based educational limitations.   

If the student gives you, the instructor, a disability verification directly, you should ask the student to go to DSS to meet with a counselor.  Instructors are not expected to evaluate disability documentation. 

Students who are registered with DSS and require academic adjustments must request these accommodations through the DSS student portal.  Instructors will receive an automated email with a copy of their student’s Accommodations and Services Agreement” (ASA) form.  This accommodations form will list all of the appropriate accommodations for which the student is eligible and should be provided. If there are any questions or concerns, always contact DSS immediately at (714) 484-7104.

Visit the Accommodations and Services webpage for detailed information about academic adjustments, accommodations, and services.

Accommodations requiring little or no involvement by the instructor

Audio Recorder:  Audio recording class lectures and discussions may be a necessary accommodation for some students.  If DSS approves the use of an audio recorder for a student, faculty must allow it.  Recorders are specifically mentioned in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as a means of providing full participation in educational programs and activities.  As a general rule, any classroom material on which a student typically would take notes may be recorded.  Occasionally, classroom discussion reveals items of a personal nature about students.  If open discussions tend to reveal personal information, it would be appropriate to ask the student with a disability to turn off the audio recorder during these discussions.

Preferred Seating:  A student with a physical disability who cannot use the standard classroom desks may need to use a chair designated for that individual.  The instructor’s role may be simply to assist the student in reserving the chair.

Accommodations requiring the instructor to be minimally involved

Note-Taking Assistance:  Students who cannot take notes or have difficulty taking notes adequately, would benefit from audio recording lectures, instructor notes/slides, note taking apps, a SmartPen or notes from a volunteer in class. If a volunteer note-taker is requested, then instructors will make an announcement that a note-taker is needed without mentioning the DSS student’s name. Student interested in sharing their notes will apply to be a note-taker through the DSS student portal (Charger Access Portal) found on the DSS website. Once they have been connected with the DSS student through the portal, they will upload their notes to the portal after every class meeting. The DSS student will access the notes through their student portal. The volunteer note taker will receive a bookstore gift card in the amount of $60 for providing notes for 9-16 weeks OR $30 for 1-8 weeks. To be eligible for the gift card, the volunteer must register as a note-taker through the Charger Access Portal. The gift cards will be issued at the end of the semester.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALD):  Some students with hearing loss use assistive listening devices to amplify and transmit sound. The instructor may be asked to wear a transmitter or microphone which transmits sound directly to a receiver worn by the student. Faculty may also need to restate questions or comments that are made by other students so that this information is transmitted to the student with the hearing loss.

Interpreter:  Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may use sign language interpreters who translate the lecture and facilitate classroom participation and discussion. The instructor should speak directly to the person who is deaf or hard of hearing rather than to the interpreter. 

Remote Transcription Services:  Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) may require real-time transcription during each class meeting.  The real-time transcriptionist transcribes lectures from audio to written form using dictation software.  The DHH student will use an iPad or laptop with a microphone in which the transcriptionist will access course lectures and discussions remotely and live so that the student can access instruction and participate in classroom discussion.

Extended Test Time:  When a recommended accommodation is additional time on tests, instructors should provide the student with the DSS-recommended amount of test time or request that DSS provide the accommodation. 

Accommodations requiring more significant involvement by the instructor

Extended Test Time in Distraction-Reduced Environment:  Some students require extra test time AND a semi-quiet place to take exams.  When this accommodation is needed, DSS will provide the accommodations for the student. Because DSS has VERY limited space with limited staffing, adequate time must be given to arrange for an appropriate proctor/scribe/reader and/or to produce the test in an alternate text format, such as enlarged text.  It is the student’s responsibility to inform the DSS office no less than three days in advance (5 days for exams requiring an alternate text format) of the need for accommodations on a specific exam.  DSS requests that instructors deliver the exam prior to the student’s schedule test appointment in the DSS office.  Instructors should upload their exams through their faculty DSS portal. The faculty portal may be access via the DSS website. Exams may also be hand-delivered to the DSS office in CCCPLX-100. 

DSS maintains strict test security standards.  Each test, when completed, is delivered by a DSS staff or student member, as per the instructor’s written request.

When utilizing DSS test-taking services, students must arrive on time for the test.  Based on DSS staffing and space considerations, the number of minutes the student is late may be deducted from the extended time scheduled.  Without permission from the instructor, DSS will NOT reschedule a cancelled test for a student.

Students taking exams under DSS supervision are expected to act in accordance with the Cypress College standards of student conduct.  In cases where conduct appears to be in violation (such as “cheating”), DSS will write up an incident report and route it to the Dean of Counseling and Student Development.  DSS will report any and all incidents in which academic integrity may have been compromised to the instructor for resolution.

Alternative formatted exam:  In some circumstances an alternative testing method may be an approved accommodation for a student.  This permits students to show their knowledge or mastery of the subject matter by using an alternative testing method.  This may be a necessary accommodation provided that the change in method does not fundamentally alter the intent of the education program. For example, permitting an oral exam in lieu of a written exam may be permissible unless the purpose of the exam is also to test the writing ability of the student. Likewise, permitting an essay exam in lieu of a multiple-choice exam or vice versa may be acceptable in some situations. The goal is to ensure evaluation of the student’s achievement in the course, rather than measuring the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills.

Some disabilities make it very difficult to accurately fill out a Scantron or other computer-scored answer sheet. On a multiple-choice exam an instructor may need to permit a student to circle answers on the test document. The instructor may need to hand score the exam. Other examples include permitting a student to speak answers into an audio recorder or to a scribe or to keyboard on a computer.

Provide Technical Vocab:  Technical vocabulary may be unfamiliar to students and an interpreter. Preparing a list of such terms will help students and interpreters. Sometimes it is necessary for interpreters to practice signing vocabulary words during the week before class in order to keep up with the lecture.

Alternative Due Dates on Assignments: This adjustment may be reasonable in certain situations because a student’s medical or health circumstances pose challenges with completing assignments by deadlines. If a student has a disability with random or cyclical acute episodes and/or causes hospitalizations, the adjustment allows for flexibility in assignment deadlines and when the episode interferes with the student’s ability to complete the work in the expected timeframe. This accommodation does not entitle the student to submit all assignments after deadlines, nor does it apply in the case of student study skills or time management issues or work overload. The accommodation is only applicable when a student experiences a medical or health challenge as it relates to the disability verification on file in DSS. If a student’s absences and extensions become excessive, the student will be advised on their ability to pass the course, based on the instructor’s professional judgement. The student will inform their instructor prior to an assignment due date, or as soon as possible thereafter, when requesting an adjustment.  The student will arrange with their instructor the deadline parameters. Assignments cannot be submitted whenever desired. For example, a deadline parameter might state that “the assignment extended due date is not to exceed two instructional days.” For more information about this accommodation, visit the Student Guide and select “Alternative Due Dates on Assignments.

Closed Captioning of Videos and DVDs is Required

Both state and federal law requires all educational materials be accurately captioned regardless of the presence of a deaf or hard hearing individual(s).  Creating a video library that is accessible ensures you are able to accommodate any student from the first day of instruction.  Review your media material in advance to ensure it meets the above requirements.  If the material is not captioned accurately, it cannot be shown in class nor posted on any student supplemental material forum.  NOTE:  Even though a video displays the “CC” option, often the captions are created with Auto-Captioning” software.  Auto-Captioning is notorious for inaccuracies.  Please click on the “CC” option and choose materials that offer “Captions” only.

The use of a transcript or an interpreter/CART provider is not a substitute for access to video content.  Please do not ask the interpreter/CART provider to do so.  The attempt at interpreting or live captioning a video creates further confusion on the part of the student. 

  1. All videos or DVDs used in your classroom as well as any new DVDs purchased for classroom use must contain closed captioning.
  2. Inquire whether your videos are captioned by looking at the video/DVD container which usually includes a statement about captioning or carries the initials “CC”.

If you need more information about closed-captioning, please contact DSS.

Facilitating Classroom Accommodations

For more information about the procedures and details of specific accommodations, please visit the Services and Accommodations webpage.

Classroom Adjustments/Accommodations

AccommodationDescription  Professor ResponsibilityStudent Responsibility
Accessible FurnitureClassrooms should already have accessible furniture. Student will use the accessible furniture. At times, the furniture may need to be placed in the classroom by DSS and/or M&O.Allow student to use accessible furniture and restrict use of the furniture to the approved student.  If accessible furniture already exists in the classroom, the student does not need to request DSS furniture.  Please ensure the existing furniture is available for the student each class meeting.  Inform DSS of specific furniture needed, if the classroom is not already equipped. Delivery of accessible furniture may take several days.  Inform your professor if the furniture is not available when needed or if the furniture is removed or moved.
Alternate MediaAlternate media is course material (textbooks, handouts, tests, etc.) that are converted into a format accessible to a student with a print disability. Examples: audio books, Braille, e-text.  Provide information on class materials and the class syllabus upon request to allow timely conversion of the materials into the requested format. Materials provided in Word or PDF formats are preferred to paper copies.Submit a request for all alternate media using the Charger Access Student Portal. Purchase textbooks as far in advance as possible. Contact the professor to obtain the syllabus and list of required materials to turn in as soon as possible.
Alternative Due Dates on Assignments    Alternative due dates on assignments may be appropriate for students who experience random or cyclical acute health episodes or hospitalizations.Communicate with student to develop a plan to address this adjustment/accommodation as needed. Contact DSS with questions related to facilitation of this accommodation.   For detailed information about this accommodation, view Services and Accommodations and click on “Alternative Due Dates for Assignments.”Send accommodation letter to instructor. Communicate with instructor when experiencing a health challenge to discuss assignment and reasonable plan. Important: Assignments cannot be submitted whenever desired. Instructor must approve extended date. This accommodation does not entitle students to submit ALL assignments after deadlines. It applies ONLY during episodic or random health episodes.
Assistive Listening DeviceAssistive listening devices (ALDs) allow people who are hard of hearing to participate more fully in educational activities. They do this by increasing the volume of a desired sound, such as the voice of a Professor, without increasing the loudness of background noises.  Wear a microphone with a transmitter while teaching.Checks out ALD from the DHH Coordinator for the entire semester. Brings ALD to class. Gives the instructor the mic and transmitter each class session. Student will wear headphones and receiver.
Audio RecordingStudent will record lectures.Allow student to audio-record lecture.  Notify student if recording needs to stop due to sensitive lecture material or class discussion that is not appropriate to record.  You may generate audio-recording contract and require student to sign contract.Bring recorder to class and follow requirements of DSS.  Student agrees not to release information obtained in class as to not infringe on a potential copyright or to limit freedom of speech.  Student also agrees to use the auxiliary aid solely for the purpose of personal study.  Student understands that the recordings cannot be used as evidence in the case of student/faculty disputes.  Instructor may generate contract that must be signed.  
BreaksStudent will be permitted to take a short break(s) during lecture.Allow student to take a short break(s).  Notify student if breaks are considered disruptive or excessive.  Notify DSS if problems persist after speaking with the student.  Excuse yourself from class quietly and without disruption. Take only necessary breaks and return to class promptly.  Consider sitting near an exit.
Closed/Open Captioned MediaAll media, i.e. videos, used in class or online must include captioning.  Ensure all media includes captioning.Sit near the front of the classroom to see media presentation.
Electronic Note-TakingStudent will use electronic device, i.e. laptop, to take notes.Allow student to sit near electrical outlet, if needed, and to utilize electronic note-taking device, i.e. laptop.  Sit near an outlet, if needed, and near the front of the classroom to better hear lectures.
Enlargement of Class MaterialsStudent will receive enlarged copies of class materials.Communicate with student regarding enlargement needs.  Provide enlargement or contact DSS to make arrangements.  Enlargement should be completed prior to being distributed or used in class.Communicate enlargement needs to professor (e.g. font size, types of material needing enlargement, etc.).  Bring materials to DSS for enlargement if needed.  Provide DSS and professor with sufficient advance notice in order to ensure completion.  
Livescribe SmartpenStudent will use a Smartpen device to take notes.  A Smartpen digitizes the student’s handwriting and records audio that is synchronized with the handwritten notes.  Allow student to utilize the Livescribe Smartpen during class.Make sure the Smartpen is charged and you have Livescribe dot paper before each class meeting.  Sit near the front of the classroom to hear lecture.
Note Taker-Shared NotesStudent will receive notes from a classmate via the Charger Access Student Portal.  **The volunteer note taker will receive a bookstore gift card in the amount of $60 for providing notes for 9-16 weeks OR $30 for 1-8 weeks.  To be eligible for the gift card, the volunteer must apply to be the note taker via the Charger Access Student Portal prior to starting the assignment.  The gift cards will be issued at the end of the semester.**  **A note taker is eligible to receive a bookstore gift card.**  Assist student in locating a volunteer note taker by making an anonymous announcement of note taking need.  If you are not able to locate a note taker, you may supply the DSS student with a copy of your lecture notes until a note taker is secured.  Only one volunteer note taker is needed per class. The volunteer note-taker should register to be a note-taker through the Charger Access Student Portal on the DSS website. All notes will be uploaded to the portal so that the DSS student may download them.**A note taker is eligible to receive a bookstore gift card. If you have not identified a classmate to provide a copy of class notes, ask your instructor to make an anonymous announcement in class that a note taker is needed. Note-takers should register via the Charger Access Student Portal. They will upload their notes to the portal and DSS students will download them from their own student portal. Notify the professor if a problem develops with finding a note taker or with receiving appropriate notes. Inform DSS if problems are unresolved after speaking with the professor.
Personal Care Attendant/ Educational CoachA personal care attendant or educational coach are personal aides that either assist with self-care functions or address behavioral issues such as staying on task or following instructions.Allow student to sit in preferred location with their PCA/Ed CoachThe student must give timely notification to the DSS office if requesting a PCA/Ed coach. The student must complete and have approved the PCA/Ed coach form every semester with DSS before the PCA attends class.
Real Time Remote TranscriptionAn off-site transcriber will listen to the class lecture/discussion remotely.  The transcriber will type (nearly) verbatim what is said in the classroom by the instructor and students.  The transcript is streamed real-time to the student’s electronic device.  Allow the student to use the electronic device (i.e. laptop or iPad) and microphone (if needed) to receive the remote transcription services.  If you would like a copy of the notes/transcript emailed to you, please notify DSS.Bring to class the equipment needed to receive services.  Watch the transcription as needed to understand the class lecture/discussion.  Questions about the remote transcription services can be directed to the remote transcriber or DSS staff.  Keep transcript of class material confidential.
ScribeDSS will send a designated peer to the student’s class to write or manipulate class materials for them.  Allow scribe access to the classroom and provide appropriate arrangements (extra chair, etc).Dictate to the scribe exactly what to write and/or instruct the scribe on how to manipulate class materials.
Service AnimalA service dog will accompany the student to all classes, activities, campus events, etc.  A service dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the student.Ensure the space around the student’s desk is adequate to accommodate the service dog. Important: Students do not need to be registered with DSS to use a service dog.The student is responsible for the care and supervision of the service dog.  The service dog must be under the control of its handler.  The dog must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the student is unable to use it because of a disability.  The student is responsible for feeding the dog and taking care of its toileting needs.  
Sign Language InterpreterInterpreter will facilitate communication between the Deaf/Hard of Hearing student(s) and the instructor and other classmates.Upon request, aid the interpreter (ie. may need information repeated or spelled out). Copies of textbooks and/or handouts are greatly appreciated. Questions about the interpreting services can be directed to the student, the interpreter, or Sandra Garcia, DHH Services Coordinator.  Watch the interpreter as needed to understand the class lecture/discussion. Follow the requirements of the Contract for Interpreting Services. Student will contact DSS if there is a problem with the interpreter.

Testing Adjustments/Accommodations

AccommodationDescription  Professor ResponsibilityStudent Responsibility

Alternate Media
Alternate media is course material (textbooks, handouts, exams, etc.) that are converted into a format accessible to a student with a print disability.  Examples:  Braille, e-text, audio format.  Provide your class exam to DSS days ahead of time so DSS has time to convert the text to alternate media.Schedule your exams with DSS at least 5 school days before the scheduled test date.  When scheduling exams with DSS, make sure you request your exams be converted to alternate media.
Alternative ScantronStudent will use a format, other than scantron, to record the test answers.Allow student to record answers in a different format which compensates for the student’s disability.  Communicate with DSS to determine how you will record your test answers.
Assistive TechnologyStudent will have access to necessary inclusive technology (e.g. voice dictation software, enlarged computer screen, Kurzweil, etc).Permit student to take exam with DSS who will provide approved assistive technology.  Sign into the faculty portal (on DSS website) to complete the testing parameters and upload exams. Professors may hand deliver (CCCPLX 100 DSS Office) the tests as well.  Use assistive technology approved by DSS and schedule testing appointment at least 2-3 days before administration date.  When scheduling a testing appointment, you must inform DSS that specific assistive technology is needed.
BreaksThere are two types of exam breaks: 1) medical breaks and 2) disability breaks.   Medical breaks are reserved for those with certain medical/health conditions. Students authorized with medical breaks may exit the testing room to utilize this accommodation.   Disability breaks are for those with disabilities that may interfere with test performance such as emotional difficulty, physical pain, or fatigue. Students MAY NOT exit the testing room when utilizing this accommodation. They must remain in the DSS office or, for online exams (i.e. Zoom), they must remain in the Zoom room.   A student with an approved exam break (medical or disability) accommodation is allowed a 10-minute break for every 1.5 hours of test time.   If a student takes a test in DSS, DSS will handle the breaks. If the test is administered in class or online by the instructor, allow the accommodation.  This 10-minute break every 1.5 hours of the test is part of the accommodative test time.If necessary, remind professor or DSS of break.  When taking exam in DSS, students must remain in the DSS office during the break unless the student is authorized with a “medical break.”.
CalculatorStudent will have access to a basic four function calculator. Follow Math Dept/DSS Calculator Policy and permit student to take exam with DSS who will authorize an approved calculator.  Calculator Policy is available in DSS.  Obtain a basic four function calculator and schedule exam at least 3 days before administration date. 
Distraction Reduced EnvironmentStudent will take exam in a quieter location.Most students with this accommodation will take exams in the DSS office. Professors should complete the test taking electronic form via the faculty portal on the DSS website. Professors will also upload their exams through the portal. If professors prefer, they may make a mutually agreed upon arrangement with the student to administer the exam in a quieter location apart from DSS and apart from the classroom (e.g. professor office, private conference room, etc).  Inform the professor before each exam if a quieter location is needed.  Schedule testing appointment with DSS at least 3 days (or 5 days if an alternate format and/or a reader/scribe is required) before the exam is administered.
Enlarged Print ExamsStudent will received enlarged copies of exams.Communicate with student regarding enlargement needs.  Provide enlarged exams or contact DSS to make arrangements.  Enlargement should be completed prior to being distributed to class.  Communicate enlargement needs to professor (e.g. font size).  Provide DSS and professor with sufficient advanced notice in order to ensure completion.
Extra Time on ExamsStudent will receive extra time to complete exam when administered. Generally, this extra time is time and a half or double time.  This extra time applies to timed exams ONLY.  It does not apply to take-home exams.Typically, students will take their exams with extra time in the DSS office. Professors should complete the electronic test form via the faculty portal on the DSS website and upload the exam. If professors prefer, they may make a mutually agreed upon arrangement with the student to administer the exam themselves.Inform the professor before each exam if additional time is needed.  Be aware of your accommodative testing time and the DSS testing center closing time when scheduling testing appointments.  All tests must be completed fifteen minutes before closing time.
Medical BreaksStudent will be permitted to take one 10-minute restroom break during tests or quizzes.  The 10-minute restroom break is included in the allotted test time.If student takes test in DSS, DSS will handle the medical breaks.  If test is administered in class by instructor, allow the accommodation.  This 10-minute restroom break is included in the allotted test time.  If necessary, remind professor or DSS of break.  Medical breaks are authorized for restroom use only.
ReaderStudent will have a person assigned by DSS read exam to them.Permit the student to take exam with DSS who will provide the reader.   Schedule testing appointment at least 5 days before administration date.  When scheduling your testing appointment, you must inform DSS that a reader will be needed.
ScribeStudent will have a person assigned by DSS to write or manipulate exam materials for them.Permit student to take exam with DSS who will provide the scribe.  Dictate to the scribe exactly what to write and/or instruct the scribe on how to manipulate exam materials. Schedule testing appointment with DSS at least 5 days before administration date.  When scheduling a test appointment, you must inform DSS that a scribe will be needed.
Sign Language InterpreterWhen needed, the interpreter will read and interpret the exam for the student.Upon request, provide assistance to the interpreter. Questions about the interpreting services can be directed to the student, the interpreter, or Sandra Garcia, DHH Services Coordinator.Watch the interpreter as needed to understand the exam. Student will contact DSS if there is a problem with the interpreter.
Spell CheckerStudent will have access to a spell checking device or dictionary.Permit student to take exam with DSS.  Notify DSS if spell checker is considered inappropriate given course material.  Obtain spell checking device and schedule testing appointment at least 3 days before administration date.
Word ProcessorStudent will have access to a word processing program (e.g. MS Word).Permit student to take exam with DSS who will provide word processing program.  Notify DSS if word processing features are considered inappropriate given course material (e.g. grammar / spell checking).Use a word processing program provided by DSS and schedule testing appointment at least two days before administration date.

Syllabus Statements

Please include a DSS statement on your syllabus. Feel free to use one of the following.

Example #1:  “I have made every effort to make this course accessible to all students. If you encounter a problem accessing anything in this course or require an academic adjustment based on the impact of a disability, please discuss this with me and contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at (714) 484-7104 or email dss-students@cypresscollege.edu.”

Example #2:  “Cypress College is committed to equitable access to educational opportunity. Students with disabilities who may need an accommodation to fully participate in this class should contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at (714) 484-7104 or dss-students@cypresscollege.edu. I look forward to working together with you and DSS.” 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

According to Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D., University of Washington, DO-IT (www.washington.edu/doit), Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is used to develop course instruction, materials, and content so that students of all learning styles benefit without supplemental adaptation or retrofitting. UDL provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information. It allows the student to control the method of accessing information while the instructor monitors the learning process and initiates any beneficial methods.

Although this design enables the student to be self-sufficient, the instructor is responsible for imparting and assessing knowledge, and facilitating the learning process. It should be noted that UDL does not remove academic challenges; it removes barriers to access and increases success.

UDL is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized redesign. Making a product or a lesson accessible to people with disabilities often generates unanticipated benefits for others. For example, the captioning of course videos (which provides access to deaf students) is also a benefit to students for whom English is a second language, to some students with learning disabilities, and to anyone watching the video in a noisy environment. All students benefit from UDL Principles.

Designing web resources in accessible formats as they are developed means that no redevelopment may be necessary if a student with a disability enrolls in the class. Allowing all students access to your class notes and assignments on an accessible website can eliminate the need for providing material in alternate formats.

Employing UDL principles does not eliminate the need for specific accommodations for students with disabilities. For example, sign language interpreters are often needed in classroom settings for deaf and hard of hearing students. Nevertheless, the need for additional accommodations is minimized.


  • Identify the essential course content.
  • Clearly express the essential content along with any feedback given to the student.
  • Integrate natural supports for learning (i.e., using resources already found in the environment such as a study buddy).
  • Use a variety of instructional methods when presenting material.
  • Allow for multiple methods of demonstrating understanding of essential course content.
  • Use technology to increase (not decrease) accessibility.


  • Put course content online allowing students to “pick up” material missed in lecture.
  • Use peer mentoring, group discussion and cooperative learning situations rather than strictly lecturing.
  • Use guided notes to enable students to listen for essential concepts.
  • Provide a comprehensive syllabus with clearly identified course requirements, accommodation statement and due dates.
  • Vary instructional methods, provide illustrations, handouts, auditory, and visual aids.
  • Relate a new topic to one already learned or a real life example.
  • Allow the student to demonstrate knowledge of the subject through alternative means.
  • Permit and encourage the use of adaptive technology.
  • Develop study guides.
  • Have all handouts and text-based materials readily available in electronic format.
  • Instead of giving two (2) long exams in one semester, give more frequent shorter exams.

Helpful Hints

  • Make your visuals ready for delivery in alternate and/or accessible format.
  • All files (PowerPoint, Word, PDF, etc.) need to be in an accessible format.
  • Have handouts, tests, etc. available in electronic format ready to convert to alternate format in a timely fashion.
  • Use all available DSS resources to assist you in the provision of educational accommodations.
  • Have your textbook list available early so transcribing it into an alternate format can be performed in a timely fashion.

Faculty Rights

  • Classroom Behavior. All Cypress College students must adhere to the Cypress College conduct codes regardless of whether they have a disability. Infractions of this code should be directed to the Dean of Counseling and Student Development. If the student has been identified as a student with a disability, this information should be provided to the Dean of Counseling and Student Development to facilitate collaboration with DSS.
  • Challenging Accommodations. A faculty member has the right to challenge an accommodation request if they believe the accommodation is not appropriate for the class. If the accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration of the program, the institution is being asked to address a personal need, or the accommodation would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the institution then the college may deny a request for a specific accommodation.
  • Recording Lectures. It is the faculty member’s right to request permission from DSS before allowing the student to audio record the class.  The faculty member has the right to generate their own contract with the student (i.e. request the student erase the lecture material at the end of the semester, each week, etc.)

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Shared Responsibility. As an employee of Cypress College, which has compliance obligations under federal laws, the faculty member shares the responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. The faculty member is a partner in helping to meet the needs of the qualified student with disabilities and participates in the development of accommodations for their students.   It is the responsibility of faculty, with assistance of DSS staff, to allow the student to utilize academic accommodations and support services recommended by DSS.  Disallowing the accommodation or telling the student, “You don’t need this”, or “I don’t believe in learning disabilities”, is unlawful and puts the college and the district at risk of legal action.  If an instructor receives an Accommodations and Services Agreement (ASA) and doesn’t understand or disagrees with the accommodation, it is the instructor’s professional responsibility to contact DSS and possibly the department coordinator and/or academic dean to discuss the issue.
  • Confidentiality. Students with disabilities are protected under Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the civil rights laws. At no time should the faculty make any statements or implications that the student is any different from the general student population.


  • Do not ask the student to come to the classroom and then leave with a test in hand.
  • Do not place the student in any obvious place to take an exam because you want to be close to them in case they have a question.
  • Do not discuss the student’s needs or accommodations other than in a private place.
  • Do not make comparisons between students with disabilities and other students.
  • Syllabus Statement. It is recommended that each course syllabus contain a disability statement. Feel free to use one of these examples.

Example #1:  “I have made every effort to make this course accessible to all students. If you encounter a problem accessing anything in this course or require an academic adjustment based on the impact of a disability, please discuss this with me and contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at (714) 484-7104 or email dss-students@cypresscollege.edu.”

Example #2: “Cypress College is committed to equitable access to educational opportunity. Students with disabilities who may need an accommodation to fully participate in this class should contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at (714) 484-7104 or dss-students@cypresscollege.edu. I look forward to working together with you and DSS.” 

FAQs – Faculty

What is the function of the Disability Support Services (DSS)?

DSS assists the college in complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states that “no qualified individual with disabilities shall, on the basis of their disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subject to discrimination under any post-secondary program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

What are the obligations of students with disabilities?

In order to enjoy the protections of Section 504 and the ADA, students have an obligation to self-identify that they have a disability and need accommodation. The institution may require that the student provide appropriate documentation at the student expense in order to establish the disability and the need for accommodation.

How does DSS know whether a student is disabled?

According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, “A person with a disability includes any person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” The law recognizes education as being a major life activity.

Verification of a disability must be on file in order for DSS to provide services. Verification may be in letter format, on a form provided to the verifying professional, or made by qualified personnel in the DSS office. 

Who qualifies for DSS services?

A student with a disability is a person enrolled at a community college who has a verified disability which limits one or more major life activities and which imposes an educational limitation.

What is an educational limitation?

An educational limitation means disability related functional limitation in the educational setting. This occurs when the limitation prevents the student from fully benefiting from classes, activities, or services offered by the college to non-disabled students, without specific additional support services or instruction as defined in Section 56005.

What are support services?

Support services are those services available to students with disabilities, which are in addition to the regular services provided to all students. Such services enable students to participate in activities, programs and classes offered by the college. (E.g., note takers, readers, alternative testing).

How is one determined eligible for DSS?

In order to be eligible for support services as authorized by Title V and 504, a student with a disability must have a disability, which is verified by one of the following means:

  • Observation by DSS certificated staff; or
  • Assessment by appropriate DSS certificated staff; or
  • Certified or licensed professionals outside of DSS qualified to make a valid assessment.

How do students know what services they need?

After the student’s educational limitations have been identified by appropriate DSS professional staff or other qualified professional, the DSS counselor will meet with the student to complete an Academic Accommodations Plan (AAP), which identifies the appropriate services to accommodate the educational limitations.

Is a student’s disability information kept confidential?

All information is strictly confidential, and no written information is released without a student signing an informed consent. Accommodations are determined in consultation with the student and the DSS staff and must be appropriate to the student’s disability.

An instructor asks, when I have a student with a disability in my class, may I contact DSS for more information about the student’s disability?

Although DSS may not share the student’s specific disability diagnosis, they may provide information about the student’s disability-related symptoms as related to the student’s performance in class as long as the student has signed all the appropriate release forms.

Will the requested accommodations compromise the standards, goals, and objectives of my class?

Accommodations are an opportunity for the student to be evaluated on the student’s knowledge and performance in the class and not on the effects of the student’s disability. According to guidelines from the Department of Education, institutions of higher education must modify academic requirements that are discriminatory. Modification may include extending time for completing degree requirements, allowing course substitutions, and adapting the manner in which particular courses are conducted. Institutions are not required to compromise on requirements that are essential to the program or course of instruction, or that are directly related to licensing requirements.

Why do some students get more time on tests than others?

The request for additional time for the student to work on a test varies from student to student depending on the severity of the student’s disability and the limitation it poses.

If the student is already doing well in the class, why is it necessary to provide any accommodations?

Title 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 establish that students with disabilities must have equal opportunity. A student’s good performance in class, including finishing exams on time, does not support the argument that the student is being provided equal opportunity. The student may still require accommodations in order to have equal opportunity in the classroom.

What if I have questions about the request for accommodations or I disagree with it?

The instructor should contact the DSS staff member who works with the student.

What if I start the exam with the student in the class and then move the student to another location when the class ends?

Students with disabilities (as most other students) do not perform optimally when interrupted in their concentration on taking a test. Moving the student is not generally desirable and is discouraged and can be a violation of their right to accommodations and equal opportunity.

Should I accommodate a student without a request of accommodation from DSS?

Students often discuss their accommodation needs directly with the instructor; however, if you want a valid verification of disability provided by DSS, the student must be registered with the DSS office and have the necessary documentation of disability on file before an accommodation is provided. Student registration with DSS assures the instructor that student has a verified disability on file.

Are all students with disabilities registered with DSS?

No. Some students may not be registered with DSS (registration is voluntary); however, in order for DSS to serve the student with a verified disability, registration with DSS is necessary.

What should I do if a student presents a request for accommodation only a few hours before an examination?

A good-faith effort should be made to provide reasonable accommodations whenever they are requested. However, DSS advises students to request accommodations and provide their instructors with ASAs at least a few days prior to an exam or prior to requesting other accommodations. 

Are general education and/or major requirements ever waived or altered for students with disabilities?

Under the provisions of Title 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, institutions of higher learning must not exclude a qualified student with a disability from any course of study, and must not establish rules and policies that may adversely affect students with disabilities.

On a case-by-case basis, community colleges may find it necessary to modify requirements in order to accommodate the student’s disability. Modifications might include substitutions of courses or degree requirements.

NOTE: The DSS Office can be contacted at (714) 484-7104 for a consultation for additional information.