The following are commonly asked questions from faculty members within the campus community who work closely with students.

General Questions

The term reasonable accommodation is used by the ADA and the ADAAA for modifications made in the educational environment to help create an equal educational opportunity for an otherwise qualified student to fulfill course requirements. These academic adjustments, or accommodations, limit as much as possible the effects of the disability on their performance.

UCSB has granted the Disabled Students Program authority to interpret disability documentation and determine appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities. Reviews of documentation and services are conducted by a committee of specialists with expertise in their respective fields.

Students registered with DSP are required to submit requests for accommodations through our online system. You will receive a notification email from DSP when a student submits a request for your course. Students are advised to submit these requests to you at the beginning of the quarter. They are also advised to meet with you individually to discuss their needs and make arrangements for their exams.

Students that approach you outside of this format may not be registered with DSP. You may inform students that you need to have verification from DSP in order to provide an accommodation. Students may contact our office for more information.

If you receive an Instructor Letter, prepared by a specialist at Disabled Students Program, you can be assured that the student has provided the University with proof of a disability under the legal definition of the word. The student will only be allowed to request accommodations which have been deemed appropriate given the nature of the specific disability and its impact on the student. A student who makes a claim to you regarding disability but has not submitted an instructor letter can be referred to Disabled Students Program to begin the application process to our program.

You will receive an email when a student submits an electronic Instructor Letter. You should log in to our online system to review the letter. This letter serves to inform you of the accommodation(s) this student requires, and it may include accommodations that necessitate an interactive process with DSP or some preparation on your part.

Refuse to read or accept the documentation and refer the student to Disabled Students Program. The student will need to present their documentation to the DSP specialists for committee review who will consider if the student’s condition rises to the level of disability.

No. Students will often request accommodations from their professor, and may not want to officially register with DSP, and still request assistance from you. You are not obligated to provide an accommodation to a student that is not registered with our program. You also cannot schedule an exam accommodation due to confidentiality reasons.

No. If the existence of the disability has been verified, the accommodation should provide an equal opportunity to the student, in effect starting the student on equal footing with others. To compromise standards or "water down" the requirements would not assist the student in acquiring a competitive degree. The student with a disability should fulfill all of the essential course-related requirements; however, altering the font, substituting an equivalent requirement, or changing the method of meeting requirements may serve to provide the student equal access to their education.

It may appear that preferential treatment is being given to students with disabilities; however, the objective of the legal requirement is to help mitigate a learning or life function that is not comparable to other students in the class due to a documented disability. Through the accommodation, we attempt to provide the student with the same opportunity that other class members are afforded. The law allows, and in fact requires, that these protections are afforded.

Accommodations based on a disability are intended to "level the playing field" (by removing barriers to learning and demonstration of knowledge) between students with disabilities and students without diagnosed disabilities. If a faculty member believes a specific accommodation will fundamentally alter the essential components of the course, the faculty member should contact Disabled Students Program to discuss the specific nature of the accommodation's impact on the course.

Refusal to provide students with accommodations poses a legal risk to the campus at large, the department, and the individual faculty. The student can take legal action to seek remedy for their lack of access. The university, department, and faculty member may be named in any suits. The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights is charged with investigating claims of discrimination under ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Faculty are welcome to review OCR here.

That students feign disabilities in order to receive special consideration is a common myth. No student who truly understands the nature of a disability would want to “fake” having one. If you have any reason to question whether or not a student has a disability, please contact Disabled Students Program. The student must have documentation on file to verify that they are impacted by a disability in order to secure services.

No. It is possible that a student with a disability has chosen not to register with the Disabled Students Program, or they may not have met the eligibility criteria for services or are electing to forgo accommodations for other reasons. In either instance, faculty members do not need to provide accommodations for those students.

No. The student with a disability should be held to the same conduct standards as any other student within your class. If you feel the disruption is a direct result of the specific disability or have questions, please contact us or refer to the Distressed Students Protocol to address your concerns.

For further information you may refer to the following sites for university guidelines on student conduct:

Exam Accommodations

The Testing Center staff will take this into account when appropriating the exam environment for that student. If you have any concerns about the exam location, you may reach out to

You can call the Testing Center Coordinator at 805-893-6041.

Please contact DSP if this happens. According to ADA guidelines, every attempt must be made to accommodate a student with disabilities. DSP will work with you to attempt to accommodate the student. However, this does not guarantee that the student will be accommodated.

Retroactive exam accommodations are not provided by DSP. If a student has arranged for an accommodation and then does not take the exam, the student needs to contact you to discuss the consequences.

Any announcements made during an exam, to the class at large, must be communicated to DSP students as well. If students testing in the classroom are allowed to ask clarification questions during an exam, then the faculty and/or a TA must be available for consult with DSP students testing at the Testing Center. Oftentimes DSP students find it necessary to be able to ask questions during the exam, therefore faculty should plan on providing the Testing Center with a preferred contact method.

A Modified Exam Format is a type of accommodation that may require you to alter the format of your exam. For example, a student may need their exams (and class handouts) in Braille, or on a specific color paper and font size.

Modified Exam Formats may require explanation from a DSP Specialist. For example, there may be a student that needs to be able to eat a snack during the exam, have a place to stretch, or have access to a restroom during the exam due to a physical condition. The specific modification(s) will be listed beneath the Modified Exam Format accommodation. However, you may contact the DSP Specialist listed on the student’s Instructor Letter if you need additional information.

Disabled Students Program cannot divulge specific information regarding a student's disability as this is not required under ADA. Confidentiality and privacy considerations also protect students from being compelled to disclose information specific to their disability. From our experience, we find that most students will freely disclose to their instructors; however, there are some who are uncomfortable doing so.

If it is a request that you believe does not compromise the academic standards of your course and that you can easily grant, it is your right as an instructor to provide an academic allowance. Students with disabilities should receive at least the same teaching support you would provide to any other students. If however, support is being offered to a student based on your knowledge of a disability when it would not normally be provided to any other student and the request may compromise the integrity of the course via a fundamental alteration, it is recommended that you check with the DSP Specialist indicated on the instructor letter to verify that the student has appropriate documentation to support such a request.

No, however you may be asked to consider allowing students to provide evidence of what they have learned in different but equally challenging formats (i.e. oral, instead of in written form, or vice versa). The opportunity to write tests and examinations outside of the regular format is a fairly typical accommodation granted to students with disabilities. However, the completed work should be treated no differently from that of other students in your class, and the essential elements of the course should not be compromised.

The accommodation of "extended time (double time)" applies to all tests, exams, quizzes, and pop-quizzes. Faculty members may find the "extended time" accommodation straightforward for tests and exams but may be stumped when considering this accommodation with in-class quizzes and pop-quizzes. Faculty members can contact the Testing Center at or 805-893-6041 to discuss specific quiz and pop-quiz concerns.

DSP considers one week to be the threshold for universal design. If students are afforded less than one week to complete a take-home exam, then a DSP student may be eligible for extended time on the take-home exam. If a student presents a request for additional time on a take-home exam, please refer them back to their assigned specialist for review.

In the “Quiz Administration” panel, select “User Overrides” and for each individual, provide a longer time limit. This must be done on a case by case basis for each DSP student in accordance with their extension of time (this is indicated in the instructor letter you received from the student indicating they were registered with DSP).

For more detailed information, including screenshots of this process, please visit our Gauchospace Exams page.

Alt Media and Technology

LSIT has created a page of resources intended to assist faculty with various components of campus technology.  This includes information and instruction on the use of Zoom, Gauchocast, Panopto, Canva, and Gradescope among others. These resources can be found on the LSIT Help Center website.