Disabled Students Programs & Services at College of San Mateo - Faculty Resource Guide
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Disability Resource Center (DRC)

Faculty Resource Guide

General Considerations

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 these students. However, special accommodations may be needed, as well as modifications in the way information is presented and in methods of testing and evaluation. To accomplish this, faculty can draw upon the student's own prior learning experiences, use available college resources, and collaborate with the DSPS staff.


Students with disabilities are protected under Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the civil rights laws. Under FERPA, student records are confidential, to be shared with others only when there is a demonstrated need. At no time should the faculty make any statements or implications that the student is different from the general student population. Understand confidentiality and do not identify the person or their disability information to other students.

Classroom behavior

All students must adhere to the CSM Student Code of Conduct. Faculty should follow procedures for reporting disruptive student behavior and direct infractions to the vice-president of student services. Include the DSPS Office in efforts to resolve the problem.

Recording lectures

Students who are unable to take or read notes have the right to record class lectures only for their personal study. It is specifically addressed under Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation ACt and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The legal reference, found in the Code of Federal Regulation 34CFR104.44 (b) for Section 504 reads as follows:

(b) Other rules. A recipient (college) to which this subpart applies may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of guide dogs in campus buildings, that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program of activity.

Lectures taped for personal study may not be shared with other people without the consent of the lecturer. Information contained in the tape-recorded lecture is protected under federal copyright laws and may not be published or quoted without the express consent of the lecturer and without giving proper identity and credit to the lecturer.

Maintaining a right to privacy of information revealed in classroom discussion, an instructor may object to the use of a tape recorder. The instructor's right to privacy, however, does not override the student's right to this accommodation. It is the responsibility of DSP&S to see that the instructor's concern for privacy is respected and addressed while still assuring the availability of the accommodation for the student. In many instances this has been accomplished through a contract between the instructor and student that details the specific limited use of the tapes and makes arrangements for their disposal at the end of the semester.

Access Technology

Another service that is essential for students with disabilities is access technology. Students who are blind, learning disabled or physically disabled have special needs for technology. Access to such technology is provided to the student in the most integrated setting possible. At CSM, computers labs on campus have special access technology that can be used during class and students have access to the Assistive Technology Center for test accommodations and more extensive work.

Materials in alternate formats

DSPS provides textbooks and class materials in alternate formats (Braille, electronic text, large print, audio tapes). If possible, textbooks are secured before the semester begins. Having class materials, such as handouts or tests, in advance is helpful since it takes time to scan and format. Contact the Assistive Technology Center at 574-6698.

Read legislation authorizing the production of instructional materials in alternate formats.

Identifying a student with a disability

Determining that a student is disabled may not always be a simple process. Visible disabilities are immediately recognizable such as a physical impairment, or the use of a cane, a wheelchair or crutches. Other students may have hidden disabilities, such as hearing impairments, legal blindness, cardiac conditions, learning disabilities, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, psychiatric or seizure disorders, which are usually not apparent. Some students will identify themselves by contacting the Disability Resource Center and their instructors early in the semester. Others, especially those with hidden disabilities, may not. Some students may be reluctant to discuss the disability, or have difficulty explaining it. Without academic accommodations, these students may run into trouble in their course work.

An announcement made at the beginning of the term inviting students with disabilities to schedule appointments is helpful. Over two thirds of the students in DSPS reported that a syllabus statement, often read aloud by the faculty at the beginning of class, directed them to the DSPS office. If you suspect that a student has a disability, discuss the question with the student. You may find such an approach awkward, at least initially, but discussing accommodations at the outset is extremely beneficial. Remember, the DSPS staff is always willing to assist you if you have any questions about accommodation requests from students.

Syllabus Statement

Add a statement to your syllabus inviting students to discuss their needs and accommodation strategies with you. Read the statement out loud in case students have problems with print format. Repeat the statement during the first two weeks.

Sample statements:
If you have a documented disability and need accommodations for this class, please see me as soon as possible or contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) for assistance. DSPS is located in Bldg 10 Room 120. phone: 574-6438. or

Students requiring accommodations for a certified disability that may affect class performance are requested to schedule an appointment with me during the first week of the semester. You can also meet with a staff member at the Disability Resource Center (DRC) so that appropriate arrangements can be made. DSPS is located in Bldg 10 Room 120. phone: 574-6438.

Classroom Accommodation

If a student has a disability and requests accommodations or services, refer the student to the Disabled Students Programs & Services (DSPS) for disability verification. If you are unsure of how to approach a student you suspect might have a disability, call us at 574-6438 and ask to speak to our disability specialist.

What if you do not agree with a recommended accommodation? When a dispute involves the conduct of a course or academic program, the SMCCCD Accommodations Policy provides procedures for consultation between the faculty member responsible for the course, the student and a representative from the Disability Resource Center. Read the SMCCCD's Accommodation Policy.

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