Student SAS Handbook
Student Accessibility Services HOURS and Location
Monday – Friday:
8:00-4:00 (hours may vary through June-July)
Scheduled Summer 2021 Services Closures: July 5 (Independence Day – observed)
Location: SAS Main Office (D117)
Table of Contents
Welcome to the College of Alameda Student Accessibility Services (SAS) Program (formerly known as DSPS).
SAS provides assistance to students whose goals include:
- transfer to 4-year college
- Associate Degree
- Certificate of Completion
- basic skills improvement
- personal growth
SAS offers academic advising, counseling, diagnostic testing, access to assistive technology, and other academic accommodations but you must request these services. It is important to meet with your SAS counselor each semester to review your progress and to arrange for classroom accommodations.
You should also review a copy of the College of Alameda Catalog and Class Schedule to learn about college policies, courses, programs, degree requirements, and other general information.
For information and enrollment assistance, please schedule an appointment with a SAS counselor using our online appointment system or by calling our office at 510-748-2328. We look forward to working with you!
Mission of SAS
SAS provides both instruction and support services to students with disabilities. We serve approximately 600 students per year, or about 1 in 8 students at the college. The goal is to support the student with a disability in educational activities consistent with the mission of the college, federal and state law, and Peralta Board policy. (Please see Appendix A for a summary of these laws.)
The mission of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) is to provide exemplary support services, instruction and access to students with disabilities. SAS supports students with disabilities in instructionally related activities consistent with the mission, vision, and values of the College of Alameda and in compliance with federal and state laws. With equal access as its hallmark, the faculty and staff of SAS are committed to the following:
- Opportunity: To ensure equal educational opportunities to students with disabilities who have the potential for achieving academic and vocational goals consistent with a community college program.
- Empowerment: To empower students with disabilities to achieve independence and integration leading to maximum participation in the college and the community.
- Awareness: To provide information and support to College of Alameda employees and students in carrying out the institution’s responsibility to students with disabilities.
The SAS mission forms the basis for this handbook.
How to Apply for SAS Services
If you are new to SAS, you begin by meeting with a SAS Counselor. Please call 510-748-2328 to schedule an appointment, or use our online appointment scheduling system. If you want information about a specific program, you can also call any SAS faculty or staff member.
What to Bring to Your First Appointment
- You should bring your most current written verification of disability, medical report, Department of Rehabilitation Plan or Learning Disabilities Assessment. If you think you have a disability but don’t currently have documentation, please discuss that with the counselor. You may be eligible for specialized assessment.
- Student ID#.
- List of Questions
Please complete and submit your SAS application paperwork prior to your appointment. If you need assistance, please contact our office by phone. If you must cancel, please call as soon as possible. If you do cancel, be aware that it may take a while before another appointment is available.
Continuing students who have already submitted disability documentation to SAS should meet with a SAS counselor each semester to review progress, enroll in classes, evaluate the effectiveness of accommodations, and arrange for accommodations for the following semester. You may also enroll online, but we recommend that you meet with a SAS counselor to choose appropriate classes. In addition, if you are enrolling in SAS classes, you will need to register through SAS. You will also need to arrange for accommodations through your SAS counselor.
If you have been away for more than 5 years, your file may have been discarded. In these cases, you must register with SAS as a new student by resubmitting documentation of disability. (See NEW STUDENTS above).
Summary of Procedures to Request Academic Accommodations
(SAS Staff are available to assist with this process.)
- Student makes contact with SAS and asks for accommodations.
- Student provides SAS with documentation of disability or is referred to the Learning Disability Specialist for testing. The documentation must be from an agency or licensed or certified professional who is qualified to evaluate the student’s disability and the effect it has on the learning process.
- If the student is eligible for services, the SAS counselor, in consultation with the student, identifies educational limitations, determines academic accommodations, and completes the Student Educational Contract.
- With the student’s consent, SAS sends the instructor the Academic Accommodations Form. If testing accommodations are authorized, the student will bring the Exam Proctoring Request form to the instructor to be signed.
- SAS assists instructor in providing accommodations.
- Student and SAS evaluate accommodations with input from student’s instructors.
Please note: Before you discuss accommodations with faculty, you should have already submitted documentation to SAS. Instructional faculty are not expected to evaluate disability documentation. By law they are not required, nor advised, to provide accommodations unless the student has submitted the necessary documentation to the college. If you have not given documentation to SAS, the instructor should refer you back to SAS to talk with a counselor.
* Very occasionally a student chooses to submit documentation through the 504/ADA Coordinator; at the College of Alameda that person is the Vice President of Student Services. However, SAS will still need to evaluate disability documentation and discuss the request for accommodations with the student.
Who is Eligible for Services?
- Did you have a 504 Plan or IEP in high school?
- Do you have a documented disability that makes it hard for you to learn or to attend classes?
- Have you always had difficulty in one or more academic subjects (i.e. English or math)?
- Have you been medically discharged from the armed services?
- If you’ve answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then you should meet with a SAS counselor to determine how SAS can help.
Students who are high school graduates or 18 years of age and who have a documented disability may be eligible for SAS services.
SAS serves students whose disabilities include:
- Mobility impairment
- Visual disability
- Learning disability
- Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Acquired brain injury
- Intellectual disability
- Psychological disability
- Chronic health problems
- Persons in recovery from drug and alcohol use
Although SAS works primarily with students with permanent or ongoing disabilities, students with temporary disabilities due to accident, illness, surgery or other circumstances may also qualify for SAS services on a temporary basis if the disability substantially interferes with the student’s ability to participate successfully in the academic environment.
Services Provided to Eligible Students
SAS provides educational and vocational support services for students with disabilities enrolled at the college. Because accommodations are determined for each individual student, based on how the disability affects learning, your counselor will discuss with you which of the following services would be appropriate.
Services may include:
- Academic, personal, and vocational counseling
- College program planning
- Diagnostic testing
- Priority registration and enrollment assistance
- Fee waiver processing
- Support services personnel such as note takers, real-time captioners, sign language interpreters, and scribes
- Testing accommodations
- Liaison with four-year colleges and community agencies
- Liaison with the Department of Rehabilitation and the Regional Center
- Instructional materials in alternate media, such as braille, large print, e-text, tactile graphics, and audio recordings
- Access to adapted computer equipment and other assistive technology
- Equipment/material loans
In addition to support services for general college classes, SAS offers courses to students with disabilities through the Learning Resources discipline. There are four programmatic areas: the Learning Skills Program; the Adapted Computer Learning Center which includes instruction in assistive technology for students with varying disabilities and cognitive skills for students with acquired brain injury or learning disabilities; the WorkAbility III program; and the College to Career Program.
The SAS classes offer group instruction. Classes are taught using lecture, discussion, hands-on practice, use of computer software to reinforce skills, and small group work.
Learning Skills Program
Assists students with learning disabilities by providing assessment, advising, and liaison with campus instructors and programs. Teaches learning strategies in reading, writing, spelling, math, and study skills. Covers basic through college skill levels.
- Learning Resources 296- Diagnostic Learning
- Individual assessment of learning strengths and weaknesses to determine eligibility for services as an adult with learning disabilities.
- Learning Resources 259- Writing Strategies
- Designed for students with learning disabilities to master techniques and strategies for writing ranging from sentences to research papers. Students are required to co-enroll in a mainstream English class.
- Learning Resources Math 276 – Learning Strategies in Algebra and Geometry
- Introduces students to concepts in algebra and geometry. Students with learning disabilities master learning strategies in mathematics appropriate to their learning strengths and weaknesses. Students are required to co-enroll in a mainstream Math class.
- Learning Resources 277 – Introduction to Mathematical Concepts and Strategies
- Mastering quantitative concepts and developing problem-solving skills in mathematics. Students are required to co-enroll in a mainstream Math class.
- Learning Resources 296- Diagnostic Learning
Adapted Computer Learning Center
Provides keyboard modification, speech synthesis, screen enlargement, braille output, voice input for hands-free computer operation, and other computer adaptations as appropriate for students with learning disabilities, acquired brain injury, visual impairment, physical disability. Provides computer-assisted instruction in cognitive skills for students with acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities.
- Learning Resources 213 – Improving Cognitive Skills
- Designed for students with acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities. This computer-assisted cognitive retraining class emphasizes problem solving and decision making at school, home, and work. Instruction in combination with cognitive software remediates basic mental processes such as attention, memory, and sequencing. Complex thinking skills such as categorizing, logical problem solving, and abstract reasoning are also addressed. Compensatory strategies for decreased cognitive function are developed.
- Learning Resources 211 – Computer Access
- Designed for students with visual, physical, or learning disabilities. Students learn word processing, using adaptive programs as appropriate, to facilitate writing business letters, resumes, reports, and flyers. Includes use of screen reading software to assist in editing and proofreading written work. Introductory Internet skills, including e-mail, basic research, locating resources on the web. This course meets the AA degree computer literacy requirement.
- Learning Resources 272 – Computer Access Projects
- Students who have completed Computer Access and who need to use adaptive computer equipment may enroll in Projects to improve writing and editing skills by preparing papers for mainstream classes. Students enrolled in mainstream Computer Information Systems courses may also enroll in Projects to practice and reinforce skills learned in CIS.
- Learning Resources 213 – Improving Cognitive Skills
A joint program of College of Alameda and the Department of Rehabilitation.
- Learning Resources 269 – Job Experience
- This class emphasizes job seeking skills and job placement.
- Learning Resources 269 – Job Experience
College to Career Program
College of Alameda is one of five California Community Colleges selected for the College to Career grant, funded by the Department of Rehabilitation through 2014. Twenty students are accepted each year. The goals of the program are to improve employment outcomes for persons with intellectual disability (ID) and to expand the range of jobs available to persons with ID, with emphasis on areas of job growth.
- Learning Resources 263 – Vocational Assessment
- Evaluation of vocational, academic and social skills, job readiness, career interests, and basic reading and math assessment.
- Learning Resources 279 – Communication Strategies
- Development of appropriate social skills for the workplace; personal social effectiveness (assertiveness) in vocational and social settings; appropriate behaviors for cooperative/community building in the workplace, and goal setting/organizational skills
- Learning Resources 269 – Job Experience
- This class emphasizes job seeking skills and job placement.
- Learning Resources 263 – Vocational Assessment
Rights to Confidentiality
Under the laws affecting higher education, students have the right to confidentiality.
With your permission, SAS sends your instructors an accommodation form documenting that you have a disability and that you are entitled to specific accommodations. However, we do not identify your specific disability because that information is confidential unless your disability is apparent (for example, if you use a wheelchair or if you are deaf and need a sign language interpreter.) When an instructor receives the accommodation form, or if you share disability-related information with your instructor verbally or in writing, the instructor must keep that information confidential.
It is not legal, for example, for the instructor to announce by name that you need a note taker, or to mention your disability in class or in the presence of other students.
If you believe that an instructor or other college staff member has violated your rights to confidentiality, SAS recommends that you talk to the instructor during an office hour. In addition, you can ask your SAS Counselor or the SAS Coordinator for assistance in intervening with the instructor or staff member. If the problem persists, you can also follow the Student Grievance and Due Process Procedure as outlined in the college catalog.
College of Alameda’s Learning Skills Program provides assessment to determine if students are eligible for learning disabilities services. What is a learning disability?
First of all, people with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence. A learning disability is NOT the same as overall low ability. However, because of differences in the way the brain processes information, there may be significant discrepancies between the person’s intelligence and how s/he performs in a school, or job, setting.
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.
Many individuals, particularly older adults, with learning disabilities aren’t aware of the reasons for their difficulties in learning. Perhaps they thought of themselves as “dumb” or “lazy” because their teachers or families gave them those labels. Others may have been able to use their strong memory, good people skills, or some other strength to carry them through their high school years. However, when they get to college and try to learn algebra, read a biology textbook, or take notes from a complicated lecture, they discover that it is much harder to work around their learning problems without help.
There are many well-known individuals who have learning disabilities and who have achieved success. They include Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, Charles Schwab (CEO of the investment company), Albert Einstein, Scott Adams (cartoonist and creator of Dilbert), and many others.
If you are struggling with your class work, you can answer the following questions to see if taking the Learning Disability assessment would be a good idea.
Would you answer yes to any of the following questions?
- Even though I am successful at my other courses, am I avoiding math, or English, or critical thinking because I think I can’t do it?
- Can I learn when I read the textbook but have trouble learning from a lecture?
- Do I need more time for tests than other students?
- Do I read so slowly that I am always behind in my reading assignments?
- Am I having trouble with algebra because I don’t know fractions or the multiplication tables?
- Do I have trouble organizing my time, my notebooks, and/or my written essays?
- Do I know the information for a test when I study with my study group but get a bad grade on my tests anyway?
- Is spelling so difficult that I cannot find the words I need in the dictionary?
- In math, do I mix up the arithmetic signs (such as + – x)?
- Do I have trouble working with numbers in columns?
- Do I have trouble taking notes and understanding later what I wrote?
If you answered Yes to one or more of the questions, you may be eligible for learning disability assessment.
To find out for sure, do the following:
- Make an appointment to talk with a SAS counselor. If Learning Disability Assessment is appropriate for you, the counselor can help you enroll in Learning Resources 296, Diagnostic Learning. You must also be registered in at least one other class at COA.
Priority registration allows students with disabilities, and some other students at the college, to register for classes before the general registration begins. This may be important for students who need accommodations that take time to arrange, for students whose disability limits the times or days that they can take classes, or for other special needs. Priority registration also gives students the opportunity to register for classes that fill up quickly. Of course, students can also register for classes after priority registration, if they are available. There is no guarantee that students will get the classes they want, so registering at the earliest time available is suggested.
Each semester it is recommended that SAS students schedule an appointment with their SAS counselor 1-2 weeks before priority registration. During that appointment, the student will plan with their SAS counselor classes for the upcoming semester and set up services and accommodations for those classes.
Students enrolling in educational assistance classes should register through the SAS office rather than online because these classes are locked (that is, you cannot register for them online.) Students can enroll in other classes through online enrollment. However, if you need SAS accommodations for those classes, you will have to arrange for them with your SAS counselor.
Accommodations must be set up every semester through an appointment with the student and their SAS counselor.
Note Taker/Scribe Services
A SAS counselor must authorize the use of a note taker or scribe before this service is provided. Note taking refers to taking notes from a lecture. Scribing refers to the physical act of writing on behalf of students who are unable to do so, for example to complete in-class written assignments.
Note taking: The instructor will be asked to make an anonymous announcement in class requesting that another student in the class provide a copy of his/her notes. The instructor is informed that in order to keep disability information confidential, s/he should not announce the name of the student who requires a note taker. You also have the option to find someone in your class to act as a note taker and refer that person to SAS.
If another student who is taking the class agrees to serve as a note taker, s/he will submit notes to the SAS office. The Support Services Specialist will evaluate the quality of the notes and contact the note taker. The note taker will receive a stipend of $50 for the semester.
The note taker will then come into the SAS office to make a copy of the notes after each class. (During distance education note takers will submit their notes electronically.)
It is the responsibility of the student to pick up the notes from the student pick-up box and to inform DSPS if the note taker is not fulfilling his/her responsibilities. If notes are not picked up within 30 days, they may be discarded.
To receive note taking services, students are required to attend class. A note taker does not, and cannot, substitute for class attendance. The only exception will be if the student has a health-related disability which interferes with regular class attendance and the SAS counselor has authorized note taking during the student’s absence.
Sign Language Interpreters/Real Time Captioning
Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and who require a sign language interpreter or real-time captioner to participate in class must meet with a SAS counselor to arrange for these services. Preferably this would be done during priority registration, or at least four weeks before the beginning of the semester, because it can take several weeks to hire an interpreter or real-time captioner. If the student delays in requesting these services, interpreting/real-time captioning services cannot be guaranteed for the start of classes.
Procedure for Interpreter/Real-Time Captioning Services
Schedule a meeting with your SAS counselor, preferably during priority registration or as soon as possible before the beginning of the semester.
Before the meeting, plan out a tentative course schedule.
If the student is registering with the SAS office for the first time, s/he must provide verified documentation of hearing loss before interpreter/real-time captioning services can be authorized.
Complete the Interpreter/Real Time Captioner Agreement Form.
Once an interpreter/real-time captioner is hired, the student must comply with the following procedures:
If a student is going to be absent from a class, s/he must contact the SAS office at email@example.com or by phone at (510) 748-2328, preferably 48 hours in advance of the class meeting time. The student should leave a detailed message including the student’s name, student ID#, class, and class meeting date and time. If the student knows more than a day in advance that s/he will not attend the class, it is important to notify the SAS office as soon as possible so that the services can be cancelled for that day.
Interpreters will wait outside of the classroom for a student only 10 minutes per hour of class time. Interpreters are required to notify the SAS office when a student is absent from class.
If there are two absences, interpreting/real-time captioning services may be suspended until the student meets with a SAS counselor to determine why there are problems in attending the class. The SAS counselor may or may not reinstate services at that time.
If the interpreter does not attend a class session, the student should notify the SAS office.
If the student will need an interpreter for special one-time events (such as meeting with an instructor) the request must be made at least one week prior to that meeting. If the request is made with less than one week’s notice, interpreting services cannot be guaranteed.
If the SAS Counselor determines that you are eligible for testing accommodations, SAS will complete an Exam Proctoring Request Form. Please take the form to the instructor then follow these procedures:
- Have the instructor read, fill out, and sign the Exam Proctoring Request Form. The instructor should return the form to you.
- Bring the completed form to SAS.
- As soon as your instructor notifies you of the test day, fill out the Student Request for Testing form and bring it to SAS. Because SAS has to arrange for a room and a proctor, we need at least 3 days notice for each test. No test will be administered without the proper completed paperwork.
Other important points:
Testing accommodations will occur on the same day, and preferably at the same time, that other students are taking the exam. An exception maybe when the student has classes immediately before and after the class in which the test is occurring and would not have enough time to complete the test with accommodations. In this case, another test time will be arranged and the instructor will be notified of this exception.
It is important to be on time for tests. If you are late, that time will be deducted from your total time. For example, if you are scheduled for a 2 hour test and you arrive 30 minutes late, you will have only 1 hours to complete the test.
If you think you will need to take a break, please let the test proctor know ahead of time. Please get water, use the bathroom, etc, before the test session.
If there is cheating, unauthorized use of notes, books, or other improper behavior, the instructor will be notified. You may choose to complete the test, but the proctor will make a notation on the test and the test will be returned to the instructor. SAS will report incidents to the instructor where violations have occurred, but we do not determine guilt. Your instructor will decide what to do with the information provided by SAS.
If cheating has occurred, SAS may suspend test proctoring services for the rest of the semester. If these behaviors occurred on a final exam, test proctoring may be suspended for the following semester. Cheating is a violation of the Student Rules of Conduct and can also lead to disciplinary action by the college. (See the College Catalog for the Student Rules of Conduct.)
Students may not be excused from the testing environment once the test has begun. Occasionally tests may be divided over two testing sessions if approved by the SAS counselor as an appropriate accommodation.
Failure to comply with SAS procedures may result in suspension or termination of this service.
Alternate media services (including braille, tactile graphics, print enlarging, electronic text [e-text], and audiobooks) may be provided to students who have a verified disability and whose disability-related limitations prevent them from accessing print in its standard or published, format.
Audio Texts/Electronic Text (E-Text)
Textbooks and course materials on audiotape can be obtained from Learning Ally (formerly Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic). If the material is not available at Learning Ally, the textbook material can be scanned so that it can be accessed electronically.
State law AB422 requires that publishers provide books on disk (e-text) for students with visual or reading disabilities. Electronic text is a version of textbooks and course materials available as a computer text file. There are specific legal requirements to access this service.
- Students meet with a SAS Counselor to verify their disability and the educational limitations that necessitate textbooks and course materials in alternate formats.
- After the SAS Counselor authorizes alternate media services, the student should meet with the Alternate Media Specialist to complete the Application for Alternate Media Services. If the student is requesting e-text, s/he should also complete the Electronic Text Request Documentation Form.
- Students must be registered in the course for which they are requesting alternate media.
- Required texts only will be provided in alternate format. Students must own a physical copy of the textbook or other course material.
- Alternate format requests must be submitted as soon as the student knows the material will be needed. We recommend that students make the request at least four weeks before the beginning of the class because it may take several weeks to obtain the e-text from the publisher or scan the book.
- Students using alternate media services are responsible for providing SAS in a timely manner with course textbook information, a copy of the syllabus, and/or copies of the course handouts and materials for each class in which alternate media is requested. If it is possible to get materials from instructors on disk or via e-mail, that will speed up the process.
- If SAS cannot get e-text from the publisher, staff will scan the book. The binding will be removed to allow use of the high speed scanner. If a student does not want the binding removed, the student can scan the book manually.
- The material is distributed in a specialized format exclusively for use by the eligible student with reading disabilities. The student must not copy or reproduce any material provided by SAS nor allow anyone else to do so because the material on the disk is copyrighted. Violation of this rule may result in suspension or termination of alternate media services and, furthermore, may result in disciplinary action by the college.
- Students are responsible for informing the Alternate Media Specialist whenever changes occur that affect the need for alternate media.
- Alternate media must be requested each semester that it is needed.
Large print textbooks: 3 days per chapter
Large print handouts: 1 day
E-text from publisher: 4 – 6 weeks
E-text in-house: 1 week per chapter
Tactile graphics: 10 days
Get your requests to your SAS counselor as early as possible.
Individuals with visual disabilities can use e-text with a refreshable braille display or with screen reading software that reads aloud the information that is on the screen.
Individuals with low vision may be able to read e-text on a computer by using software such as ZoomText to magnify the image on the screen or by increasing the font size within a standard computer program.
Students with learning disabilities may use computer programs such as Kurzweil to listen to books and employ study skills features in the program.
Brailled and Tactile Graphics
Braille is a system of reading and writing for blind individuals. Tactile graphics allow diagrams printed on special heat-sensitive paper to be heated in a specialized device to produce raised lines and images.
Print enlarging is the magnification of print from e-text, textbooks, and course materials. One alternative to hard copy large print is the use of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system which permits magnification of the page being viewed.
COA currently has Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTV’s) in the Adapted Computer Learning Center (D116), the Library, and in the Support Services Specialist’s office.
If the SAS counselor authorizes the use of any adaptive equipment or materials that SAS has available for loan, the student should contact the Support Services Specialist to complete the Equipment Release Form.
The student must agree to return the equipment, including all auxiliary cords, cases, etc. in good working order by the agreed upon due date.
If the equipment or material is not returned by the agreed upon due date (usually the end of the semester), or upon dropping the courses for which it was loaned, a hold will be placed on the student’s records which means that the student will not be able to register for classes or access official transcripts until the equipment has been returned.
If the equipment is not returned, the student will be responsible for replacement costs.
Repeating Educational Assistance Classes
Students may repeat SAS classes for a limited number of times under the following conditions:
“When the continuing success of the student in other general and/or educational assistance classes is dependent on additional repetitions of a specific class;
When additional repetitions of a specific educational assistance class are essential to completing a student’s preparation for enrollment into other regular or educational assistance classes;
When the student has a student educational contract which involves a goal other than completion of the educational assistance class in question and repetition of the course will further the achievement of that goal.” (From Title 5 Section 56029 Implementing Guidelines)
The SAS Counselor may authorize repetition of educational assistance classes on a case-by-case basis if the requirements listed above are met.
Students with disabilities have access to tutoring through the college’s Learning Resources and Tutorial Center. It is recommended that the student attend class and attempt to meet class requirements, meeting the instructor if necessary to clarify assignments and discuss any concerns. If the student feels that tutoring is needed, s/he can contact the Learning Resources and Tutorial Center directly or can discuss this need with the SAS Counselor. With the student’s consent, the Counselor can provide the tutor with suggestions on how best to provide the tutoring.
For students enrolled in Math or English classes strategies coaching may be available through the SAS’s Learning Skills program. Please discuss this with the SAS Counselor or the Learning Disabilities Specialist.
Students who are clients of the Department of Rehabilitation may also discuss their need for specialized tutoring with their DR counselor.
Student Standards of Conduct
All students who attend the college, including students with disabilities, are expected to be familiar with the Peralta Community College District’s Student Rules of Conduct and to abide by them.
For more information about the rules and possible consequences for violating them, all students should consult the College Catalog.
Suspension of Services
A student with a disability, like any other student on the campus, must adhere to the Student Rules of Conduct adopted by the college. Suspension of services to the student under the Rules of Conduct must go through the same procedures as with any other student.
There are two additional ways that eligible students may be denied services through SAS:
- lack of measurable progress
- inappropriate use of services
A lack of measurable progress may be defined in any of the following ways and may result in a loss of DSPS services:
- Failure to meet College of Alameda’s academic standards as established by the college.
- Failure to follow SAS service policies.
- Failure to make progress toward the goals outlined in the Academic Accommodation Plan
Inappropriate Use of Services
Inappropriate use of services is defined as a failure to comply with the policies and procedures of individual services that students are using. Failure to comply with the terms stated within each specific service area may result in suspension of that service.
- Prior to the suspension of a service, the student will be notified in writing that, unless s/he meets with the SAS Counselor to discuss the area of concern, the service will be automatically suspended.
- At the time of the meeting with the SAS Counselor, the student will need to sign a contract which outlines the guidelines for continuing services.
- If service is suspended, it will be for the current semester only.
- Suspended services may be reinstated during the current semester only on the authorization of a SAS Counselor, and only if there are extenuating circumstances which warrant the reinstatement of the service.
- Reinstatement of services for subsequent semesters will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Students seeking to appeal the suspension of services should arrange to discuss the matter with the SAS Coordinator. If after consulting with the Coordinator the student is still not satisfied, s/he may appeal to the Vice President of Student Services.
Some students have special needs that may require emergency or first aid response. This may include students who have seizures, students with certain psychological disabilities, students with cardiac disabilities, and others. It is important that you inform SAS of an emergency contact person, including a daytime phone number, in the event that you require medical attention or transport to your home or medical facility. It is also recommended that you provide this same information to the college nurse and to campus police services.
In the event of a fire, earthquake, or other incident requiring campus-wide response, the college will institute its emergency evacuation plan that includes evacuation of students and employees with disabilities. It is important that you are familiar with your needs in an emergency. Be familiar with alarm signals, establish a buddy system for each class, and advise your instructor within the first week of each semester how to assist you in the event of an emergency.
SAS does not issue disability parking placards. Students who have a designated license plate or a parking placard issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are eligible to park in any specially marked handicapped parking space. If these spaces are full, parking is permitted in any other parking stall. However, all students must purchase a standard parking permit from the machine in the parking lot or purchase a semester parking permit.
SAS does not have money available to grant or loan to students. Students are encouraged to apply for Financial Aid to assist with the purchase of books, supplies, and other educational necessities.
There are specific guidelines and deadlines for applying for Financial Aid. Some programs do not qualify for Financial Aid. For more information please go to the Financial Aid office in Room A-124 or call 510-748-2391.
Some students will qualify for California College Promise Grants (CCPG) fee waivers based on income or other factors. Please discuss this with the Financial Aid office.
Students might also qualify for funds from the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) for low income and educationally disadvantaged students. For information about EOPS, please go to Room 203 or call 510-748-2258.
Students with Disabilities may also qualify for financial support through the California Department of Rehabilitation.
Federal and state laws and Peralta Board Policy govern the rights of students with disabilities to higher education. These laws and policies include Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973 and 1998); the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990); Peralta Board Policy 5.24; Title 5 (sections 56000 through 56076). For specific information about these laws and policies, please see Appendix A.
Following is a summary of what current law requires and what it does not require.
What the Law Requires
The law requires equal access to instruction, services, activities, and facilities of the college.
The law requires that the student be evaluated on ability, not disability.
The law requires accommodations when the student has an educational limitation that affects the ability to acquire information or to demonstrate knowledge of the course material in a standard way.
What the Law Does Not Require
The law does not require changing standards, or grading policies, because a student has a disability.
The law does not require allowing a student to cheat.
The law does not require providing accommodations to a student who verbally claims a disability but who has not provided documentation to the college, either through DSPS or through the 504/ADA Compliance Officer.
The law does not require providing personal devices such as wheelchairs, hearing aids or glasses.
The law does not require providing personal services such as assistance with eating or dressing.
The law does not require providing accommodations that would fundamentally alter the nature of a program.
The law does not require providing accommodations which lower or substantially modify academic or program standards.
Rights & Responsibilities
Rights and Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities have the right:
- To participate voluntarily in SAS
- To participate in other courses, programs, or activities offered by the college
- To be evaluated based on ability, not disability
- To appeal a decision regarding accommodations through the student grievance process
Students with disabilities have the responsibility:
- To provide professional documentation of disability to the college
- To request accommodations in a timely way
- To follow SAS procedures for obtaining accommodations
- To work cooperatively with SAS to determine and implement accommodations
- To comply with the Student Rules of Conduct as written in the College catalog
- To maintain the academic standards of the college
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
Faculty have the right:
- To set academic standards
- To evaluate the student based on the standards of the class and to grade accordingly
- To advise the student to contact SAS if the student requests an accommodation and the instructor has not received written notification from the SAS office
Faculty have the responsibility:
- To work with SAS to provide for accommodations in a fair and timely way
- To adjust instruction without fundamentally altering the program
- To provide handouts in a timely way for alternate media provision
- To select textbooks in a timely way so e-text can be ordered from the publisher
- To respect and maintain a student’s right to confidentiality about his/her disability
- To contact the SAS office if there is disagreement about the accommodation
- To work with SAS to ensure that instructional web pages are accessible to students who use assistive technology
- To work with SAS to ensure that instructional videos are captioned
Faculty do not have the right to refuse to provide accommodations, to question whether the disability exists when accommodations have been authorized by SAS, or to request to examine the student’s documentation.
SAS Rights and Responsibilities
SAS has the right:
- To request and receive current documentation that supports the need for accommodations
- To deny a request for accommodations if the documentation demonstrates that the request is not warranted or if the individual fails to provide appropriate documentation
- To suspend or terminate services if the student repeatedly does not comply with SAS policies or procedures or does not meet the academic standards established by the college.
SAS has the responsibility:
- To assist faculty in providing or arranging accommodations and/or auxiliary aids
- To hold student information confidential except where permitted or required by law
- To communicate to students, faculty, and staff the process to request accommodations
- To verify the student’s disabilities and authorize accommodations based on educational limitations caused by the disability
- To establish requirements for measurable progress and abuse of services. If a student does not adhere to established procedures, SAS will notify the student of the possibility of suspension or termination of SAS services.
Is DSPS the Same as Special Education?
There is no Special Education in postsecondary education, although some students may choose to participate in classes offered by SAS.
If you participated in Special Education classes in K-12, you will find that your rights and responsibilities and the services provided to you are different in college. That is because the federal law that applies to K-12 (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA) does not apply to postsecondary schools.
You may want to read an article by Kristin Stanberry, interviewing Paul Grossman, former chief regional attorney of the San Francisco Office for Civil Rights (OCR), entitled “Attorney Paul Grossman on legal rights for college students with LD” http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/legal-rights-college-students/
Please also read this chart which further explains some of the differences between disability accommodations at the college versus those at high schools.
Student Grievance Rights
When a student requests disability-related services, the student’s disability is verified by the SAS professional, according to state-mandated criteria. If the student is deemed ineligible for services and wishes to appeal this decision, he/she may file a complaint through the District’s Harassment and Discrimination Complaint Procedures. Concurrently, the College ADA Coordinator will review the case and make an interim decision pending resolution through the District procedure.
If a student is denied academic accommodations or the use of auxiliary aids by an instructor and wishes to appeal, she/he should contact the SAS professional who will schedule a meeting with the instructor to discuss and resolve the issue. The student may invite the SAS professional (i.e., a SAS Coordinator, Counselor, Instructor, Acquired Brain Injury Specialist, Learning Disability Specialist etc.) to attend this meeting. In the case where an unresolved issue becomes a dispute (i.e., an issue that is not resolved informally between the student and the instructor with the assistance of the SAS professional), the student may file a complaint through the District’s Harassment and Discrimination Complaint Procedures. Concurrently, the College ADA Coordinator or designee will review the case and make an interim decision pending resolution through the District procedure.
College Success Skills
As a student with a disability, it is critical that you understand your disability and how it affects your ability to learn and participate in college. Many students believe that if they are interested in college and motivated to learn, they will be successful — but this is not enough!
There are many differences between high school and college learning environments. They include:
Actual time spent in classes is considerably less in college than in high school, creating much more free time.
The freedom to cut classes or spend time with friends is much greater in college than in high school. Missing classes, however, is directly correlated to failure in college.
College professors spend much more time lecturing and expect students to read and study textbooks on their own.
Studying in college does not necessarily mean homework; it means independent learning, such as reading, reviewing notes, or studying outside sources in the library.
For every hour in class, about 2-3 hours outside of class should be spent studying, whereas high school might have required only 2-3 hours a day of studying.
Tests in college are generally given less frequently than in high school, so grades are based on fewer opportunities.
In college a C (not C-) is generally considered the lowest passing grade; anything else can risk probation or dismissal.
Research has shown that many students have not developed a systematic approach to study skills. In college, your instructors will take for granted that you have these skills, that you can read, write, listen, take notes, and work on exams and assignments effectively. Successful students have a system.
Following is a list of suggested study skills and strategies that may be helpful to you in college. You can also try the Learning Strategies for Different Learning Styles described in Appendix B and see which approaches work for you. The Student Assessment of Instructional Preferences in Appendix C might also help you evaluate how you learn best in a classroom.
Effective Learning Strategies
- Attend all classes.
- Preview new material and review the previous lecture before each class.
- Sit toward the front of the class.
- Come to class prepared with materials and a positive frame of mind.
- If you need to tape record lectures, be sure that the instructor has been notified that taping the class is an approved accommodation. Then, as a courtesy, ask permission of the instructor before you tape. Take notes while you tape record.
- Review tapes and/or notes within 24 hours of class.
- Study with others.
- Meet with your instructor if you are having difficulty.
- Use a computer for writing assignments. Use the spell check feature to help you with proofreading.
Time Management Ideas
- Keep a master calendar. Make sure it’s large enough to enter assignments, exams, social events, and important assignments.
- Work backwards from the due date on long-range assignments and build in extra time for setting the project aside just to think about it. Go over this time line with your instructor and ask for feedback on your progress periodically.
- Allow 2 hours for homework, studying, or reading for each hour of class.
- Make sure you have understood an assignment correctly before plunging into it. Don’t wait until you have finished the assignment to find out that you have not fulfilled the requirements.
- Often the hardest part of getting your work done on time and keeping up with the workload is getting started on a new assignment. Start by making a commitment of 30 minutes and then lengthen study periods gradually.
- Learning is synonymous with reviewing. Reviewing frequently and regularly throughout the semester is essential.
- Color code, enlarge, underline, and highlight your notes to strengthen your visual memory of the material.
- Copy your notes to facilitate memorizing.
- Tape record lectures and listen to them while driving, exercising, eating, etc.
- Review frequently and commit material to memory using strategies that aid recall such as listing, categorizing, imaging, visualizing, alphabetizing, and devising acronyms and associations.
Test Taking Techniques
- No test taking secret or gimmick can substitute for thorough preparation.
- Read over the entire exam and read all directions.
- Ask your instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand.
- Do the easy questions first and make reasonable choices on those you don’t know.
- Learn to use relaxation and breathing techniques to lessen test anxiety.
- Underline key words in each question.
- Eliminate obvious wrong answers.
- Try to anticipate an answer.
- Understand the use of negative words and prefixes.
- Read each question carefully and underline key words.
- Use key words from the questions and write notes in the margin as a mini-outline.
- Budget your time carefully.
- Strive for a well-organized, focused essay.
- Be specific — state the main point.
- Provide details and examples and/or statistics.
- Use transition words to make your essay coherent.
In summary, to maximize your success in college:
- Develop strategies, study skills and a network of support!
- Attend class.
- Arrive on time, pay attention, and participate in class discussions and activities.
- Talk to the instructor. Ask questions.
- Complete and check all work. Turn in neat and clear assignments.
- Monitor your progress. If you begin to fall behind, ask for help.
- Stay in contact with SAS and your professors.
Academic differences between high school and college – from Ruth Proctor at Marymount College Learning Center in the Fall 1997 CAPED Communique.
Strategies list from “College Students with Learning Disabilities: A Handbook” by Susan Vogel and the College of San Mateo DSPS Student Handbook.
Self-advocacy skills include knowing how to skillfully initiate action and interact with faculty, staff, and other students to obtain support services necessary for your learning needs. If you require accommodations, you are the one who must recognize the need, make the initial contacts, follow up on these contacts, and maintain the necessary actions to receive the services needed. Request aid from your instructors and from SAS, if necessary.
The following guidelines for talking with college instructors may be helpful in meeting with faculty.
First, define the goal of the interaction with your instructor. What outcomes do you wish to have from the meeting? A clear goal helps you prepare your approach and keeps you “on-task” in the meeting.
Whatever the specific purpose of the meeting, every interaction with instructors should leave them with a favorable impression of your motivation, preparation, and overall interest in learning, as well as your interest in the specific course content. Anything you do that demonstrates this to your instructor is usually appropriate.
Make an appointment. See your class syllabus or the department secretary for contact information, i.e. phone numbers, office hours, etc.
Be on time. Call if you are going to be late. You may want to offer the option of re-scheduling the appointment so the instructor’s time isn’t wasted.
Introduce yourself. Tell the instructor what class you are in and any other information which will help them identify you and respond specifically to your situation.
Be calm and courteous. Address the instructor by their title and surname (Dr. Smith, Mr./Ms. Jones) unless specifically invited to do otherwise.
Be prepared. Bring along any material you wish to discuss or examples of problems you want the instructor to review. Any materials, notes, or books relating to the class, including the syllabus, are handy to have along.
Respect the instructor’s time. Don’t ask questions which can be answered by the course readings or assignments. End your meeting at the agreed upon time, or ask permission to go a bit longer. Example: “I see it’s nearly two o’clock. Do you have ten more minutes or should I reschedule.”
Discussing Your Disability
Remember that before discussing accommodations with faculty, you should have already submitted documentation to SAS. Instructional faculty are not expected to evaluate disability documentation. By law they are not required, nor advised, to provide accommodations unless the student has submitted the necessary documentation to the college. If you have not given documentation to SAS, the instructor is likely to refer you back to talk to a SAS counselor.
It’s natural to feel uncomfortable discussing your disability and accommodations and to worry about how instructors will react. Remember that you are not asking for a favor; you are entitled by law to receive appropriate academic accommodations.
Make an appointment with each of your instructors early in the semester to discuss any accommodations in which the faculty will be involved. Keep in mind that you are among many students with whom an instructor might have contact in the first few weeks of the semester.
If you will be using testing accommodations in the class, inform the instructor at the earliest possible time.
Describe any other accommodations you may need, explaining the reason for their use if possible. Answer any questions or concerns they may have by providing the information yourself and/or referring them to the SAS office.
Ask for any advice they might offer on learning the course material, studying for exams, or otherwise performing well in the class. Then, listen to the advice and follow it — at least on a trial basis.
It is also appropriate to share with faculty what helps you (or doesn’t help you) in the course and to compliment them on any techniques that aid your learning. Example: “Your quick reviews after every lecture are very useful for me in organizing and remembering the material” or “When you are writing on the board, I need you to say aloud what you are writing.”
Practice what you are going to say to your instructors.
If an instructor appears to become negative or says that you are not entitled to a particular accommodation, then politely thank them for their time, leave, and contact your DSPS counselor for advice.
“College: You Can Do It! How Students with Disabilities Can Prepare for College” – pamphlet from the University of Washington Project DO-IT http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Academics/college.html
“Guidelines for Talking with College Instructors,” a handout from Jill Huttenbrauck, Learning Disability Specialist at San Diego Mesa College and “Facing the Professor: Not Always an Easy Task for Students with Learning Disabilities” by Mary Kay Harrington in The Advocate, Winter 1992 Cal Poly.
“How College Students with Learning Disabilities Can Advocate for Themselves” by Linda Tessler from LDA Newsbriefs, September/October 1997. http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/postsecondary/lda_selfadv.html
Appendix A: Legal Summary
Legal Foundations for Academic Accommodations
Section 504, ADA, Board Policy 5.24, Section 508
Passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 insured that students with disabilities had access to higher education. This was civil rights legislation, its intent similar to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibited discrimination based on gender. “Under Section 504, individuals with disabilities are protected from exclusion, disparate treatment, and harassment on the basis of their disability.” Section 504, which is still in effect, placed the responsibility of access to higher education primarily on public institutions which received federal funds.
A person with a disability is defined as any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
In July of 1990, the disability movement in the United States picked up momentum with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA, “no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a public entity.” In practical terms, the ADA merely extended the existing rights of students with disabilities to institutions that did not receive federal funds. However, because the ADA covers all aspects of disability in society including employment, education, telecommunications, private sector services, public sector services, transportation and more, it has raised awareness of disability issues.
In July 1994 the Peralta Trustees adopted Board Policy 5.24. In that document the Peralta District “commits itself to a policy of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination for students with disabilities. It is the policy of the District to accommodate requests involving academic adjustment consistent with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.”
On August 7, 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (19 U.S.C. 794d) to expand the federal government’s responsibility to provide electronic and information technology which is accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically covers federal agencies but has an impact on the greater public.
Section 508 requires Federal departments or agencies that develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, to ensure that the electronic and information technology is accessible. Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities seeking information or services from a Federal department or agency, have access to, and use of, information and data comparable to that provided to individuals without disabilities.
For example, the U.S. Department of Education, the IRS, and other government Web sites must provide access for blind users who use speech output systems. If any video clips are used they must have captions and descriptions. Visual images should also be audio-described so that people who are blind or deaf have equal access.
Section 508 became effective June 2001. Although Section 508 specifically covers federal agencies, Ralph Black, General Counsel in the State Chancellor�s Office, provided to the colleges Legal Opinion M 01-17 on June 11, 2001. It states that Section 508 also applies to California Community Colleges. In 2002 SB 105 (Burton) was signed into law; it requires that all state agencies comply with Section 508. Thus, districts are required to adopt policies and procedures to ensure that all electronic and information technologies are accessible to persons with disabilities.
To sum up, federal legislation requires that colleges and universities accept otherwise qualified students with disabilities into academic programs. Colleges should work with students to identify and implement accommodations that will grant them access to educational opportunities. With cooperation from the student, faculty, SAS, and the college, accommodation strategies can be determined and implemented successfully.
L. Scott Lissner, “Legal Issues Concerning All Faculty in Higher Education,” in Accommodations– or Just Good Teaching?, p. 10.
San Diego Mesa College Instructor Handbook, p. 1.
Appendix B: Learning Strategies
Strategies for Visual Learners
- take notes while listening whenever possible
- highlight important points in your notes with colored pens
- make drawings or diagrams
- write out as much as you can when studying
- write in your textbook, marking important words or concepts
- read assignments and previous notes before each class
- ask for written instructions
- use 2 or more books to get additional explanations
- tape lectures; reset the counter at the beginning and write down the counter number of places in the lecture that are unclear
- sit near the front of the classroom to avoid distractions
- pay close attention to the instructor
- make and use flashcards
- use computer programs that illustrate the topics
- use workbooks and supplemental handouts
Strategies for Auditory Learners
- take part in class discussions
- restate, in your own words, concepts you are learning
- explain what you are learning to anyone who will listen
- ask lots of questions in class
- ask the instructor to repeat important ideas
- sit in the front of the classroom to avoid distractions
- listen carefully to lectures; try to follow the ideas in sequence
- tape lectures and listen to them over and over
- reset the counter at the beginning and write down the counter number of places in the lecture that are unclear
- record key concepts, formulas, explanations and listen to them often
- listen for keywords that the instructor emphasizes or repeats
- read your notes and texts out loud
- read into a tape recorder and play it back
- find a classmate who takes good notes and ask if you can share them
- after you read an assignment, immediately say aloud what you have learned
Strategies for Kinesthetic/Tactile Learners
- use computers and workbooks
- use your fingers and toes if it helps to solve math problems
- make new concepts concrete by using measuring cups, toothpicks, marbles, paper clips, rulers, etc.
- use a calculator
- use or build models to help you understand new concepts
- work as many problems as possible
- as soon as you learn how to do a problem, do another one right away
- try to solve problems in different ways to decide which works best for you
- rewrite class notes
- shift positions often
- walk back and forth or rock in a rocking chair while reading your assignments
- while you exercise or do other physical activities, review what you are learning
- study on an exercise bike; move both your arms and legs
Appendix C: Student Assessment of Instructional Preferences a Tool for Students
Directions: This is your chance to think about how you learn best in a classroom. Use this form to evaluate what works well for you in class and what doesn’t. Please read through each item in the Teacher Behaviors/Methods column. Then, mark the one column that best describes your experiences as very helpful to very challenging. The assessment has four sections.
In this section think about the way instructors have taught you. For example, in the first row, “Lecture format,” ask yourself if you find it helpful when an instructor lectures and you listen and take notes in class. If you find lecturing helpful, decide if it is very helpful to your learning, or if it is only a good way for you to learn sometimes. If you find lectures to be a difficult way to learn, you will want to check either the “somewhat challenging” or the “very challenging” column. For each item select only ONE of the four columns.
The statements listed in this section require you to think about the kind of activities that help you learn best during actual class time. Do you learn the information well through giving presentations, or is it better for you to learn during field trips or class discussions? Have class assignments required you to use your hands to build something (“manipulation of materials”)? Again, mark the one column that best describes how helpful it is.
Which ways of testing work best for you? This section lists many different ways instructors test their students. Which ways of testing have you found work best for you? If you like writing and do well writing essays you will want to choose the “very helpful” circle for the Essays selection. If you are stressed by time limits during tests, you will want to mark ONE of the “challenging” columns.
The final section concerns the homework you have completed in the past. Did you find it helpful when you were asked to find information on campus or in the community? When you were asked to complete projects outside of class, did you find these activities to be helpful, or were they challenging or frustrating for you? Once again, check the one column that best describes your experience.
Student Assessment of Teaching Experience
“Student Assessment of Instructional Preferences” IAM, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education. http://das.kucrl.org/iam/Stud.assess.pdf
Appendix D: Techonolgy Available in the Adapted Computer Learning Center
- Dragon Naturally Speaking (user speaks in phrases as results are displayed on the screen)
- Inspiration (software for brainstorming and displaying concepts in a mind map format)
- JAWS (screen reading software)
- Kurzweil 3000 (scan and read software to assist persons with reading difficulties)
- ZoomText (screen enlargement program)
- As well as a variety of cognitive skills software used in the Improving Cognitive Skills class.
Alternative Keyboards/Input Devices
- Large Print Keyboards
Devices for Students with Visual Disabilities
- Tactile Graphics Toaster
- Adjustable Chairs and Tables
- Big Keys Plus
- High-Speed Scanner
- Network Laser Printers
Full Internet Access
Appendix E: Further Reading
US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Publications:
- Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know your Rights and Responsibilities (Revised September 2011)
- Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities (Published 1998)
- The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Published 1995)
SAS thanks our former DSPS Coordinator, Helene Maxwell, who took on the task of writing this handbook as a sabbatical project. SAS attempts to review and update this handbook regularly, and thanks you for your patience and feedback if you find errors or links that need updating. Such feedback can be submitted by email to the SAS Coordinator.