Disability Information Student Handbook

Section Two: Using Disability Services and Accommodations

Legal Aspects

Legal Basics - Disability In Higher Education

◊ Federal Laws ◊

◊ California Regulations ◊

◊ De Anza Academic Senate Policies ( Recording Lectures and Course Substitution/Waiver) ◊

FHDA Board Policies and Administrative Procedures


In high school, the laws that provided disability-related services were under the Federal
“Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997”(IDEA). The relevant laws that apply in college and in employment settings are different. These are briefly summarized below.

For more information, visit the DSPS Division's Web Links and Resources


Federal Laws:

Major federal mandates govern De Anza College’s response to students with disabilities:

These laws protect the civil rights of students with disabilities. The legal obligations under the ADA/ADAA and Sections 504 and 508 apply to the whole institution and are not the sole responsibility of the DSPS Division or its programs.

Sections 504 and 508 apply to entities that receive federal financial assistance while the ADA/ADAA expands and clarifies application to include private entities. De Anza must comply with the provisions of both statutes.


Civil Rights Act of 1964

This landmark legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.


Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973

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

As a public institution that receives federal assistance, Section 504 legally mandates De Anza College to take steps to prohibit discrimination in the recruitment, admission, and education of students with disabilities. Students with documented disabilities are entitled to receive approved modifications, appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and services that enable them to participate in, and have the opportunity to benefit from, all the college’s educational programs and activities.

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Section 508, Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In 1998, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended to require colleges receiving federal financial assistance to make their electronic and information technology accessible to students with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 also requires that electronic and information technology of the college is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities.

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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAA) of 2008

The ADA of 1990 was amended and reauthorized in 2008 (ADAA).  The ADA is best understood as civil rights legislation whose purpose is to provide a comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It gives individuals with disabilities the same civil rights protection as that provided on the basis of race, gender, national origin, and religion. Its five parts extend universal civil rights protection covering public and private sector employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The ADA applies to all institutions of higher education regardless of the receipt of federal financial assistance.

The ADA protects qualified individuals. In a college setting, these are students who meet the academic and technical standards for admission and participation but, due to their verified disability, need adjustments to do so. The ADA also requires that existing facilities be free of physical barriers. De Anza College has a compliance plan to make all facilities readily accessible.

The ADAA reauthorized and amended the ADA to be more inclusive by expanding the definition of disabilities.  https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm#12102

Individuals are considered to be persons with a disability if they:

  • Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities *.
  • Have a history of such an impairment or disability.
  • Are perceived by others as having such an impairment or disability.

Disabilities can be classified as:

  • Visible disabilities—These include physical and sensory disabilities such as visual, hearing, or mobility impairments.
  • Hidden disabilities—These include chronic health impairments such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and seizure disorders. They also include disabilities affecting cognition such as learning disabilities, acquired brain impairments, psychological disabilities, and attention deficit disorders.

* Major Life Activities include, but are not limited to:

    • Moving
    • Walking
    • Performing Manual Tasks
    • Bending
    • Standing
    • Lifting
    • Breathing
    • Concentrating
    • Seeing
    • Reading
    • Hearing
    • Communicating
    • Sleeping
    • Speaking
    • Eating
    • Caring for self
    • Learning
    • Thinking
    • Working
    • Major bodily functions, including but not limited to:
      • Functions of the immune system,
      • Normal cell growth,
      • Digestive,
      • Bowel,
      • Bladder,
      • Neurological,
      • Brain,
      • Respiratory,
      • Circulatory,
      • Endocrine, and
      • Reproductive functions.


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California - State Regulations

◊ California Code of Regulations - Title 5 - DSPS ◊

◊ Reasonable Accommodations ◊

◊ Auxiliary Aids ◊

◊ Alternate Formats ◊

◊ Confidentiality ◊


California Code of Regulations - Title 5 - DSPS Governing Regulations

Full Text (pdf) - 2015 Implementing Guidelines for Title 5 DSPS Regulations

In addition to operating under the mandates of Sections 504 / 508 and the ADAA, De Anza College and the DSPS Division is governed by the California Code of Regulations - Title 5 enacted in 1977 and revised in 1993 and 2015. Title 5 guides the provision of services and instruction to students with disabilities. It also provides funding that offsets some of the additional costs of providing authorized services.

Title 5 specifies that DSPS services or instruction must:

  • Be directly related to the educational limitations of the student’s verified disabilities.
  • Be directly related to the student’s participation in the educational programs and activities.
  • Support participation in educational programs and activities consistent with the college mission.
  • Promote maximum independence and integration.

Title 5 also specifies that DSPS services or instruction must not:

  • Duplicate those available to all students.
  • Limit the number of qualified students with disabilities.
  • Establish rules and policies that have the effect of limiting participation by students with disabilities in educational programs or activities.
  • Exclude qualified students with disabilities from any college course of study.
  • Provide less financial assistance to students with disabilities than is provided to students without disabilities or limit eligibility for scholarships on the basis of disability.
  • Measure student achievement using methods that discriminate against students with disabilities.
  • Counsel students with disabilities into more restrictive career paths than those recommended to students who are not disabled.


Reasonable Accommodations

Colleges are required to provide reasonable accommodations (academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, services, and educational assistance courses) so that students with verified disabilities can fulfill academic requirements.

These accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes in teaching methods or materials
  • Increased time allowances
  • Alternate assignments
  • Substitution of equivalent courses. Link to Academic Senate Policy

Effective accommodations relate directly to the student’s educational limitation. They are designed to:

  • Overcome disadvantages imposed by a disability.
  • Provide equal opportunity for achievement.
  • Address individual needs.
  • Be provided as a legal right, not as a privilege.

Effective accommodations preserve academic integrity. They must not:

  • Provide a competitive advantage.
  • Lower the academic standard by “watering down” content.
  • Lower the academic standard by grading the student more leniently.
  • Continue if ineffective or no longer required.

Academic accommodations are not required if they would alter the fundamental nature of a course or a program. However, the burden of proof is on the college to demonstrate that the student’s accommodations will alter the fundamental nature of a course or a program. A central consideration is that the college administration and the faculty/staff member have made good faith efforts to provide appropriate, reasonable, and equal access to the college’s educational programs, services, and activities without altering their fundamental nature.


Auxiliary Aids

Colleges and universities must provide auxiliary aids to ensure that students are not, in effect, excluded from programs and activities. These include, but are not limited to, such assistance as that provided by

  • Sign language interpreters,
  • Real-time captioners,
  • Readers, or
  • Scribes.

Specialized equipment may be required, including equipment to make laboratories, computers, and information systems accessible. Video materials, distance learning courses, libraries, and information provided on the Internet must likewise be accessible for students with disabilities.

Colleges are not required to provide assistance or devices of a personal nature or which are individually prescribed.


Alternative Formats

Campus materials available to the public must be available in alternate formats upon request. Instructional materials requested by a student with print disabilities for a specific class must be translated in a timely fashion into an appropriate alternative format. Alternative formats include, but are not limited to:

  • Audiotape,
  • Large print,
  • Braille, and
  • Electronic text made accessible by assistive technology.



Disability information is privileged and highly confidential. College administration, faculty, and staff should be aware that strict legal provisions protect student privacy. Key points are summarized below.

  • Disability records are separate from the student’s other college and academic records.
  • Prior to providing the accommodation, faculty may verify with the DSPS Division that:
    • A student has documented their disability and
    • That the student’s accommodations are authorized as appropriate, reasonable, and current.
    • A student with a non-visible disability may prefer not to disclose their specific disability diagnosis, but if the student requests accommodation, a faculty member should require that the student’s eligibility be verified and current. Contact DSPS for assistance.
    • Some students request that DSPS inform faculty members of their enrollment. If a particular service provider, such as a sign language interpreter, is assigned, that information will be forwarded.
    • Any discussion of disability issues should be conducted in private with the student.
    • The student, and no one else, may share the diagnosis and other particulars of the disability with faculty. A student’s decision to share such information is entirely voluntary.
    • Faculty must make general classroom announcements and not single out a student with a disability unnecessarily.
    • Information cannot be shared with other faculty, staff, or students without the student’s expressed consent. The only exception is a “specific professional need to know,” and if this rare circumstance arises, the faculty member is advised to first consult with the DSPS Division Dean or the College ADA/504 Officer.

Disability information is privileged and highly confidential. Questions on confidentiality should be addressed to the DSPS Division Dean or the College ADA/504 Officer

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De Anza College Academic Senate Policy Statements
Senate Policy Statement on Taping Classroom Lectures

Pursuant to a review of both the intent and letter of Title V regulations, it is the position of the De Anza College Faculty Academic Senate that the determination of the allowability of taping classroom lectures must remain with the individual classroom instructor on a lecture-by-lecture basis. The sole exception to this is the right to tape granted to physically limited and learning disabled students by State of California statute. It is suggested that each instructor include his or her general policy on each Course Information Sheet. The De Anza Student Body has taken a position pursuing the notion that all students should have the right to tape and does not find the con statements compelling.

Approved by the De Anza College Faculty Academic Senate on April 13, 1987.


Senate Policy on Course Substitution

De Anza College intends all of its graduates to master the competencies required by Title V of the California Education Code and to complete the courses required for graduation. The college recognizes that most disabilities that preclude a student from completing a course can be overcome by altering the method of course delivery and providing a combination of appropriate accommodations. Therefore, for most students with documented disabilities, the first level of accommodation will involve an attempt to complete the course with extra help or altered means of delivery.

For some students with a disability, accommodations and alterations of course delivery will not be enough to enable the student to complete the course. If a student with a disability has discovered that the first level of accommodation is insufficient to enable him/her to complete the course, or if a student's disability is of such magnitude that any attempt at completing the course would be futile, that student may submit a petition for course substitution or, as a last resort, course waiver. The decision to make a course substitution or waiver will be made on a case-by-case basis by a DSPS counselor and the instructor who teaches the course to be substituted, in conjunction with the Department Head and the Division Dean.

Any course substitution or waiver granted by De Anza College is for the purpose of De Anza College's requirements only, and may not be recognized by a subsequent educational institution and/or licensing board.

Conditions of Course Substitution/Waiver Petition

The following conditions must exist before an application to the Academic Council for a substitution or waiver can be made:

  • The student must have a letter from an appropriate DSPS specialist providing a history of the student's effort and certifying that the student's disability interferes with the successful completion of the course in question. This letter will serve as an application and be a precursor to an Academic Council petition.
  • The student must have a fully-documented disability whose educational limitations significantly affect his/her ability to master a specific course.
  • The student must have a documented history of past academic success with at least a 2.0 grade point average, indicating the ability to successfully complete courses in general education and courses in his/her certificate or major.
  • The student must have documentation that all known and available accommodations had been examined and/or utilized in an attempt to pass the course.
  • The student might generally be granted only one disability related waiver/substitution per major. However, on a case-by-case basis, additional waivers/substitutions can be requested.
Administrative Procedures

The student with a documented disability seeking accommodations in completing a course or in meeting a proficiency requirement shall request assistance from the appropriate DSPS specialist.

The DSPS specialist will assess and document the extent of the disability and its educational limitations, and shall recommend appropriate accommodation or alternative versions of the course in question. The case will be brought before a subcommittee of the Academic Senate if the specialist concludes that the severity of the disability warrants course substitution or waiver (or if the student believes his/her situation warrants this, but the specialist does not).

The Academic Council shall act and may request that one or more of the following act as consultants:

  • A Division Dean for the concerned academic area
  • A contract instructor (preferably one who teaches the course in question) from the concerned academic area
  • The De Anza College DSPS specialist involved in the case
  • De Anza College's Articulation officer, as needed for information
  • De Anza College's Registrar, as needed for information
  • A representative from the Academic Council, preferably from the concerned academic area
  • The ADA/504 officer
  • An advocate of the student's choice, if desired by the student

The Academic Council shall hear cases if the student has made a good faith effort to complete the course and has made use of all accommodations recommended. Or, the student, the DSPS specialist, and, if available, the instructor of the last course attempted, agree that even beginning the course with accommodation is futile due to the severity of the disability.

In making any decision, the Academic Council must make the following determinations:

  • The course in question is not essential to the student's individual course of study. If it is considered essential to the course of study, a substitution or waiver will be denied to protect the integrity of the program as well as the student's best interests in pursuing that program.
  • If the course is supportive to the course of study, the committee will seek an appropriate course substitution. If no appropriate course substitution can be found due to the severity of the limitations of the disability, a waiver may be granted. It is anticipated that the committee will in most cases be able to recommend a substitution.
  • If the student has failed the class despite accommodations, the grade will be administratively handled on his/her official transcript. There will be an indication that there was an officially approved substitution for that grade. Explanations to Licensing Boards also will be provided.

The Academic Council's decision will be determined by a simple majority vote. The decision will be forwarded to the student within two weeks of receiving the original written petition.

Petition Appeals

If the student is dissatisfied with the Academic Council's decision, he/she may appeal in the following order:

  1. President of De Anza College or designee
  2. District ADA Officer
  3. Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees

As each of the above groups receives a written notice of appeal, it should respond in a timely manner. The appeal should be addressed at the next meeting of their respective groups or as promptly as possible.

Approved by the De Anza College Faculty Academic Senate on June 13, 1994.


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FHDA Board Policies and Administrative Procedures

◊ Services Dogs ◊

◊ Requesting and Receiving Accommodations ◊

◊ Suspension of Services ◊

◊ DSPS ◊

◊ Academic Accommodations ◊

◊ Course Repeatability ◊

◊ Student Rights and Responsibilities ◊

◊ Student Code of Conduct ◊

◊ Student Due Process and Discipline◊

◊ Student Grievances ◊


Service Animals

BP 3440

AP 3440


Requesting and Receiving Accommodation(s) Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Requests


Suspension/Termination of Support Services for Students with Disabilities


Disabled Students/Special Education Program
BP 5075


Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
BP 5077         


Course Repeatability for Students with Disabilities


Student Rights and Responsibilities


Student Code of Conduct
AP 5510


Student Due Process and Discipline
AP 5520


Student Grievances
AP 5530



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Last Updated: 6/15/17