DSPS Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Disabled Students Program and Services (DSPS) office?

The Program supports a wide variety of individuals with disabilities: visual, hearing, mobility, developmental, acquired brain injury; learning and psychological disabilities are within the scope of the program. DSPS provides accommodations such as: counseling and academic guidance, note-takers, testing accommodations, equipment, adapted in-class furniture, enlarged print, and ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters. Special classes (Adapted P.E.) offered through DSPS include specialized training and re-training in vocational, academic, creative and independent life-skills areas.

2. What is the first step to receive services from the DSPS?

The first step is an appointment with an experienced Counselor, who can assess student needs, recommend the appropriate accommodations, and make the connections with the staff who can provide those accommodations. When a student requests disability-related services, the student’s disability is confirmed by a DSPS counselor in accordance with state-mandated criteria. It is the student’s responsibility to provide professional documentation of specific educational limitations before an academic adjustment will be authorized. To make an appointment, please call us at (510) 215-3969. The Contra Costa College DSPS office is open from Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

3. How do I qualify for DSPS services?

Eligibility for disability-related services is in accordance with federal and state laws and California Community College policies to ensure an equitable educational opportunity. A student who receives benefits or services from another agency or program (Veterans, Social Security, Department of Rehabilitation, etc.) may not always qualify for services at Contra Costa College. The ultimate decision regarding eligibility at Contra Costa College is a judgment that must be made by a DSPS counselor in order to discern if a student’s disability results in an educational limitation. In addition, some accommodations that are provided in high schools, such as proofreading, reduction of course standards and re-phrasing of exam questions are not offered. Students with disabilities must meet the same program requirements as students without disabilities.

4. What are reasonable accommodations?

Reasonable accommodations are support services which allow a student to have access to an education without altering fundamental requirements.

5. What kind of services can I receive if I have a disability?

Services tailored to your disability are arranged through consultation with your counselor. Your services may include a wide range of disability support services requiring authorization for accommodations. Some examples of possible services are: note-taking, testing accommodations, visual aids, sign language interpreting, alternate media, accessible furniture, adapted technology, career development, disability management counseling.

6. Who may be eligible for services?

Individuals with either temporary or permanent disabilities may be eligible for services. Verifiable disabilities include, but are not limited to:

Acquired brain injuries
Asperger’s Syndrome
Attention deficit disorders
Cardiac conditions
Chronic illnesses, including HIV
Chronic pain disorders
Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Developmental delays
Learning disabilities
Mobility disabilities
Psychological disabilities
Repetitive strain injuries
Seizure disorders
Visual disabilities

7. How is a verification of disability completed?

Verification of a primary disability is necessary to establish eligibility for participation in DSPS services. The disability will be verified by certificated DSPS personnel based upon observation or documents provided by appropriate credentialed, certificated, or licensed professionals. The verification will need to identify the disability and the educational limitations that result.

8. Where is the documentation to verifying disability sent?

Documentation verifying your disability (such as a psych-educational assessment of a learning disability, or a medical certificate) should be forwarded to our office as soon as you have applied to a program.

9. What is a disability counselor?

Each student in the DSPS program will be assigned a disability counselor to assist you to obtain services designed to accommodate individual limitations.

10. What if I have a learning disability?

Please contact DSPS and bring any other documentation that verifies your disability. A DSPS counselor will then determine if you are eligible for services.

11. How do I find out if I have a learning disability?

If you think you may have a Learning Disability discuss this with a DSPS counselor. Students may be referred to a Learning Disabilities Specialist, who will discuss your situation with you in greater detail. If a Learning Disability is suspected, testing will be arranged. There is no charge for this testing, but be aware that the total process takes two or three appointments and approximately six hours of testing.

12. Must I be a student at Contra Costa College to get a learning disability assessment at the college?

Testing to determine learning disability eligibility is available through DSPS to students who are enrolled at Contra Costa College.

13. I’m coming to Contra Costa College and have to take the placement tests. If I need accommodations for them, what do I do?

If you are interested in trying to get accommodations for the Placement Tests, please make an appointment with a DSPS counselor.

14. If I have been absent from college, do I need to apply again to DSPS?

No, you remain eligible as long as you are still disabled.

15. What should I bring to my DSPS appointment for accommodation letters?

Please bring a copy of current class schedule. Letters may be obtained for courses you are officially enrolled in

16. Must all students with a disability register with the DSPS program?

No, participation in DSPS is voluntary and students must request DSPS services.

17. What does the program cost?

There is no additional cost to the student for DSPS services.

18. When are you open?

The DSPS office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am -4:30pm and on Friday from 8:00 am- 1:00pm.

19. I had resource services at my high school, and I am currently a student at Contra Costa College. How can I get services?

If you received resource services in high school you probably had an IEP. Please bring in a copy of your IEP from high school to help the counselor determine what accommodations would better serve you.

20. What if I encounter an architectural barrier on campus?

Please let the DSPS know immediately.

21. Are test accommodations available?

See Student Guide to DSPS Testing Services

22. How are accommodations decided?

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis by the DSPS counselor regarding the student’s needs as described in his/her disability documentation.

23. What is the best way to discuss classroom accommodations with my instructor?

Initiating a conversation with your instructor can be intimidating, especially if you are discussing accommodations. Check to see if the professor has posted or provided open office hours and make sure you visit during those times. You may also be able to set an appointment, which will allow you time to speak without interruption. Understand what you want before talking with the professor. Think about what you want before talking with your professor. No matter what it is, the more specific you can be when asking, the better the professor will be able to help you. If you have accommodations and want to discuss how to carry out the accommodations, be courteous about making arrangements. Rather than being demanding, ask how the accommodations could best be implemented. Accept that a professor does not need to give accommodations prior to when they were formally requested.

24. What if the instructor seems unwilling or unsure of the appropriate accommodations?

If you are finding your instructor is unwilling or unsure, please come speak with a DSPS counselor about the situation.

25. Is there a student club?

Yes, DSPS has the Ability Club. The Ability Club offers leadership opportunities, field trips, letters of recommendation, looks great on resumes, and participants receive invites to social events. For more information on the Ability Club please contact the club advisor Eric Mendel at (510) 215-4778 or by e-mail at Abilityclub@gmail.com.