Supporting Students with Disabilities

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San Francisco State University provides reasonable accommodations based on disability for eligible students. To become registered with the DPRC, students are required to meet with disability staff to discuss their disability and how it may impact their academic career. More information is explained in the frequently asked questions below. The best instructional strategy is to facilitate the accommodations that the student is authorized to use while attending SF State, which often also benefits other learners.

Please reach out to DPRC staff any time you have questions.

The following resources are also available regarding teaching and curriculum development:

Note: For employee accommodations, please visit the Employee Accommodations website

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the DPRC has developed the following Disability Access Statement for course syllabi:

"Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC, located in SSB 110, can be reached by telephone at 338-2472 (voice/TTY) or by e-mail at dprc@sfsu.edu.”

In addition to including an Access Statement on your syllabus, the following recommendations may assist in improved access and ease of accommodations to all students:

  • Attendance Policy: Please include a clear policy on attendance and its role in your grading scheme, if any.  This is helpful for all students to know and understand at the beginning of the semester.
  • It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may impact how they participate in course activities or meet course requirements. Students with documented disabilities must register with the DPRC to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. They are encouraged to contact their instructors to discuss their individual needs for accommodation; instructors are encouraged to contact the DPRC for assistance in providing accommodations.

The student will initiate a Faculty Notification Letter that will be emailed to you through our new database, myDPRC. This email verifies the student is qualified to receive accommodations and what types of accommodations students will need. Faculty who are presented with this document by a student and have questions about the contents are encouraged to discuss them directly with the student; in the event questions remain, faculty should contact the DPRC at (415) 338-2472 for further clarification.

Faculty are under no obligation to provide accommodations to students who do not have verification of accommodations from the DPRC office. Direct that student to the DPRC office so that a DPRC specialist and the student, together, can determine what reasonable accommodations meet the student's needs.

By law, students have the right not to share any information about the nature of their disability. As long as a student has presented you with their Faculty Notification Letter from DPRC, you are required to implement the accommodations. Faculty who have questions about the implementation of accommodations listed on this document are encouraged to talk with the student and contact DPRC if needed.

However, some students may choose to share disability information with you. Be supportive and keep the information in confidence. Do not disclose the information given.  Listen, validate and refer them to DPRC.

Students can schedule your exams and/or quizzes to be administered with accommodations through DPRC by completing the Alternative Testing Agreement via the myDPRC Faculty Portal. To learn more about how to complete the Alternative Testing agreement, please visit the myDPRC faculty training portal

Faculty are welcome to provide exam accommodations directly if the student agrees to this and you are able to provide all accommodations listed in the Faculty Notification Letter. If you wish to directly accommodate the student, we recommend you consult with our office prior to the exam date to ensure you have a full understanding of the approved reasonable accommodation listed (Low Distraction in particular) and are able to appropriately provide them. All approved reasonable exam accommodations must be applied to the entirety of the exam if the student has requested them.

Yes. There could be numerous reasons why a student makes a late request. Perhaps the student could not get documentation of their disability any earlier, and therefore could not initiate accommodations earlier.  However, accommodations are not retroactive. Consult with DPRC if you have questions.

Yes! Follow the instructions on the Accessible Media Quick Converter page. This service is available to all SF State Employees and Students.

Faculty should understand that while they are required to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities, they are not required to tolerate behavior that is substantially disruptive to their ability to teach and to other students' ability to learn. Faculty are expected to hold all students, including those registered with the DPRC, to the same code of conduct. Faculty are welcome to consult with the DPRC as needed. If a student's disruptive behavior cannot be contained, contact the University Police Department for immediate assistance. Faculty may also benefit from contacting the Dean of Students for additional non-emergency support.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational approach with three primary principles—multiple means of representation of information, multiple means of student action and expression, and multiple means of student engagement. To learn more about campus resources related to UDL visit the CEETL website

While National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is geared towards science classes, the NSTA website has resources that are helpful and applicable to most course subject areas, regardless of the type of instruction.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a general term for a group of complex conditions of brain development. These conditions are characterized, in varying degrees,  by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive development disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills.

Tips for Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum

The following tips were generated by the students in the SF State Autism Spectrum Support Group. Taking into account the multifarious and changing abilities and needs of each individual on the autism spectrum, there is no single method or approach that will support an individual at any given time. Thus, any guidance or accommodation that we provide must be rooted in an understanding of each individual’s unique experience.

Increase open communication and consistency; limit unexpected changes.

  • Maintain a structure that is consistent throughout the course of the semester and provide reasonable room or accommodations for incorporating any new changes to the curriculum. For example, a clear well-organized syllabus including a calendar of assignments and due dates.
  • Prepare students for participation; announce topics that will be covered, expectations for the participation, providing exam review sheets or sample papers/test questions.
  • If an issue arises, address it in a courteous manner (e.g., pull the student aside; encourage the student to come to office hours or make an appointment to discuss the issue). For additional support contact the San Francisco State University Disability Programs & Resource Center at (415) 338-2472 and/or Counseling & Psychological Services Center at (415) 338-2208.

Create a space for diverse ways of information processing and expression.

  • Make sure directions and questions are clear, direct and concise.
  • Present information through multiple methods and modalities (e.g., using illustrations, simulations, graphics, lists, models, videos, or writing in addition to verbal).
  • Allow additional time for students to process directions/questions (sometimes up to 30 seconds).
  • Some students may be very detail oriented and may need help seeing the bigger picture. Help students to make connections between texts, themselves, others, and the world.

Make your expectations for communication, participation, and student conduct explicit.

  • Make explicit the expected classroom behaviors with the whole class. These may include rules for mobile phone use, attendance, eating/drinking in class, or verbal participation. Work out a class arrangement to give an equal opportunity for students to contribute to class discussion.
  • Facilitate equitable in-class participation. Set a reasonable time limit for students to speak. Use agreed upon signals to alert students to a need for topic or speaker change. Provide discussion prompts in advance & assign lead discussants for different questions. Offer alternatives to face-to-face discussions.
  • Provide frequent and varied assessments of performance, which allow students to know how they are doing over time and to make adjustments. Diverse assessment approaches (e.g., oral presentations, case studies, take-home exams, in-class quizzes, and papers) allow different ways to demonstrate learning.

Create a comfortable sensory environment for learning.

  • Talk with the student and find out what makes a comfortable learning environment for them and make reasonable changes to the environment– e.g., asking the class to avoid wearing scented products or bringing pungent food to class; keeping the lights dim or using natural light; and reducing noise levels.

Additional Resources