Q: What is DSPS?
A: DSPS (Disability Support Programs & Services) serves the needs of NVC students with disabilities. Our primary purpose is to ensure that all students with disabilities have equal access to all of the programs and services at Napa Valley College. Napa Valley College operates an integrated program and services model to maximize and simplify students’ opportunities for success.
For questions about our services, please contact us via our email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Where is the DSPS office located on the campus?
A: DSPS is located on the second floor of the McCarthy Library - Building 1700, Room 1766.
Q: Who verifies disabilities and determines accommodations?
A: The DSPS program verifies disabilities and determines accommodations, also referred to as academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and services.
Q: How do accommodations (academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and services) assist students with disabilities?
A: Accommodations assist students with disabilities in equally participating in the instructional offerings and activities of the college. Accommodations cannot make fundamental alterations to the curriculum, meaning a change to a course curriculum or course of study that alters the required objectives or content of the curriculum in the approved course outline.
Q: Is there a statement I need to include on my syllabus?
A: In keeping with Napa Valley's policy on providing equal access to individuals with disabilities, instructors are strongly encouraged to include a statement on their syllabus informing students that academic accommodations on the basis of disability can be provided if the students follows protocol as described. The following statement contains all of the elements that should be present. Instructors may want to make changes on style preference or particular course content. Instructors who want further consultation in developing this statement can contact the Associate Dean of the DSPS at 707-256-7345. It is also strongly recommended you also read this statement to the students at the start of each semester reviewing course policies.
To obtain disability-related academic accommodations based on the impact of a learning disability or any other types of disability should contact the Disability Support Programs & Services (DSPS) as early as possible in the semester. A certificated staff will review your needs and determine the appropriate academic accommodations. All information and documentation is confidential. To contact DSPS you may:
- Email DSPS at email@example.com
- Visit DSPS in the McCarthy Library, Room 1762
- Call DSPS at 707-256-7345
If you already have an accommodation notification from DSPS, please contact me privately to discuss your needs.
Q: How do I know if a student in my class has a disability?
A: Students with disabilities must go through an intake process with a certificated DSPS staff member to verify their disability and determine reasonable accommodations that support their educational or functional limitations. Instructors will receive an Accommodation Letter via email sent from DSPS staff detailing the Academic Adjustments and Auxiliary Aids/Services from DSPS. We highly encourage the student to talk with the instructors regarding their learning needs; however, students with disabilities are entitled to confidentiality.
Q: What do you mean by "confidentiality"?
A: Students with disabilities are protected under key federal and state laws including Section 504 and 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title 5. NVC complies with federal and state laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, nationality origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, or status as a veteran or foster youth in any of its policies, procedures, or practices.
All information regarding disabilities is confidential. Staff and personnel cannot talk about the student's disability without written permission. To that end, students do not have to discuss their disability with instructors or staff. Students may choose to volunteer information, but do not directly ask them without their initiation
Q: Who do I contact if I have questions?
A: We are here for you! If you have any questions, please contact us by calling (707) 256-7345 or (707)256-7442 or stop by our office. During Fall and Spring semesters, our office is open Monday - Thursday, 8a.m. - 5p.m., and Fridays, 8a.m. - 11a.m. For Summer semesters, our office is open Monday - Thursday, 8a.m. - 5:30p.m
Q: What is the process if I have a question about a student's accommodations or have a concern regarding a DSPS student?
A: Please contact our DSPS Coordinator or Associate Dean at (707)256-7345 so we can remedy the situation immediately.
Q: Do I have to provide accommodations to a student who says they have a disability?
A: No, faculty should not provide accommodations unless the student is enrolled in the DSPS program. You will know that the student has enrolled when you receive an email with listed accommodations for your class through DSPS. Refer the student to DSPS if you have not received an email from us.
Q: Do students have to meet with me in person after they've requested their accommodations?
A: We tell students they can contact instructors in person or via campus email or phone, whichever they are most comfortable with, or if their instructor suggests a mode of contact, which you can do as a general announcement to your classes and/or as a statement on syllabi.
And no, it's not legally required to meet in person or even that they make contact with you at all. However, there are a few reasons that we ask for this interaction, the most important being it is extremely important for students with disabilities to advocate for themselves.
Other reasons are that some emails get lost or never get delivered, or it's possible that an instructor didn't check all of their emails. In these cases, we like to avoid complaints to Student Affairs, or, worse, the Office of Civil Rights.
If a student asks if you have received an email containing their Accommodations Notification, and you have not received it, refer the student to DSPS.
Q: When should students request accommodations?
A: We recommend that students request their accommodations as soon as they register for classes or during the first week of school at the latest. Many students wait until their first exam to submit their request, but we require 3-5 days to process the request, so requesting accommodations the day before or the day of an exam is not recommended. Submitting a request at the last minute may result in the student not being able to use their accommodations for that exam.
Q: Do I need to keep a record that I've allowed students to use their accommodations?
A: We don't keep a record proving that instructors have attended to students' requests, but we do ask students to let us know if they are in some way not able to use their accommodations.
Q: How are testing accommodations provided?
A: All testing accommodations are provided through the Testing and Tutoring Center in the Library, room 1764. Instructors will need to fill out an
Academic Exam Direct Cover Sheet
and submit it with the exam
preferably 48 hours in advance, but no later than 24 hours before the exam
. Exams can be submitted in person or via email to
Q: Can students take exams with their accommodations earlier or later than when my class meets?
A: Absolutely. While it is the students’ responsibility to make sure they allow enough time in their schedule for them to use the full time-and-a-half, we ask that you be flexible regarding the time frame that DSPS students take their exams. If the time-and-a-half extends beyond the end of a class period, it may cause a time conflict with the student’s next class, which then may cause them to rush through their exam or turn it in before they finish the test, thereby defeating the purpose of having time-and-a-half. In these cases, we tell students to inform you that they need to start their exam at an earlier time, or if coming earlier doesn’t work for their schedule, a later time (or even a different day) may have to be arranged. Again, we ask that exams are submitted to the TTC 48 hours but no later than 24 hours in advance of an exam. If the student does not arrange an earlier or later time to take their exam at the TTC when a time conflict may occur, it is not your responsibility to make sure they have all the time they are allotted to take their exam
Q: If I am allowing my class to use notes on their exam, do I have to allow students with accommodations to use notes since they're getting extra time?
A: Yes, if you are allowing your students to use notes on an exam, then you must allow a student to use notes while taking the exam with their accommodations in the TTC. However, you are not required to allow a DSPS student to use notes if you are not allowing students to use them in the classroom; being able to use notes on an exam is not a reasonable accommodation.
Q: Do students have to use their accommodations? Can they take exams in class?
A: No, students are not required to use their accommodations, although we do highly recommend that they do. If a student has requested accommodations but wants to take an exam in the classroom, they may do so. However, if the student doesn’t do well on the test, retaking the test is not an accommodation.
Q: Does the time-and-a-half accommodations apply to due dates on assignments?
A: The time-and-a-half is for exams only. There may be rare cases where accommodations are needed on assignments; however, this would be determined through the interactive process with certificated staff.
Q: I received notice that a note-taker is needed for my class. What do I do?
A: Note-takers accommodate many types of disabilities. You will need to find a note-taker for your class by reading the script that will be emailed to you outlining the student’s accommodations, remembering to keep the student’s name(s) confidential. Once you find a note-taker, you will need to fill out the form sent to your email with the student’s information and return it to DSPS Specialist, Jan Schardt,
Q: Are you interested in my notes, PowerPoints, and other written information?
A: Absolutely! It is much appreciated if you can send this information to
.Jason will email the material to the student. If the student gives you permission, you can directly send your materials to their email if you like.
Q: What are recorders?
A: Many types of disabilities require the use of recorders. These are described as using technology to capture sound and/or visual images. These can be phones, Smart Pens, tablets, laptops, audio recorders and other mobile devices. Any students using these devices have signed an agreement to protect the confidentiality and ownership of the recorded material.
Q: Do I need to arrange for lectures to be recorded? How do lectures get recorded?
A: Students record the lectures themselves. We have digital recorders that students can check out for the semester, but many have their own device or use the recording app on the phones.
Q: There is furniture in my classroom marked for disabilities. Do I need to do anything?
A: Some students require the use of special furniture. DSPS will tell specific students needing the furniture how to access it. Sometimes other students will sit at the furniture specified for DSPS. If we have any problems or need your help, we will contact you.
Q: What is a mobility break?
A: Students with this accommodation may need to get up to move around a bit during class. You can provide the whole class with a break if you’d like, but the students with this accommodation should know that they can get up when they need to. Some leave the class for a short time, and some may stand in the back of the room if they don’t want to miss any of the lecture.
Q: Do I really have to make my course accessible?
A: Yes. The California Community Colleges are bound by Federal law (Section 508) and California state law (Government Code Section 11135, that mirrors Section 508), to ensure that all DE courses be made accessible to students with disabilities. These legal requirements are reinforced by the Chancellor’s Office in the DE Guidelines. Beyond these legal requirements for electronic information, all of the services provided by the California Community College system must be equally available to all citizens of California. Following the Section 508 standards and the principles of Universal Design that are included in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is the recommended approach to use in achieving accessibility.
“….As officials of the agencies charged with enforcement and interpretation of the ADA and Section 504, we ask that you take steps to ensure that your college or university refrains from requiring the use of any electronic book reader, or other similar technology, in a teaching or classroom environment as long as the device remains inaccessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is unacceptable for universities to use emerging technology without insisting that this technology be accessible to students.” (‘Dear Colleague’ letter OCR and U.S. Dept of Education, 2010)
Q: I have a video I want to use in my distance education course that is not captioned, but I don’t know of any deaf students currently enrolled in my course. Do I still have to caption the video?
A: Per Section 508 guidelines, video files should always be captioned whenever possible, and in most situations they MUST be captioned. Generally speaking, if the video has audio and it will be stored for later or repeated use in a course, it must be captioned. It does not matter if the video is instructor or institution owned, or if it is a collection of clips and snippets; whatever video will be shown in a classroom, placed on a public website, or used in any open forum, needs to be captioned.
In order to use non-captioned video, the video must be contained in a secure, password-protected environment, there must be no students requiring captioning, and the video can only be used for a single term. Other exclusions to captioning include student work and raw footage that will never be archived after the current use, as well as video with foreign language subtitles. Quite simply, if you’re keeping the video and more than a very limited audience might view it, then you must caption it.
Q: How much time will it take to make my course accessible?
A: There are several variables that affect this question. The quantity of multimedia you incorporate into your course can impact the amount of time required. In addition, the more complex the multimedia, the greater the time that can be expected to address accessibility.
The key is to build accessibility into your course content during the development phase, so it will not be necessary to go back later to retrofit inaccessible content.
Q: What if I teach a Math or Chemistry course? Is accessibility possible?
A: The capability for designing and delivering accessible online Math and Chemistry courses has been rapidly expanding in recent years. Traditionally difficult, if not impossible, content such as the symbols and characters used in Math, Chemistry, and Engineering can now be rendered accessible. Advances in computing and communication technologies have made it possible for many disciplines that rely extensively on graphic means of conveying information to be designed and delivered in an accessible way.
Q: If I have no disabled students in my course, do I still have to make it accessible?
A: Yes. All courses must be accessible regardless of whether or not a disabled student is currently enrolled. There is no guarantee that you will NEVER have a student with a disability in your course. The intention and mandate of Section 508 is to remove all existing barriers to access so that when a disabled student does enroll, there will be no need to hastily retrofit materials to provide access.
Additionally, disabled students are not required to disclose their disabilities and, in an online course, it would likely be more difficult to identify disabilities than in a face-to-face course. All materials have to be accessible when presented, not in the after-the-fact accommodation style that is the norm in many face-to-face courses. Again, following the principle of Universal Design to make courses usable and effective for everyone benefits all students, not just students with disabilities.
Q: I understand that I might be exempt from making my content accessible if it is an undue burden to do so. What is an undue burden?
A: Undue burden is a concept presented in the Americans with Disabilities Act; defined in Section 35.150 of 29 USC. This section states that, in general, a public entity shall operate each service, program, or activity so that the service, program, or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The ADA does not require a public entity to take any action that it can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or result in undue financial and administrative burdens.
In those circumstances where personnel of the public entity believe that the proposed action would fundamentally alter the service, program, or activity or would result in undue financial and administrative burdens, the public entity has the burden of proving that compliance with § 35.150(a) of this part would result in such alteration or burdens.
The decision that compliance would result in such alteration or burdens must be made by the head of a public entity (in the case of a California Community College, either the College President or the District Board of Trustees) or his or her designee after considering all resources available for use in the funding and operation of the service, program, or activity and must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion.
If an action would result in such an alteration or such burdens, the ADA requires that the public entity shall take any other action that would not result in such an alteration or such burdens, but would nevertheless ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the benefits or services provided by the public entity.
In choosing alternate accommodations, the public entity must engage in an interactive process with the person requesting the accommodations and must:
- give preference to accommodations in the most integrated setting and;
- give weight/preference, whenever possible, to the type of accommodation requested.
In summary, for a college to claim undue burden, it must be prepared to prove compliance with these applicable provisions of the ADA and assume that burden. The claim must be made in writing by the head of the college, the claim must be made after considering all the resources available to the college (not only DSPS funds, but all college resources), and the alternate action proposed must be determined through an interactive process, directly involving the student.
It is recommended that each college work closely with their legal counsel, ADA Coordinator, supervisor of DSPS, College Administration and other experts on their campus before considering pursuing a claim of “undue burden.”
Q: How do I bridge the students’ capabilities with the required learning objectives when there are perceived accessibility challenges?
A: In answering this question, there are variables at play, including: 1) What is the learning objective of the course? 2) What is the user’s skill level with regard to using assistive technology?
What is the learning objective? It is important to factor in how the course is taught and the nature of the assignment, when determining how to accommodate an individual with a disability. For example, in an astronomy course being taken by a blind student, assignments could be made accessible by providing tactile graphics of star systems or other materials pertinent to the lesson/course.
What is the user’s skill level with regard to using assistive technology? Sometimes a user’s skill level with a given assistive technology tool is not adequate to access a course, no matter how accessible the course is. Refer the student to the DSPS office on your campus to help determine the user’s level of expertise and to acquire training, if necessary.
Q: To whom do I go for help?
A: It is important to know your campus. Every California community college has someone whose duties include training faculty to design accessible courses. This person’s title and department affiliation may vary from campus to campus. A common title is Alternate Media Technology Specialist. This position often resides in DSPS. A good place to start is with the supervisor of DSPS. Other resources may be the Distance Education Coordinator or Dean. The Vice President of Instruction or Student Services is also a possible resource to identify appropriate assistance. Again, know your campus!
Q: What are our college’s responsibilities regarding the accessibility of e-packs?
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each college to ensure that the electronic information they procure is accessible. It is important to get assurance from the e-pack’s publisher representative about its accessibility before making a purchase. Insist that the publisher representative send files to you in an accessible format. Putting pressure on publishers to make content accessible will help to motivate them to provide content that is accessible. Find out about the possibility of being able to use some parts of the e-pack and not others. An e-pack can be mostly text with a few graphics, a full Flash-based site with comprehensive graphics, and everything else in between.
Alternatively, you can modify the publisher files to make them accessible yourself (you may need permission first), create your own files, or not use an e-pack at all. You might also consider switching to a different textbook that uses an accessible e-pack.
Q: When I select a delivery method, how do I determine the accessibility of the tools I choose to teach the course?
A: One thing is certain: new exciting ways to present information electronically become available every day. It is our responsibility as educators to consider the ramifications for all students when making new technology purchases. However, as the instructor, you have many resources at your disposal. A good place to start in selecting those tools is with your supervisor of DSPS, Alternate Media Specialist, Faculty Resource Center, technology trainer, etc.
They often have answers or can provide resources based on your specific concerns (i.e., contact information for determining the accessibility of your learning management system, e-book, e-pack, etc.). There is no comprehensive solution for determining the accessibility of all electronic and information technology that is available.
Q: I send my students to many sites on the web. Am I responsible if those sites aren't accessible? What do I do if they are not accessible?
A: Required course materials must be provided in an accessible format. If third-party websites are used as required course materials and you cannot guarantee accessibility of the content, you must be prepared to provide accessible equivalent versions of the content for students with disabilities. It is your responsibility as faculty to conscientiously select course content and materials from external sources that are accessible.
Q: The graphics I use in my course are merely decorative? Do I really need to add alt labels to them?
A: Graphics that are used solely for background or decorative purposes should be labeled with the empty alt tag (where alt = ““). There is no space between the quotes in an empty alt tag.
Q: The files I upload into my course are mainly Microsoft Word, PowerPoint files, and also Adobe PDF files. Are those accessible?
A: In general, the safe answer is no. As of 2010, PowerPoint files are not accessible in their native format. The accessibility of Word and PDF depends on the complexity of the layout of each document. In order to help ensure accessibility of Microsoft and Adobe files, a good starting point is the training materials that are available on the High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU) web site at http://www.htctu.net.
Q: I uploaded my syllabus, which contains my course schedule in a table. Is that accessible?
A: Tables require some special attention to make them accessible. Depending on your authoring tools (HTML Editor, Word, Acrobat) and the media file format (doc, HTML, PDF), the procedures will vary. However, the concepts for creating accessible tables remain the same: header columns and rows must be added to help define the context of each table’s cell data. For more information about creating accessible tables, visit the High Tech Center Training Unit website: http://www.htctu.net.
Q: I use a lot of interactive Flash files as simulations. Are those accessible?
A: Flash files can be created in an accessible manner, as long as the content creator is deliberate about including accessibility throughout the authoring process. While it is possible to create accessible Flash-based information, it is not safe to make an assumption regarding the accessibility of Flash files in general. Each Flash file, whether created by you or someone else, must be considered as a separate entity in terms of determining accessibility. If they are not accessible – and if you want to continue using them – you or the creator will have to retrofit the files. Information about Flash accessibility can be found at http://www.adobe.com/accessibility, and at the High Tech Center Training Unit website: http://www.htctu.net
Q: I don't have time to caption or transcribe all of my videos and podcasts. How can I get help?
A: Talk to the person responsible for web accessibility on your campus. One resource is the DECT (Distance Education Captioning & Transcription) Grant provided for the CCCs. This grant will help to alleviate some costs for the captioning of digital audio and video files used in DE courses: http://www.canyons.edu/captioning
Q: My course is not a DE course. Do I still have to make my web materials accessible?
A: Yes. Any content placed on the web must be accessible. For that matter, any online materials that you require students to access, whether you are using a campus-hosted learning management system, your campus faculty web page, or a site that you are maintaining outside the scope of the college altogether, all materials must be accessible to your students.
Q: I am an adjunct instructor. Am I required to make my course accessible?
A: Yes, accessibility is not an optional consideration regardless of your position status. Consult your college’s Office of Instruction/Academic Affairs for more information about resources that may be available to help you make your courses accessible. Also, remember to consult the High Tech Center Training Unit for assistance with specific accessibility issues or questions at: http://www.htctu.net.
Q: What are the ramifications if my courses are not made accessible?
A: The ramification of not making a DE course accessible is that you become complicit in creating a culture of inaccessibility and discrimination vs. accessibility and Universal Design.
If your online materials are not accessible, there is a chance that a student with a disability could file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. That would likely trigger an investigation. If the OCR found that the student's complaint was valid, your institution would likely have to agree to some binding conditions as part of a costly resolution. Another possibility would be that a student might file a lawsuit and the college or district could be held liable for any damages awarded to the student.