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Home > Student Services > Disabled Students (DSPS) > FAQ’s for Prospective DSPS Students

FAQ’s for Prospective DSPS Students

How do I register for my classes at OCC?

Once priority registration begins June 15th, you must log in to your MyOcc portal to register for your classes.  The following pdf document “Online Course Registration.pdf” has step-by-step directions. If needed, you may schedule a DSPS Counseling appointment to develop your Fall 2020 class schedule.

Who is responsible for obtaining documentation of a disability?

The student.  Colleges are not required to conduct or pay for an evaluation to document a student's disability and need for accommodation.  However, some colleges do conduct limited assessments for certain services.  If a student is eligible for the Department of Rehabilitation Services, they may qualify for an evaluation at no cost.

Will a student receive the same services that he/she received in high school?

Not necessarily -there are many differences. High School Special Education programs are legally required to provide whatever service, accommodation, or modification that is needed to be successful. Colleges, on the other hand, are required by law to provide “equal access” to education. Access is provided through reasonable accommodations. Furthermore, the college course curriculum cannot be modified to alter the fundamental nature of the course.

What kind of accommodations can a student receive?

Each student must complete a DSPS Intake appointment with a DSPS Counselor to establish eligible services with DSPS. Academic Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case individualized basis according to the student’s verified disability. 

Can a student use a 504 Plan or IEP for documentation of a disability?

It depends. If a student has a learning disability then he/she needs to bring a copy of his/her most recent full psycho-educational assessment report that includes testing scores from their high school evaluation. For medical, psychological, and other health-related disabilities (including ADHD), the IEP or 504 plan must specifically state the disability diagnosis. We encourage students to have their Licensed Certified Professional (e.g. M.D., Psychologist, Psychiatrist) to complete our disability verification form to have the most recent documentation on file.

What is the ‘DSPS Accommodation Letter”?

This letter is created by your DSPS Counselor during/upon completion of your DSPS Intake appointment. The DSPS Accommodation Letter must be provided to your instructor(s) at the beginning of each semester if you intend to use your accommodations for their class.

What if a student has low reading and writing abilities?

OCC has several levels of pre-collegiate reading and writing classes. Work with your DSPS Counselor to determine which classes are best to take in an effort to prepare you for college-level coursework in Math & English.

Our DSPS Learning Center offers basic skills support classes in the areas of writing, mathematics, spelling/reading, and grammar.

In the event that OCC’s campus remains closed for Fall 2020 and courses are only offered online, what do I do?

We recommend that you discuss this possibility with your DSPS Counselor and how to best prepare. This may include considerations for the amount and/or type of classes taken, introduction to general online-coursework etiquette and expectations, discussion about specific accommodations for online-coursework, etc.

Are students required to inform the college that they have a disability?

No.  However, if the student requires accommodations, then they must disclose this information to the DSPS program. Whether or not the student requires immediate accommodations, it is highly recommended that students with disabilities register for services with the DSPS department before the start of each semester. This may reduce the wait time when they do find that they need accommodations for a certain class.  

How long will it take for a student to get a degree or certificate?

The length of time to earn a degree or certificate depends on many factors. These may include if pre-collegiate classes are needed first, whether or not the student passes attempted classes, how many courses are required for the certificate, major or degree, whether the student attends part-time or full-time, transfer major requirements, and other factors.  DSPS counselors work with each student so he/she is neither overloaded (making success difficult) nor taking too few classes (extending the time to finish unnecessarily). Only a few students entering from high school complete a degree or are transfer-ready in four semesters.  Many require three or more years. You may work with your DSPS Counselor during your second semester to develop a semester-by-semester “comprehensive educational plan” that incorporates all course/unit requirements for your specific academic goal.

Does OCC have a special education program?

No. All California Community Colleges have a disability services department (usually named “DSPS”) instead of a special education program.  However, the college offers credit, remedial classes and academic support through the DSPS Learning Center & Adapted Kinesiology program. These classes may not count toward graduation. There is also assistance in the Student Success Center (SSC) for students who have lower basic writing and math skills.

What does it mean to “advocate” for oneself in college?

It means speaking up for yourself and communicating your needs to others, such as your DSPS Counselor and professors. Part of gaining independence and transitioning to college means becoming a “self-advocate”.

How do I request to use my DSPS test or note-taking accommodation?

Students choosing to utilize their pre-approved testing accommodations must first notify their instructor of their accommodations via Accommodation Letter. After your instructor has been notified, it is then the students' responsibility to complete an online Alternate Test Request form to take their exams in the DSPS office. All exams must be scheduled at least seven days in advance. We strongly encourage you to schedule all of your exams at the beginning of the semester.

Students choosing to utilize their notetaking accommodation must first notify their instructor of their accommodations via their Accommodation Letter. The student will then discuss with their instructor on how they are able to provide or assist them with receiving this accommodation. This is especially important, as the instructor might already provide lecture notes on Canvas or they can assist DSPS with finding a volunteer notetaker in their class. Once the student has communicated with their instructor, then they must complete an online Alternate Notes Request form. DSPS will then email the students in the whole class in search of a volunteer notetaker.

Once a notetaking volunteer has been secured in your class, DSPS will email you a link to access our DSPS Notes Google Drive. It is each student's responsibility to notify DSPS and/or the DSPS Test/Note Taking Coordinator Amy Mendoza at if you have not received notes within 2 weeks of submitting your request form.

How often should I meet with my DSPS Counselor?

The DSPS program recommends that you meet with your DSPS Counselor at least 1x per semester - at minimum. It is very common for students to have more than 1 counseling meeting per semester. DSPS students may need to update their educational plan, obtain referrals for tutoring, develop class-schedules, discuss accommodations, consult about career decision making & career/major exploration, etc. DSPS students can schedule a counseling appointment by calling the DSPS front office at (714) 432-5807.

What if a student is not doing well in a class?

It is the student's responsibility to try to ascertain why he/she is not doing well, usually by analyzing his/her own work or talking with the professor.  It is hoped students who receive D's or F's early in the term will immediately attempt to figure out why, and if necessary meet with their DSPS counselor for further discussion and intervention.  Tutors may be available through the Student Success Center, different accommodations may be appropriate, or the material may be too advanced for the student, in which case the class may need to be dropped, and a more basic class attempted the next semester.

If I don’t have a laptop or WIFI off campus, where can I find access?

Students can be loaned a laptop/WIFI through the Student Equity Program, which a DSPS Counselor can help to facilitate.

Can students be tested for a Learning Disability while the campus is closed?

No. At the moment, testing can only be conducted in person given its nature. However, check with DSPS periodically for updates. Students are able to make an appointment with a DSPS Counselor for an informational meeting in the meantime.