Frequently Asked Questions

Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) at California State University Northridge:
Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty


What information can DRES share with me?

A student with a disability needs special accommodations in my classroom. I want to find out more about his disability, but I am uncomfortable talking directly with him. What information can Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) share with me?

If a student has indicated to a faculty member that he or she has a disability, counselors in the DRES department can verify that the student has a disability, but DRES will not discuss the diagnosis without permission.

Counselors may also share information about the accommodations approved for the student. Faculty members may obtain more detailed information if the student has signed a waiver allowing counselors to discuss functional limitations that accompany the disability and the specifics of his or her diagnosis.

Am I responsible for finding a note taker?

A student has informed me that they need a note taker for my course. Am I responsible for finding a note taker?

Students registered with DRES who receive shared notes as an accommodation are responsible for managing the online notetaker application process. Notetakers for DRES must be students registered in the same course.

Most students will find a reliable notetaker independently, but some will ask faculty for assistance. If that is the case, it is appropriate for the faculty member to make a general announcement in class asking for volunteers to share their notes with another student. Below is a sample of an announcement that can be used in class or via email to help identify a volunteer from a course.

“I am looking for a volunteer to share their notes with a student in this class. If designated as the notetaker, you will be eligible for early registration during next semester (or provided with a gift card during Winter/Summer terms). Your assistance would be deeply appreciated. If you are interested, please see me after class so I can introduce you to the student who needs the notes.”

Once an individual has volunteered, simply ask him or her to stay after class to connect with the student. Following these steps will not only assist the student in need of a notetaker, but also helps maintain confidentiality.

Who is eligible for exam accommodations, and who determines the accommodations students receive?

Who is eligible for exam accommodations, and who determines the accommodations students receive? What if I object to the accommodations because it will gives students an unfair advantage?

Students with disabilities who have functional limitations that would impact their ability to take exams may be eligible for accommodations. The most common accommodations are the use of a reader or scribe and extended time. While it may sometimes seem that students with disabilities have an advantage in testing arrangements, each accommodation is carefully considered by a counselor and supported by the documentation of their disability. Accommodations are provided to ensure that a student's performance on an exam is representative of his or her mastery of the subject and not his or her disability.

The student must request testing or academic accommodations each semester through the Student Access and Accommodation System (SAAS). Accommodations are not given in a blanket manner for all exams. Accommodations may be required on a written exam, for example, that may not be required in an oral testing situation. For that reason, the student, faculty member and DRES counselor must all work in partnership to ensure students accommodations for each course.

May I proctor exams myself?

I don’t want my students to take their exams at DRES. May I proctor exams myself?

Yes. DRES offers test proctoring as a service to faculty and students. However, as long as students are provided with the approved accommodations, a faculty member may proctor the exam. In this case, the course profile is not required through SAAS. The faculty member and the DRES student can arrange the location, date and time of the exam.

What is a learning disability, and why do students with this disability receive accommodations?

I sometimes have students who expect me to lower standards because they have a learning disability and do not appear to grasp material in the classroom. I teach a difficult course and many students have difficulty grasping the material. What is a learning disability, and why do students with this disability receive accommodations?

Learning disability refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders that may result in difficulties with listening, speaking, reading, writing or reasoning. While the exact cause of a learning disability is unknown, it is presumed to be the result of central nervous system dysfunctions. Persons diagnosed with a learning disability are of average to superior intelligence.

Students with learning disabilities are taught compensatory strategies to assist them in mastering academic material and are provided accommodations so they have a chance to perform at an equal level. Common accommodations include extended time on examinations, use of a calculator or spell-checker, and a quiet room in which to take exams. When students meet with DRES counselors, they are informed that modification of academic standards is not a reasonable accommodation required by law.

If a student with a disability is disruptive, do I need to excuse the behavior?

In the past, I had a student with a disability in my class who was very disruptive. He told me he was late as a result of his disability and there was nothing I could do about it. He also interrupted my class lectures and group work; when reprimanded, he told me he was protected by the law. Is that true?

All students, regardless of disability status, are required to meet the provisions of the CSUN Student Conduct Code and the academic expectations outlined in the course syllabus. Students are expected to behave civilly, attend class and participate appropriately.

The law requires reasonable accommodations, but faculty members are not required to modify academic standards to accommodate inappropriate or disruptive behavior. Faculty members have jurisdiction over academic matters, such as class attendance, tardiness and due dates for assignments.

May I email exams to DRES?

Yes. Exams can be emailed directly to the alternative testing coordinator at alternative.testing@csun.edu.