Frequently Asked Questions

I am a faculty member and I suspect one of my students has a disability. What should I do?

If you suspect one of your students has a disability, please feel free to refer them to our office. If you would like assistance with wording or how to approach the student, please feel free to contact our office to speak to one of our specialists. You will find more information specifically for faculty members in our Faculty section.

Will I know what disability a student has? Will the diagnosis be shared with me?

No. Due to confidentiality and privacy concerns, SDS shares accommodations only. It is up to a student if they want to voluntarily disclose their diagnosis. We do not recommend asking the student.

How does attendance flexibility work? Does this mean my student does not have to come to class?

Often students have a disability that can flare up, without any warning, causing them to miss class. We do not tell students they can have unlimited absences. We talk at length with students about this accommodation, and explain that it is to be used for disability flare ups as needed and does not allow them to miss unlimited classes. Students are advised that the accommodation requires communication with the professor. We instruct students to meet with their professors about this accommodation right away. We have tutorials and videos to assist students with how to us this accommodation as well as how to talk to their professors about it.

Are students required to register at the beginning of the semester?

No. While it is our policy to strongly encourage students to register at the beginning of the semester, or upon onset of their disability, the law allows students to register with our office whenever they like. While many students may find accommodations to be most useful if they register at the beginning of the semester, they are not required to do so.

Are we setting students up for failure by accommodating them here when they may not get accommodations in the “real world”?

The Section 504 regulation of the Rehabilitation Act requires a college to modify its academic requirements as necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability against a qualified student with a disability. The purpose of SDS is to provide accommodations to students specifically during their time at USF. Additionally, while it may seem logical to compare the classroom/learning environment with what the students would encounter or experience in the workplace, the law treats them as two distinct and separate settings, and they cannot be compared.

Is SDS over diagnosing learning disabilities?

SDS staff do not diagnose students. We carefully review submitted medical documentation and interview students to determine appropriate accommodations. SDS staff also play no role in the admission process, as it is illegal to make inquiries as to students’ disability status prior to admission to USF.

What do I do if I have behavior problems in my classroom?

A student’s disability does not excuse inappropriate behavior. If your requests to the student to change behavior are not working, you should contact the Office of Student Conduct Rights and Responsibilities (OSCRR) at x5330 to file an Incident Report. If you are concerned for your or other individuals' safety, you should immediately contact Public Safety at x2911. If you need to report student behavior that is concerning, erratic or otherwise disruptive but that does not constitute an emergency please contact the Office of the Dean of Students at x5330.

It doesn’t appear as if my student has a disability, yet they have accommodations. Why is this?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Approximately 80% of disabilities are not visible.And there are many disabilities that are not obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations, and vary from person to person. We should never assume a person does not have a disability just because it “appears” as if they do not.

I am an employee at USF, how can I receive accommodations?

Please contact Human Resources at (415) 422-6707.

Does SDS have a code of ethics?

Yes. Our office uses the AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability) Code of Ethics as our standard for practice.