SDS Student Handbook

This handbook provides a comprehensive overview of our policies, procedures, and services offered through Student Disability Services. This handbook and the policies and practices contained herein supersede any and all previous policies and practices and may be subject to change at any time.  

The SDS student handbook is also available as a printable PDF. If you have any questions or would prefer the handbook in an alternative format, please contact us.

The University of San Francisco (USF) is committed to providing equal educational opportunity and full participation for qualified persons with disabilities. It is the University’s policy that no qualified person be excluded from participating in any University program or activity, be declined the benefits of any University program or activity, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination with regard to any University program or activity.

The University of San Francisco is committed to the full participation of all students. Student Disability Services (SDS) recognizes disability as a valued aspect of diversity and works to facilitate equal access and an inclusive environment for students with disabilities.  

Guided by Universal Design we suggest accommodations for USF students with disabilities to help achieve their goals. We strive to empower the community to acquire and develop the knowledge, skills, values, and sensitivity to become persons for and with others. 

SDS functions to determine eligibility for services based on disability status. Disability specialists determine reasonable accommodations and services through a collaborative process between the student, faculty, and SDS staff. SDS strives to empower each student to become as independent as possible. Our services are designed to encourage independence, backed by a comprehensive system of supports.

In order to foster self-advocacy skills, students are expected to articulate their accommodation needs directly to faculty and administrators. If requested, SDS staff will notify faculty verifying the student’s eligibility for services and recommended accommodations. In instances where the student requests are met with questions or concerns regarding provision or appropriateness of the recommended accommodations, SDS staff will communicate directly with faculty. Students are expected to adhere to all published deadlines, procedures, and policies for the provision of services.

All students attending USF, whether or not they have a disability, typically face challenges associated with attending a selective and competitive university in an urban setting. Students with disabilities at USF must be able to function as independently as possible and to seek appropriate assistance in a reasonable and timely manner. University resources and staff cannot meet all of a student’s needs associated with managing a disability. USF students with disabilities must follow appropriate health regimens (e.g., medication compliance) secure appropriate medical and therapeutic assistance from qualified practitioners, and arrange necessary personal services (e.g., transportation, individual monitoring of needs, financial assistance, personal care) that USF does not provide.

Qualified students with disabilities who are provided reasonable accommodations must be able to function in their academic and residential environments. They must meet the requirements and expectations of their academic programs, follow established guidelines and procedures for securing and remaining in residential living spaces, and adhere to the University’s student conduct and discipline codes.

The University of San Francisco, in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws and university policy, does not discriminate on the basis of disability.

Equal educational opportunity is required by federal and state law, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, the California State Unruh Civil Rights Act, and California Civil Code Sections 54 through 55.2. Under federal law, a person with a disability is one who: 1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; 2) has a record of such impairment; 3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

Individuals seeking reasonable accommodations for academic programs should contact the SDS office.

All students with disabilities who are interested in attending USF must complete the regular admission process prior to accessing SDS services.

Any otherwise qualified student with a documented disability may be eligible to receive services from SDS. In order to access SDS services, a student must (a) be either currently enrolled at USF or admitted to USF and about to attend; and (b) complete the intake and registration process, which includes: completing an online registration form and presenting appropriate, current documentation supporting the student’s status as a qualified individual with a disability and their need for accommodation.

The purpose of accommodations is to reduce or eliminate any disadvantages that may exist because of an individual’s disability. The law does not require USF to waive specific courses or academic requirements considered essential to a particular program or degree. Modifications that do not fundamentally alter a course or program are made on a case-by-case basis. Students who want to access services must self-identify and provide appropriate verification of their disability. Eligibility for reasonable accommodations will be determined on an individual basis.

During the intake and registration process, the student will participate in an individualized assessment based upon the student’s expressed needs and the documentation of disability the student presents. Determination of reasonable accommodations is an interactive process between the student, the faculty, and SDS. A specialist will work with the student to develop a reasonable accommodation plan.

In order to qualify for services and accommodations, a student must provide appropriate documentation of the student’s disability to SDS. SDS will maintain a copy of these records for seven (7) years after the student has left the university. Appropriate documentation will assist in determining reasonable accommodations.

As part of the intake process, students will be asked to sign an Permission to Disclose Information form (see Appendix A: Permission to Disclose Information) or Permission to Request Information form (see Appendix B: Permission to Request Information) allowing their SDS specialist to communicate with the student’s evaluator and/or physician, should there be any need for clarification. Documentation must be recent enough to demonstrate the current need for reasonable accommodations. The description of functional limitations provided in the documentation must specifically state how the disability and/or related medications or treatments substantially limit current participation in courses, programs, services, or activities of the university. The cost of obtaining appropriate documentation is the responsibility of the student. If the documentation is incomplete or inadequate to support a request for accommodation, additional documentation may be required. In such cases, the cost of providing any additional documentation will be the student’s responsibility.

Different disabilities require different forms of documentation. There are specific requirements for documenting physical impairments (e.g., orthopedic, visual, hearing), psychological disabilities, temporary disabilities, and chronic illnesses, (see Appendix C: Physical, Psychological, Temporary, Chronic Impairment Documentation Guidelines). In some cases it may be acceptable for students with such disabilities to submit the appropriate SDS Verification of Disability Form (see Appendix D: Verification of Disability Form). There are also specific requirements for documenting learning disabilities (see Appendix E: Learning Disability Documentation Guidelines and Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (see Appendix F: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) Documentation Guidelines). An Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Summary of Performance (SOP) or 504 Plan may also contain valuable information.

Student SDS files are confidential and are not part of a student’s educational record (as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)) at USF. Information about a student’s disability is not shared with anyone without the student’s written consent, except on a need-to-know basis as defined by FERPA.

Often, students disclose their disability status directly to SDS, but sometimes students may disclose directly to the student’s faculty and/or request specific accommodations from them. However, in order to receive academic accommodations, students must identify themselves directly to SDS as a student with a disability. If a student discloses their disability to faculty and/or requests academic accommodations from them, the faculty should refer the student to SDS for reasonable accommodation eligibility determination. Faculty members are not required to honor a student’s accommodation request before they receive reasonable accommodation eligibility verification from SDS. Requests for accommodations must be made in a timely manner so that appropriate evaluation of and planning for the request can take place, including consultation between SDS and faculty/staff if necessary. Faculty and staff are not responsible for retroactively accommodating a student who has not previously disclosed a disability and made a request through SDS for an accommodation in a timely fashion.

Students who complete the intake and eligibility process are advised to submit a request every semester to notify their faculty of his or her eligibility for reasonable accommodations. Students need not disclose the specific nature of his or her disability to faculty. Students are advised against sharing documentation directly with faculty, as faculty are not required to be knowledgeable about disability regulations and accommodation options. As such, faculty are not responsible for interpreting, evaluating, or responding to disability documentation.

SDS assists students in obtaining reasonable accommodations and auxiliary aids. SDS also provides assistance with issues related to on-campus housing, accessibility, transportation services, and advocacy. Academic accommodations for qualified students may include, but are not limited to: extended testing time, interpreters, notetaking services, scribes, alternative media formats for coursework, and assistive technology services.

SDS also assists students in arranging services not required by law, on a case-by-case basis and as resources allow, as a part of a comprehensive program. Such services may include learning skills assistance, support groups and referral services.

The following accommodations are available:

  1. Accessibility to Programs/Facilities: To request an accommodation for a University-sponsored program or event, please contact the department responsible for the event at least 14 days in advance.
  2. Access to Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Devices:
    • SDS may loan assistive technology and other equipment to individual students, as available. Students eligible for this service must complete an Equipment Agreement Form (See Appendix H: Equipment Agreement Form) before borrowing any equipment.
    • Computer lab rooms in both Gleeson Library and Zief Library contains adaptive technology.
    • A student needing to use adaptive technology to complete exams will need to use one of the versions of USF licensed software. SDS has a limited number of laptops with this software installed.
    • Software available includes comprehensive screen reading programs (e.g. Read & Write Gold, Kurzweil, and JAWS), text-to-speech (e.g. Dragon Naturally Speaking, narrative function and other accessibility features built into operating systems). Other available software may be recommended on a case-by-case basis. Please contact your specialist to see which version is currently being used by the University.
  3. Alternate Media: See Section on Alternate Media Policy
  4. Attendant Care: SDS does not provide attendant care for students, although SDS does assist students in securing additional housing space for certified attendants if necessary. It is the student’s responsibility to secure the services of certified attendant care and make all necessary arrangements, including payment for such services. SDS will assist a student’s certified attendant in accessing housing, dining, and entry to university buildings, as appropriate.
  5. Digital Recording of Classes: Students with a documented need to digitally record a class may request permission from their instructors with the Recording Lectures Agreement Form (See Appendix I: Recording Lectures Agreement Form). SDS will also notify a faculty member recommending this reasonable accommodation. If a faculty member objects or raises confidentiality or copyright concerns regarding this practice, SDS will work with the student to develop an equally effective reasonable accommodation alternative to recording the lecture.
  6. Alternative Media Formats: Students with a documented need for alternative media formats for their course documents must first meet with their disability specialist to determine that alternative formats are a reasonable and appropriate accommodation. Students who are eligible for this service must request this service every semester in a timely fashion. Please refer to the Alternative Media Formats Policy for more information.
  7. Course Substitutions: Course substitutions may be reasonable accommodations for some students with disabilities, provided that 1) documentation of disability clearly supports any request for substitution and 2) the essential requirements of the University’s program are not compromised. Student requests for course substitutions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  8. Equipment Loan: See “Access to Special Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Devices”
  9. Examination Accommodations: See Section on “Accommodated Exam Policy”
  10. Attendance Modification and Assignment Extensions: Requests for attendance modification and assignment extensions are evaluated on case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the disability, the essential requirements of the course, and any reasonable alternatives.
    • The accommodation of attendance modification or assignment completion dates must be an appropriate response to a disability-related need without compromising academic standards or fundamentally altering the curriculum. Thus, this accommodation may not be reasonable in courses where participation is essential, where the student is supposed to be gaining a given number of hours of experience within a specified time period, where skills are taught and evaluated sequentially, where the nature of the program is an accelerated one (e.g. School of Management) or where ongoing feedback is provided. Other options such as taking an incomplete or withdrawing from the course may be more appropriate alternatives in some cases.
  11. Housing Accommodations: SDS collaborates with Student Housing in providing appropriate reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities who live on campus. These accommodations are made on the basis of availability, and must be made as far in advance as possible or upon onset of disability.
  12. Interpreting/CART Services: Depending on the nature of a student's hearing disability, SDS may provide a Sign Language Interpreter or Computer Assisted Real-Time Translation (CART). A Sign Language Interpreter or CART may be provided for any activity directly related for a student's academic program. Students requesting this accommodation must contact their Disability Specialist as soon as possible to discuss eligibility for these accommodations. Students must request Sign Language Interpreting or CART services for a specific class or event in a timely manner to ensure availability. Students may receive a transcript from the CART provider in a timely manner after the event.
    • Students are required to notify SDS if they are unable to attend class so that the interpreter/reporter may be cancelled for the day. If students do not notify SDS in a timely manner, this accommodation may be subject to review or suspension. Students are also responsible for notifying SDS if Sign Language or CART service is not satisfactory, or to discuss any other concerns.
  13. Laboratory Assistants: Student lab assistants may be provided to students as part of a reasonable accommodation, to assist with physical manipulations on the lab when appropriate. This service must be requested and reviewed by SDS and the student on a case-by-case basis.
  14. Learning Specialists: SDS provides learning specialists to assist students in developing compensatory learning skills and strategies. Learning specialists assist students with the development of appropriate study, note taking, and time management skills to help students improve their writing, organizational, and study skills.
  15. Faculty Notification Letters: A student may request that SDS notify his or her faculty of his or her recommended reasonable accommodations. The letter states that the student is registered with SDS, although the specific nature of the disability is not discussed (See Appendix G: Sample Faculty Notification Letter). Students are encouraged to follow up directly with faculty about their requested accommodations. Accommodations outlined in the letter may require further consultation among SDS, the faculty, and the student. In these cases, the nature and extent of the accommodations originally recommended may be altered.
  16. Notetaking Services: SDS may recommend that a student with a qualifying disability be permitted the use of a notetaker for in-class lectures as a reasonable accommodation. Students qualifying for the use of a notetaker must submit a notetaking request online before receiving this accommodation through the SDS office. This request must be submitted every semester. The appropriateness of a notetaker must be discussed with the student’s disability specialist each semester and for each class in which a note taker is desired. Notetakers are hired per class and not per student. Once a notetaker has been hired for a class, the requesting student will be notified and can expect to obtain notes at least once a week. The requesting student will alert the Notetaking Services Coordinator if they are not receiving their notes in a satisfactory manner. If students fail to use their notetaking accommodation appropriately, they may be in jeopardy of losing their notetaking accommodation. Any questions or concerns about notetaking procedures and policies should be directed to the Notetaking Services Coordinator.
  17. Reduced Course Load: Students with disabilities with or without reasonable accommodations are expected to complete the same course and credit load and meet the same graduation requirements as students without disabilities. However, in some cases, less than full time enrollment may be a reasonable accommodation.
  18. Scribing Services: Student scribes may be provided to students with disabilities as part of a reasonable accommodation during exams or for homework assignments, as appropriate. This service must be requested by the student and reviewed by SDS and the student each semester and on a case-by-case basis.
  19. Support Groups/Workshops: SDS periodically offers support groups and/or workshops for students with similar types of disability or for students with similar disability-related issues (e.g., career planning, advocacy skills improvement). Participation in any support group or workshop is voluntary and confidential.
  20. Transportation: Accessible campus transportation services are available to students with disabilities that make navigating the campus terrain difficult. Eligibility for this service is determined by SDS and the student. Transportation is provided by the Department of Public Safety. Students who feel they are in need of this service should alert SDS as soon as they are aware of their need, or if their needs change. Students with disabilities may be eligible for a USF Campus Parking Permit as an accommodation if they have a valid Temporary or Permanent Disability Placard from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  21. Tutorial Services: Applicable Federal and State disability laws do not require funding for tutorial services. Provision of tutoring is determined on a case-by-case basis, as resources allow.
  22. Classroom Relocation: Classroom locations may be relocated by the university registrar if necessary as a reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities. The location of the class may be moved if it is inaccessible and provides a barrier to the student’s equal access to their education. Classrooms will not be moved if the location of the course is considered a fundamental alteration to the course (e.g. some labs and classrooms with health and safety equipment may not be moved). A course may be assigned to a different classroom or building when a student's disability impacts their ability to physically get themselves to the class by the class start time. A course may also be moved if the student's classroom is placed in a building that is physically inaccessible (i.e. broken elevators, broken wheelchair lifts, no accessible parking available, etc). Once a student is deemed eligible for classroom relocation as an accommodation, we recommend the following:
    • The student must make the request known to their disability specialist within 48 hours of registering for a class if they need to request a new location. Specialists can be notified via email or during in-person appointment 
    • Timely requests for classroom relocation is necessary as this process affects different departments, schools, colleges and other classroom assignments Therefore, classroom relocation can take up to 4 weeks to facilitate, and we urge students to notify SDS as soon as possible upon registering for classes.
    • SDS cannot guarantee that the classroom will be moved 
    • Students who are eligible for this accommodation are strongly encouraged to consider their access needs and all sections of classes offered, prior to registering for classes
    • All students who would like to request classroom relocation as an accommodation must go through the SDS intake and eligibility process to determine if such an accommodation is appropriate and reasonable.
    • If a classroom cannot be relocated, SDS will work with the student, faculty member, the registrar’s office & other invested stakeholders to determine options and next steps to ensure equal access for the student.
  23. Auxiliary Aids: Please see Appendix L: Auxiliary Aides and Services Definitions for a list of definitions of Auxiliary Aides and Services.
  1. Eligibility for this service is determined by SDS and is based in part on the disability documentation provided by the student.
  2. Receiving materials in alternative format as an accommodation will be considered and determined each semester in collaboration between the SDS staff and the student.
  3. Alternate media requests must be submitted by the student each semester.
  4. Students requesting material in alternative formats must own a physical copy of the textbook or other course material, and provide SDS with a copy of the itemized receipt before the alternate media will be distributed. It is recommended that the student purchase a new copy of the textbook, rather than a used or electronic copy.
  5. SDS will determine the media format for each text. Although consideration will be given to the format requested by each student, if SDS considers the requested format unreasonable, one of the other formats will be used.
  6. Alternative format requests for texts must be submitted to SDS as soon as the student is aware of his or her need. SDS will make a reasonable effort to process these requests within 3 weeks from date of the request submission; however turnaround times for alternative format requests are determined on a case-by-case basis. Upon review of material to be formatted and converted, the SDS office will notify the student of the projected completion date. Late requests will be honored provided that the student making the request understands that the SDS office will set the timeline for the completion of the work accordingly. The same guidelines stand for course materials submitted throughout the semester.
  7. Alternative format requests for materials provided by the faculty throughout the semester must be submitted immediately after the student receives the material. Students should speak with their faculty at the beginning of each semester about these types of materials and each faculty member’s responsibility to comply with the deadlines, outlined in the Faculty and Staff Responsibilities section in the notification letter sent to faculty.
  8. Students will be provided with one alternative format copy for each material required for academic use. The student may not copy or reproduce any material provided by SDS, (Fair Use Act excepted) nor allow anyone else to do so. Misuse of this material may result in disciplinary action by the University. These actions will be treated as copyright infringement and/or theft and dealt with in the same manner as laid out in the Fogcutter’s Summary of Copyright, Photocopy and Media Reproduction Policy under the Non-Academic Student Conduct Code.
  9. USF faculty members who expect students with disabilities to have access to and knowledge of standard print materials must submit these materials to SDS ten (10) working days before their initial intended use.
  10. Student questions regarding the provision of alternative media formats should be addressed directly to SDS staff at (415) 422-2613 or

USF is committed to compliance with state and federal laws regarding individuals with disabilities. Student Disability Services (SDS) is committed to supporting students who require a services animal. The following is a guide for students who request the presence of a service animal on campus.

What is a service animal? A service animal is a dog (or in some cases a miniature horse) that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

The work or task that the service animal performs must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples include assisting individuals with low vision and alerting individuals who are hearing impaired. Service animals may also be needed to pull a wheelchair, retrieve items such as medicine or a telephone, recognize and assist during seizures, and prevent or interrupt compulsive or destructive behavior.

Animals whose presence provide emotional support, companionship or comfort but are not individually trained to do work or tasks in response to an individual's disability are not considered service animals. See USF's policy on Assistance Animals, if you feel you have a disability and believe you require an assistance animal (commonly referred to as an Emotional Support Animal or ESA) for emotional support or comfort.

Service animals are exempted from the University’s policy of no animals on campus and are allowed in all places of public accommodation. This includes campus buildings, residence halls, and anywhere on campus they are needed to assist an individual with a disability to participate in educational programs and other campus activities.

Service animals must be under effective control at all times and cannot harm or threaten others in the campus community; including faculty, staff, students and guests. Consistent with federal and state law, a service animal may be prohibited from university facilities or programs if the animal’s behavior or presence poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The animal may also be excluded from areas where its presence fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity, if the animal is disruptive, if its presence would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others, or if it substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of housing or public accommodation by others. Service animals must be housebroken and cleaned up after. Animals may only relieve themselves in designated areas as defined by Facilities Management.

Students who are approved to have a service animal on campus are strongly encouraged to register with SDS.

USF is committed to compliance with state and federal laws regarding individuals with disabilities. The following is a guide for students who request the presence of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), as defined by applicable law, in their campus residence. USF abides by both state and federal law regarding its housing policies, including the following:

Under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, “individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep an ESA as a reasonable accommodation in housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or prohibitions on animals. The ESA must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual's disability and the assistance the animal provides.”

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s, which are defined under the Fair Housing Act, provide necessary emotional support to individuals with disabilities, and alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability, who have established the need for such an animal. ESAs are not required to have special training for work or tasks. The regulations permitting ESAs pertain only to on-campus residential living facilities. ESAs are not permitted in non-residential facilities including but not limited to academic buildings, offices, and classrooms.

Service animals, which are generally limited to dogs, are defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act and have special training to provide services or tasks for individuals with disabilities. Unlike ESAs, they are allowed to accompany the individual with a disability in public places. If you require a service animal, please refer to the separate guidelines “Service Animals for Students with Disabilities.”

There are three requirements that need to be met in evaluating a request for an ESA. First, you need to establish that you have a disability that limits you in one or more major life activities as defined under state and federal law. Individuals who do not have a disability are not eligible for an ESA. Second, the animal must be necessary to afford you with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy your campus residence. Third, you need to provide information that demonstrates why an ESA is a reasonable accommodation for your disability. In other words, there needs to be an identifiable connection between your disability and the assistance the animal provides.

Student Disability Services (SDS) recommends you provide information from a medical professional, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, or another person who is qualified to diagnose and assess your disability. They should be familiar with you and able to identify the major life activity or activities in which you experience a limitation or limitations. These healthcare professionals should also describe the connection between your disability and your need for an ESA, and describe how the ESA is of benefit. However, SDS will also consider information from other sources.

If your disability is not considered permanent, you may need to reapply each academic year for continued permission to have an ESA.

What rules and expectations pertain to ESAs? There are some rules that apply to ESAs, and failure to follow them can result in the loss of permission to keep an ESA in your residence. The rules include:

  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s must comply with state and local animal regulations, including license and vaccination requirements depending on the type of animal. This includes animals from other countries as long as they meet any customs/federal regulations concerning animals entering the U.S. Students must have current vaccination and health records on file with Student Housing.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s should be under effective control at all times and may not pose a danger or threat to the health or safety of other students, staff, faculty or guests.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s cannot fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s programs, activities or operations.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s cannot create a nuisance to or distract from other students' use of the residence. Residence halls are places of study, so animals must not make excessive noise or cause disruption.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s need to be kept in clean, sanitary, and safe conditions. This responsibility falls on the student and the university assumes no liability for the animal. All animals must be properly cared for which includes food, medical treatment, clean living space, etc. Abuse and neglect of animals may result in a formal complaint and possibly ultimate removal from your campus residence.
  • Students are responsible for complying with all applicable laws and regulations concerning their Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s, including vaccination, licensure, leash control laws, cleanup rules, and animal health.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s do not require a deposit, but you are responsible for costs associated with any damage caused by your Emotional Support Animal (ESA). Damage includes pests (fleas, ticks) and additional wear and tear on carpets, furniture, and university property.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s are not permitted general access to campus areas other than your residence. Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s may use a designated area to relieve themselves provided they are under effective owner control at all times.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s may not be left in the care of another residential student overnight and/or during university breaks. Alternative arrangements must be arranged.
  • Owners are responsible for properly containing and disposing of all animal waste. Indoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and tied securely before disposing of in an outside trash receptacle. Outdoor animal waste, such as dog feces, must be immediately retrieved by the owner, placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied before disposing of in an outside trash receptacle.
  • Owners must ensure that preventative measures should be taken at all times for flea and odor control. Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene to Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s. As per housing policy, Student Housing staff inspect residential rooms during winter break and upon student move-out. If fleas or ticks are detected, the unit will be treated using an approved method and the resident will be billed for the expense.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s are not allowed to go on university-sponsored international trips. Many countries do not have similar disability laws to the U.S., and the laws regarding Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s pertain only to U.S. housing accommodations and may not necessarily extend to other countries.
  • Students who are approved to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) on campus must sign an agreement with SDS, which will be on file with the SDS Office and Student Housing. The agreement will incorporate the rules and expectations with caring for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)s on campus. It will also provide an emergency contact and will name a person responsible for the animal should the student be unable to take care of the animal.

If a student fails to comply with the policies above, then Student Housing will investigate any complaints or concerns. If non-compliance with policies continues, the issue will be referred to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities (OSCRR) for proceedings under the Student Conduct Code. OSCRR will determine whether sanctions include the removal of the animal. If a student needs accommodations during the conduct hearing process they should contact their disability specialist. 

SDS has various programs and opportunities designed to enrich and supplement the student’s overall University experience. Assistance with employment and community outreach opportunities as well as recreational and group support activities are available. For more information students are urged to contact their disability specialist.

Any student has the right to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. The office will investigate and issue a Letter of Findings either supporting the student or the institution. To file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, please contact:

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
50 Beale Suite 7200
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 486-5555
Fax: (415) 486-5570

Retaliation against any persons filing a complaint is prohibited under state and federal law.

Rights and Responsibilities

Every qualified student with a documented disability or disabling condition has the right to:

  1. A timely intake assessment to determine reasonable accommodation eligibility.
  2. Equal access to University courses, programs, services, activities and facilities with our without reasonable accommodation.
  3. Reasonable accommodations, as determined on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process between the student and the University.
  4. Appropriate confidentiality of all information pertaining to his/her disability.

Every student with a documented disability or disabling condition has the responsibility to:

  1. Meet the University’s qualifications and academic standards for participation in programs and activities.
  2. Identify him or herself to appropriate University personnel as a student with a disability.
  3. Follow the reasonable accommodations eligibility determination procedures outlined in this handbook.
  4. Provide documentation from a qualified professional source that verifies the nature of the disability, the functional limitations resulting from the disability, and the need for specific requested accommodations.
  5. Recognize that accommodations cannot be provided, regardless of eligibility, until the eligibility determination process is completed.

The University of San Francisco has the right to:

  1. Set and maintain the University’s academic standards.
  2. Request current, comprehensive documentation to verify a student's need for reasonable accommodations in the University setting.
  3. Discuss a student’s need for reasonable accommodations with the professional source of his/her documentation (with the student’s signed consent authorizing such discussion).
  4. Discuss the nature of course, curriculum, program or degree requirements with University personnel responsible for the particular course, curriculum, program or degree.
  5. Share information regarding a student’s disability with University faculty and administrative staff on a need-to-know basis, in order to facilitate the interactive reasonable accommodation process.
  6. Designate a student's accommodations from a range of equally effective reasonable accommodations.
  7. Periodically review recommended reasonable accommodations to ensure their continued reasonableness in a particular classroom setting or environment.
  8. Deny a request for a specific accommodation if documentation is inadequate or not provided in a timely manner, or if an equally effective accommodation is being offered.
  9. Deny a request for a specific accommodation if the accommodation is unreasonable or inappropriate including any that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the student or others, fundamentally alter a course or program, or are considered an undue burden.

The University of San Francisco has the responsibility to:

  1. Determine and provide reasonable accommodations in a timely manner for eligible students with disabilities.
  2. Provide information regarding policies and procedures to students with disabilities in a timely manner and in a reasonably accessible format.
  3. Evaluate students’ academic progress as fairly as possible, without altering the academic standards for each course.
  4. Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication concerning students with disabilities (except where disclosure is authorized by the student or required by law).
  5. Coordinate with faculty and staff to ensure recommended accommodations are reasonable on a case-by-case basis in each particular situation and if so, that such accommodations are implemented.

Accommodated Exam Policy

Students with disabilities may receive exam accommodations determined on an individual basis. “Exam,” used in this context, refers to quizzes and examinations taken during the semester in conjunction with an academic class. Students eligible for exam accommodations are able to take their exams with accommodations in class with their faculty or in the faculty’s office, when feasible. When not feasible, SDS may be able to proctor accommodated exams. Faculty will be notified of a student’s registration with SDS. It is the student’s responsibility to verify with his or her faculty that they have received said notification. In those cases where faculty is unable to accommodate a student’s request for exam accommodations, a student can arrange to take his or her exam with SDS.

Students should discuss their specific needs for exam accommodations (e.g. extended time, assistive technology, reduced distraction environment; use of a computer, etc.) with SDS or their specialist within the first two weeks of the beginning of the semester.

SDS authorizes and/or provides exam accommodations for students who present appropriate documentation supporting such needs. Exam accommodations include, but are not limited to: extended time, a distraction-reduced room, use of a computer, use of auxiliary aides such as scribe or reader, use of assistive technology, permission to have food, and restroom breaks.

  1. Required Testing Contracts:
    • Undergraduate and Graduate students: Before SDS can proctor an exam, the student and faculty are required to fill out an electronic testing contract. This document informs SDS that the faculty is aware that the student will be taking an accommodated exam with SDS. It also provides SDS with instructions from the faculty about the exam. SDS cannot schedule any exam without a completed testing contract. SDS will follow the instructions on the testing contract unless the faculty notifies SDS otherwise. Students and faculty must abide by the terms of the testing contract.
    • Law students: Law students/faculty are not required to fill out testing contracts; proctoring information is distributed through the Law School Registrar’s office.
  2. Scheduling Exam Appointments
    • Undergraduate and Graduate students: With the exception of pop quizzes and finals, all exams must be scheduled at least one week in advance. SDS cannot guarantee the student an exam appointment if SDS is not provided with at least one week’s advance notice.
      • If the student’s accommodations include reading or writing assistance, or the use of assistive technology, please inform SDS of this when you schedule your exam.
    • Law students: all exam appointments are scheduled through the Law School Registrar's office. 
  3. Pop Quizzes: Please have your faculty contact us if pop quizzes are part of the course.
  4. Delivering Exam Materials: Exams are to be delivered to SDS as indicated by the faculty on the testing contract. If the student is required to deliver the exam, then the student must come immediately upon receipt of the exam unless alternative arrangements have been made.
    • If the exam is on Canvas, students may use their own computers and will be required to use LockDown Browser whether or not it is required by the instructor, unless the instructor submits written approval to SDS in advance. Otherwise, students will be given an SDS laptop to take their exams.
  5. Returning Exam Materials: Once the exam is completed, the exam must be returned as indicated by the faculty on the testing contract. If the student is required to return the exam, then the completed exam must be returned immediately unless alternative arrangements have been made. If the student is unable to return the exam, the student is responsible for returning the exam to SDS and notifying the faculty.
  6. Finals
    • Undergraduate and Graduate students: Students will receive a notice via email, to sign up for their finals exam(s) approximately 3-4 weeks before finals. In order to facilitate the large number of exams, students must sign up by 5:00 pm on the stated due date. If students sign up past the due date, SDS cannot guarantee the student a time/date to take their exam in the SDS office. 
      • Due to the large number of students taking exams during finals, it may be necessary to reschedule some of these exams. SDS will notify the student and faculty regarding any necessary changes. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure their contact information is current and up-to-date.
    • Law students: The Law School Registrar informs all students of the time and venue of final exams. Students should receive a notice from the law school approximately 3-4 weeks before finals. Please be aware that every attempt is made to schedule accommodated exams as close to the original date as possible. However, in some instances, this is not possible. As such, some exams may take place at a different time than the original examination period.
  7. Proctoring Hours and Appointments: While SDS is not a test proctoring center, registered students with exam accommodations can have their exams proctored by SDS Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm, and from 7:30am to 7:00pm during the final exam period. In the event that a student requires proctoring services outside regular office hours, the student should work with their faculty to have their exam proctored by their faculty, (or approved faculty representative). In some cases, SDS is available to proctor exams that take place outside our regular business hours. We ask that faculty and students request this service at least five business days in advance. If this will be an ongoing request, please contact our office at the beginning the semester to make exam proctoring arrangements. Students must be on time for exams, and will be allowed a 15 minute window to start their exam. The exam start time will begin at their appointed time regardless of when the student arrives to take their test. SDS will call the student if they are 10 minutes late to remind them of their exam. If a student arrives after 15 minutes of their scheduled start time, the student will be asked to reschedule their exam, and their professor will be notified. Students can then reschedule their exam for a later date with faculty approval, or take the exam with their class.
  8. Proctoring: Proctors observe the tests to ensure security and the integrity of exams. Students may be monitored with security cameras while sitting for an exam. All students who take exams under the supervision of SDS staff agree to follow the instructions of the proctor, the university Honor Code and conduct themselves in a responsible and respectful manner. SDS staff will proctor exams the entire time students are testing. Students cannot leave the exam room without permission or exams may be terminated and the professor notified.
    • If the student receives reading or writing assistance during their exams as a reasonable accommodation, it is the student’s responsibility to notify SDS of this when signing up for the accommodated exam. Failure to give SDS at least two weeks advanced notice may result in the student not receiving this accommodation for the exam. If students require clarification of test questions, SDS staff will assist them in contacting faculty.
    • At the beginning of an exam, SDS staff will inform students of the start time, scheduled end time and the total amount of time the student has to complete the exam. At the end of the exam, SDS staff will collect all materials from the student. The student must stop working on his or her exam and return all materials at the end of the accommodated time and/or if directed to by an SDS proctor. If a student refuses to turn in exam materials, SDS staff will inform the student of possible exam policy violation; notice will be given to the faculty and an Academic Honor Code Incident Report may be filed.
  9. Exam Reschedule: The student suffers from a condition that fluctuates in nature. In the even that a flare up occurs on an exam day, please consider allowing the student to postpone the exam to the next business day. SDS is happy to facilitate this process, including proctoring the student at our testing center if appropriate. Please contact the student's specialist if you have any questions or concerns about this recommended accommodation.
  10. Academic Honesty: It is expected that all students will adhere to the University’s Academic Honor Code during accommodated exams (students enrolled in the School of Education, the School of Law, and distance learning and/or online courses will be subject to SDS policies as well as supplemental policies set forth by their program). Unless otherwise stated, no books, notes, electronic devices (e.g. cell phones, iPods, etc.) or any other unauthorized materials may be used during an exam. If a student is observed or suspected of using unauthorized materials or electronic devices during an exam, the exam will be immediately stopped, the student’s faculty will be notified and an Academic Honor Code Incident Report may be filed by SDS. The student must also meet with his/her specialist before taking any future accommodated exams in SDS. Students who violate SDS exam policy may be subject to alteration or forfeiture of their exam accommodation privileges, and may also be subject to sanctions outlined by the Academic Honor Code. 

Disability Related Appeal Process and Procedures

The University of San Francisco prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Student Disability Services (SDS) strives to provide equal access and reasonable, appropriate assistance and services to qualified students with disabilities. The appeal process is designed to address disagreements, denials, or grievances regarding services, accommodations, or modifications to university academic practices or requirements.

If a student is dissatisfied with an accommodation decision, they are encouraged to resolve the matter by communicating with their disability specialist. Equitable resolution of the matter should be sought through this interaction. If after communicating with their specialist the student is denied an accommodation, and believes the decision was made improperly, they can request a reconsideration of the decision from the Reconsideration Panel. The Reconsideration Panel will be comprised of SDS specialists and directors, and will not include the student’s specialist. The Reconsideration Panel will review the student’s request and render a decision via email within [10] working days of receipt of the complaint. SDS reserves the right to extend this review/investigation period if conditions warrant. To request a reconsideration of the accommodation decision please make your request in writing to If the student wishes to appeal the Reconsideration Panel’s decision, the student may request that the appeal be referred to the University Appeals Board (UAB).

University Appeals Board

UC 5th Floor

The University Appeals Board (UAB) is responsible for managing all appellate matters including ADA-related cases.

A formal request for appeal must be submitted to the UAB in accordance with the criteria described below. The appeal process is not a hearing – it is a review of the record and process only.

University Appeals
(415) 422-4099

An appeal will only be considered by the UAB if at least one of the following criteria for appeal is met:

1. Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the determination and/or the decision of the Director of Student Disability Services (SDS) or designee. The student must describe how the procedures were not followed and/or how the process was not conducted fairly.

      1.1 The Director of SDS or designee is expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the policies and procedures of the University. Deviations from those policies and procedures that render their actions fundamentally unfair constitute a sufficient basis for an appeal to the University Appeals Board.

      1.2 Procedural irregularities that are considered by the UAB to be harmless and did not, in the judgment of the Board, adversely affect the process, are not a basis for reversing the determination and/or the decision of the Director of SDS or designee.

2. New evidence that was not reasonably available for presentation at the time of the original complaint, the introduction of which could reasonably be expected to affect the determination of the Director of SDS or designee. The student must submit, provide and describe the new and relevant information and explain why it was not available at the time of the original complaint.

     2.1 All available evidence, including testimony of witnesses, is expected to be presented at the time of the original complaint - only on that basis can the Director of SDS or designee render fair and reasonable decisions. A student who seeks to introduce new evidence has the burden of demonstrating that the evidence was not reasonably available at the time of the original complaint and that the introduction of such new evidence can be reasonably expected to affect the determination of the Director or designee.

     2.2 If the UAB determines that the student has satisfied this burden, the Board will reconsider the complaint in light of the new evidence.

The University Appeals Board (UAB) will review the request for appeal to determine if it meets any of the criteria described above.

If the UAB determines the request for appeal does not meet any of the criteria, the request will be denied and the student will be notified via email.

If the request for appeal meets the criteria, the UAB will proceed with a review of the original process and all case file information (incident reports, witness statements, case notes, documents, etc.). The Board will consult with the Office of Human Resources if they feel they need an expert on ADA matters and/or compliance. The Board will make a final determination within ten (10) business days from submission of the request. The Board reserves the right to extend this time frame if necessary.

The board has the authority to:

  • Affirm the original decision, including the outcome(s) imposed.
  • Refer the case back to the resolution staff member for further investigation and consideration if new relevant information was not reasonably available at the time of the initial investigation has been presented.
  • Reverse part or all of the original decision and resolve the incident with no additional action.
  • Reduce or increase the assigned outcomes(s).

The written decision of the UAB shall be final.

For complaints related to non-academic program accommodations, contact the Program Director or Department Chair of the program involved.

Human Resources
LM 339
(415) 422-6707

Emergency Evacuation Procedures

The University of San Francisco asks that persons with disabilities learn and remember features of each building they are in, including stairways, exits, phone locations, and elevator procedures. It is very important that persons with disabilities participate in all emergency drills to practice procedures. We recommend that individuals with disabilities assume responsibility in identifying several people in their classes and residence halls or office buildings who are willing to assist them in case of emergency, and discuss their needs with these individuals ahead of time. We highly encourage all students with disabilities to carry a cell phone at all times. In the event of an emergency on campus, the first step is to contact Public Safety Emergency at (415) 422-2911.

Student Housing recommends students with disabilities to participate fully in all emergency drills. Student Housing also recommends that students disclose their needs to their floor Resident Advisor and a few select and willing floor mates and/or their Residence Hall Director, so that these individuals are aware of evacuation needs and can inform officials what assistance may be needed in the event of an emergency. Students with disabilities who would like individualized evacuation assistance in advance of a drill may contact Student Housing, SDS, or Public Safety.

Basic Fire Techniques in the Event of a Fire Alarm

  • Everyone should sleep with the bedroom door closed at night. A closed door will help slow the spread of fire, smoke, and heat. A person following an escape route should be sure to close the door behind him/her to slow the spread of fire.
  • When the person hears the alarm, s/he should immediately go to the door and touch it.
  • If after a few seconds, the person feels no heat from the door, s/he should open it and leave their room to meet with their floormate or resident advisor to assist with your evacuation. Take your cell phone. No one should stop for clothes, papers, jewelry, or other personal items; however, without causing any delay, taking your already created “go bag” with essential items is recommended.
  • Go to the nearest fire exit stairwell/area of refuge to wait for emergency personnel to assist you. Call Public Safety (415) 422-2911 to let them know where you are by providing your floor number and stairwell/area of refuge location. Remain calm and wait to the side to avoid impeding the evacuation of others.
  • If during the time in the room you begin to detect smoke or feel the door and it is now hot, do not open the door and call Public Safety (415) 422-2911 . Tell them what room you are in and what assistance you need. Get to the window and attempt to gain the attention of someone below. If unable to contact Public Safety, try to remain calm, call 911 and tell them what university building, floor and room you are in. Continue to attempt to gain the attention of someone below. If practical, open the window to signal or call for help. If there is visible smoke outside your window, close your window to keep the smoke out. If possible, grab some towels or clothing and get them wet with water and shove them around the door to seal the cracks.
  • Elevators should not be used when the fire alarm is going off, unless directed by emergency personnel.

Power Outages or Inoperable Elevators

  • In the event of a power outage or inoperable elevator in University operated housing, please contact Facilities Management at (415) 422-6464 during business hours, M-F 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, and Public Safety (415) 422-4201 during all other hours of the week.
  • Inform officials of the problem, and make sure they know that you are a person with a disability. Give them your name, telephone number and location in the building. Ask officials to inform you when the issue is resolved, as appropriate.
  • Stay where you are. If the problem cannot be resolved immediately and you need to get out of the building for an emergency reason, contact Public Safety (415) 422-2911 and tell them that you are in need of assistance.
  • If the power outage or downed elevators are anticipated to last overnight, Student Housing will make the commitment to reasonably accommodate you and relocate you to another space in University Operated Housing.

The University recommends students with disabilities disclose to the professor and/or colleagues what assistance they would need during an emergency. It may also be helpful to inform select classmates as well.

Basic Fire Techniques in the event of a Fire Alarm

  • As appropriate, follow the basic fire response listed above for University operated housing.

Power Outages or Downed Elevators/Lifts

  • As appropriate, follow the Power Outages or Inoperable Elevators guidelines listed above for University operated housing.