1. What does USC Disability Services & Programs (DSP) do?

Fundamental to the larger mission of the University of Southern California, Disability Services and Programs (DSP) serves to assist in creating an accessible university environment for students with disabilities.  DSP serves as a resource in facilitating access to students with disabilities through reasonable accommodations, training and collaboration.

Services include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic accommodations
  • Advocacy
  • Support for individual student needs including online students and students at satellite campuses
  • Career Transition Support
  • Occupational therapy
  • Learning strategy support
  • Psycho-educational support

2. How do I get started?

Register with DSP

3. How do I know if my condition is considered to be a disability?

An individual with a disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

4. Are there any campus resources that could assist me with determining if I have a disability?

Yes, click here to view a list of resources.

5. What is the difference between disability services in high school and in college?

HIGH SCHOOL – Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

  • School district responsible for identifying children with disabilities
  • Evaluation of disability is the school’s responsibility
  • Parents consent to evaluations and advocate for their child
  • Child’s information accessible to the parent
  • Disability defined by specific categories

COLLEGE – Equal access and the opportunity to compete

  • Student must self-identify as having a disability and provide adequate documentation
  • Evaluation of disability is the student’s responsibility
  • Student responsible for advocacy (e.g., accommodation requests, communicating functional impact of disability, etc.)
  • Student information protected under FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
  • Disability defined as a significant limitation to a major life function

6. What kinds of accommodations are available?

Accommodation list

7. What are my responsibilities for ensuring that I receive accommodations?

The accommodation process requires an active role on your part. It is your responsibility to register with DSP, request accommodations, and give accommodation letters to the professors for the classes in which you wish to receive accommodations. If you are having any difficulties with receiving your accommodations, it is important for you to maintain communication with DSP. Our staff is here to provide you with support and advocacy.

8. For the classes I want to request accommodations for, how soon after the beginning of the semester should I talk to my instructor about classroom accommodations?

Please provide your instructors with your accommodation letter as early in the semester as possible (at least two weeks before the first exam). If you are approved for exam or note-taking accommodations, it is your responsibility to follow up with your professor(s) to make appropriate arrangements.

9. Will DSP staff speak with my parents/guardians or answer their questions if they contact the office?

The DSP team will primarily work directly with you regarding your case. DSP will not discuss your case with your parents/guardians unless you provide us with specific permission to do so by setting up a family release password on your DSP profile. Parents/guardians must provide the family release password in order to access information.

10. Will any information regarding my disability be printed on my transcript or other university records?

No.  All information provided to our office is confidential.

11. I am already registered with DSP.  Do I have to renew my accommodation requests every semester?

Yes.  Returning User Registration.

12. How do I contact or meet with a DSP Counselor?

Counselors are available on a walk-in basis between the hours of 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Counselors can also be reached by email at ability@usc.edu and by phone at 213-740-0776.

13. I broke my wrist skiing last week.  Can DSP help me?

Yes.  Please contact DSP to speak with a counselor.


14. I am an employee of USC.  Can your assist me with getting accommodations from my department?

No.  DSP only provides accommodations for current USC students.  Please speak with your Home Department Coordinator.

15. What can a student with a disability expect in regards to admissions procedures?

All students must go through the same admissions process.  Please contact the USC Office of Admissions for additional information.


16. A student gave me an accommodation letter, what should I do?

Please review the details in the accommodation letter and discuss with the student, in a confidential manner, how you intend to provide the approved accommodations.

17. What are my responsibilities when I have a student with a disability in my class?

Your primary responsibility is to respond to the accommodations as outlined in the accommodation letter, provide a welcoming environment and maintain confidentiality.

18. What if I am concerned about an approved accommodation?

Please contact Disability Services and Programs and speak with a DSP Counselor at (213) 740-0776.

19. What do I do if a student requests a note-taker in my class?

As professor, you can provide the student with your lecture notes, have a TA provide notes, or make an anonymous announcement to the class requesting a note-taker.

If you make an anonymous general announcement in your course, please state the following: There is a student in  the course with a disability (do note mention the student’s name).  Because of the student’s disability, the student is in need of a note-taker.  Would someone please volunteer to share his or her notes with this student for the semester?  It would be of great value and assistance to the student.  If willing, please see me after class.  Then, email DSP Note Taking at notetake@usc.edu.  In general, note takers receive a token of appreciation at the end of the semester on their USCard.  The amount can be up to $100.  This amount is not guaranteed as it is dependent on various factors (i.e. quality of notes, frequency of uploads, etc.).

Please continue announcing the need for a note-taker until one is secured.  If a student does not immediately volunteer, you may approach a student and request his or her note-taking assistance.  In the past, some professors have provided a few points of extra credit to note-takers.  Please consider if this is a possibility for your class.

20. How far in advance must students with disabilities inform an instructor about needed accommodations?

DSP advises students to provide instructors with accommodation letters as early in the semester as possible.  If requesting testing accommodations, at least two weeks before the exam.

21. Are there any general modifications I should consider to make my courses more accessible to all students?

Basic principles of universal design for learning encourage providing multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement for all students.  Examples may include providing notes for course lectures, offering students a variety of options to demonstrate their comprehension of course material, and administering untimed exams.

For additional information, please refer to The National Center on Universal Design for Learning or The Faculty Room.

22. Should I place a statement on my syllabus informing students with disabilities that accommodations are available?

It is mandatory that all university syllabi include the following statement regarding students with disabilities available through the USC Faculty Portal:

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester.  A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP.  Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible.  DSP is located in GFS 120 and is open 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  Website for DSP: https://dsp.usc.edu and contact information: (213) 740-0776 (Phone), (213) 740-6948 (TDD only), (213) 740-8216 (FAX), ability@usc.edu (Email).

23. May I talk to a student about his/her disability?

Feel free to speak with students about accommodation requests.  Please respect student privacy and use the utmost discretion and sensitivity when discussing these matters.  It is up to the student to discuss specifics regarding the nature of any disability.