Student FAQs

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:

2. How do I get started?

Register with DSP by creating an online profile on MyDSP.  Once you have created your profile, you may upload your formal documentation to complete the online accommodation request process.

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?

The office of Disability Services and Programs (DSP) engages in an interactive review process to determine reasonable accommodations for each student, factoring in the student’s request, the nature of the student’s disability, the supporting documentation, and the fundamental requirements of courses, programs of study, and the University. Accommodations may not fundamentally alter the nature or requirements of a course or program, or institutional requirements for admission, academic standing/progress, or graduation. Accommodations are designed to provide equal access to the academic environment for students with disabilities. A request for accommodations does not guarantee approval; however students are welcome to provide updates to their files and accommodation requests at any time.

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 each semester. 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. Please note, accommodations are not retroactive.

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; however, your participation in the interactive process will still be necessary. 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 records provided to our office are confidential.

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

Yes, you will need to generate and distribute new accommodations letters for each instructor/class at the start of each term.

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

Students registered with DSP will receive a primary support specialist.  DSP staff are also available on a walk-in basis but appointments are preferred. Staff and Graduate Advisors may also be reached via email at 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 DSP Representative.

14. My program requires me to take a standardized test (or I am seeking to take a standardized test).  Can DSP help me with accommodations?

DSP is happy to provide a letter of verification, or complete DSP specific sections of required accommodation request forms, for you to assist with seeking accommodations for standardized.  Please know that DSP does not approve accommodations for standardized tests.  You may be required to complete specific accommodation request forms pending the standardized examination you are taking.  Check their websites and complete any required forms.