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The University of Southern California is committed to full compliance with the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As part of the implementation of this law, the University will continue to provide reasonable accommodation of academically qualified students with disabilities, so those student can participate fully in the University’s educational programs and activities. Although USC is not required by law to change the “fundamental nature of essential curricular components of its programs in order to accommodate the needs of disabled students,” the University will provide reasonable academic accommodations. The specific responsibility of the University administration and all faculty serving in a teaching capacity is to ensure the University’s compliance with this policy.

The general definition of a student with a disability is any person who has “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities,” and any person who has “a history of, or is regarded as having, such an impairment.” Reasonable academic and physical accommodations include but are not limited to: extended time on examinations; substitution of similar or related work for a non-fundamental program requirement; time extensions on papers and projects; special testing procedures; advance notice regarding book list for visually impaired and some learning disabled students; use of academic aides in the classroom such as note takers and sign language interpreters; early advisement and assistance with registration; accessibility for students who use wheelchairs and those with mobility impairments; and need for special classroom furniture or special equipment in the classroom.

Obtaining Accommodations

Physical Accommodations—Students with physical disabilities should contact Disability Services and Programs (DSP) prior to or during the first week of class attendance or as early in the semester as possible. The office will work with classroom scheduling, the course instructors and their departments, and the students to arrange for reasonable accommodations.

Academic Accommodations—Students seeking academic accommodations due to a physical or learning disability should make the request to the course instructor prior to or during the first week of class attendance, as well as registering with DSP as early in the semester as possible. Course instructors should require that a student present verification of documentation when academic accommodations are being requested.

For assistance in how to provide reasonable accommodations for a particular disability, course instructors are encouraged to consult with Disability Services and Programs (DSP). Students requesting academic accommodations who do not have DSP documentation should be referred to that office.

Grievance Procedure

The purpose of the grievance procedure is to allow for the resolution of student grievances alleging accommodation violations of anti-discrimination laws, specifically Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Student-Any person who is currently enrolled at the University of Southern California or, during the recess period between semesters or the summer session, one who has completed the immediately preceding semester and is eligible for re-enrollment, or one who was enrolled at the time of the alleged infraction.

In addition, any person who is enrolled in seminars, workshops, and certificate programs at the University of Southern California.

Anti-discrimination Laws- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Federal Regulations promulgated there under prohibiting discrimination based on disability in all University programs and activities.

The Civil Rights legislation passed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990, which provides a comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and enforceable standards addressing discrimination.


A student who believes that a faculty member or teaching assistant at the University of Southern California has not provided appropriate accommodation in the classroom may attempt to resolve the matter either informally or formally.

1.) Informal
A student may choose to resolve the problem of inappropriate or inadequate accommodations in the classroom by speaking directly with the faculty member and requesting appropriate accommodations. A student may request advice, assistance, and/or advocacy from Disability Services and Programs. Requests for appropriate accommodations must be made during the semester that the course is being taken. As indicated in the Policy on Accommodations for Students with Disabilities, documentation of a student’s disability must be on file in the DSP office if academic accommodations are being requested.

Students may wish to discuss the situation informally with the student affairs personnel for assistance. Discussion with the faculty member, disability specialist, and/or department coordinators may lead to resolution of the matter without further procedures. If not, the student may choose to file a formal written complaint.

2.) Formal
To initiate a formal complaint, the student will need to contact Disability Services and Programs. A student may request advice, assistance or advocacy from this office.

The Director of DSP will send written notification of the complaint filed by the student and the nature of the complaint to the faculty member, indicating the type and purpose of appropriate academic accommodations. Copies of this notification will also be sent to the Department Chairperson, the Dean, and the senior student affairs officer of the school in which the course is being offered, as well as to the Director of the Affirmative Action Office.

If the student is not satisfied with the faculty member's response to the request for accommodation, the student must appeal in writing to the Department Chairperson responsible for the course in questions within ten working days. The Chairperson will review the appeal within ten working days and notify the student in writing of his/her decision.

If either the student or faculty member wishes to appeal the decision of the Department Chairperson, he/she must appeal to the Dean or Director of the academic unit within ten working days after receiving the written decision. The Dean or Director will review the appeal and within ten working days notify the student in writing of his/her decision.

If either the student or faculty member wishes to appeal the decision of the Dean or Director, he/she must appeal in writing within ten working days to the Vice President for Student Affairs who will appoint an Academic Accommodations Hearing Panel to review the appeal. This panel will consist of three faculty members, one specialist in disabilities from DSP and a member of the University administration. The panel will review the appeal and will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Student Affairs who will make a decision, which is final and binding.

Time Frame for Resolving Disagreements

In situations where there is disagreement concerning the appropriateness of a particular accommodation, every effort will be made to resolve the disagreement as expeditiously as possible. In general, each phase of the review process should occur within ten working days including informal resolution by the faculty and/or disabled student services professional, formal review by the appropriate disability services professional, Department Chairperson, Dean, Accommodations Hearing Panel, and final determination by the Vice President of Student Affairs. In consultation with DSP, every effort should be made by the academic department to try to enable the student to continue in the course throughout the grievance proceeding.