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How to Get Started

Peggy DeCoursey with student

Getting Started

Here are a couple of quick steps to help you get started. Remember, you can always briefly consult with a staff member or counselor during drop-in hours (R-109) or by telephone (510) 436-2429.

STEP 1:

• If new to Peralta colleges, complete the online college application (www.peralta.edu).
• Make an appointment with Orientation and Assessment (510) 436-2475.
• Follow with an appointment with a DSP Counselor (510) 436-2429, R-109.

STEP 2:

• Gather information on yourself:
• What are your goals for attending college?
• What are your learning strengths, weaknesses?
• How does your disability affect you?
• What works best for you?
• What adaptive technology do you need?

STEP 3:

• Obtain verification of your disability from (link to form):
• Medical Doctor, Psychiatrist or Psychologist
• High School Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.)/504 Plan
• Learning Disability Assessment
• Department of Rehabilitation evaluation

STEP 4:

Complete the DSP Intake Forms with information on yourself, your disability, and your doctor, agencies assisting you, and your
need for services (link to forms).

STEP 5:

Meet with the DSP Counselor to develop a plan for your goals and support services. Together you will determine which services are most appropriate for you based on your disability and its functional limitations.

STEP 6:

The DSP Counselor will give you a Services and Accommodations Form listing your accommodations and services for each instructor. These forms MUST be re-issued each semester. You may email a request to your DSP Counselor after the initial form is issued or when it needs revision. [See Contact Us]

STEP 7:

Meet with your instructors in private (office hours or by appointment) at the beginning of each semester with your up-dated Services and Accommodations Form and discuss your specific needs. During the semester, you may need to remind your instructors about your accommodations. (If you have testing accommodations, we recommend that you remind your instructors by email several days before the exam/quiz that DSP is proctoring your exam/quiz and you will not be attending class that day.)

How to apply for disability services

How to Document your Disability

Documentation Required for Verification of Disability

In order to receive reasonable accommodations and services at Merritt College through Disability Services, a student must have a verified disability. The professional completing the Verification of Disability form, must provide current documentation for review and determination of eligibility by a DSP Counselor. Documentation must be dated within 3 years of the request for accommodations, except in the case of Mobility Impairment and Psychological Disability when documentation must be within 90 days of the student’s request for service.

Disability/Professional Documentation
If attending high school, most recent Individual Education Plan (IEP) and the following:

Acquired Brain Injury
• Neurologist
• Neuropsychologist
• Physician Cognitive rehabilitation report/neurological assessment/medical report documenting the disability
• Description of the impact on cognitive functions or how able the student is to take in and remember new information and produce reports based on new learning.
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Developmentally Delayed Learner
• Psychiatrist
• Psychologist Regional Center certification and/or psychological report (usually WAIS III or WISC III) documenting the disability
• Standard scores and/or descriptions of adaptive behavior levels
• Standard scores (not grade level equivalents nor percentile ranks) from recent academic achievement assessment (reading, spelling, math, etc.)
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Hearing Impairment
• Audiologist Current audiogram documenting the disability
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Learning Disability
• Psychologist
• College LD Specialist
• Other Appropriate Professional Psychological report documenting the disability
• Cognitive ability test standard scores (usually the WAIS III or WISC III).
• Achievement test standard scores (usually the WJ III).
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Mobility Impairment
• Physician
• Nurse Practitioner Medical report documenting the disability (within 90 days)
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Psychological Disability
• Psychiatrist
• Psychologist
• MFCC
• MSW Psychological report documenting the DSM Code and Axis (within 90 days)
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Speech and Language Impairment
• Speech and Language Pathologist Speech/Language report documenting the disability
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Visual Impairment
• Ophthalmologist
• Optometrist Current vision test documenting the disability
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Other Disability
• Appropriate Professional Medical or professional report documenting the disability
• Educational Limitations
• Recommended Services/Accommodations

Service Provider Guidelines for Documenting a Disability

The following guidelines are provided to assist the service provider in collaborating with each student to determine appropriate accommodations. Documentation serves as a foundation that legitimizes a student’s request for accommodations that are appropriate and reasonable.

• Learning disabilities
• Attention deficit/hyperactive disorder (AD/HD)
• Visual impairment
• Hearing impairment
• Speech impairment
• Mobility impairment
• Emotional impairment
• Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Learning Disabilities: Licensed psychologists, licensed specialists in school psychology, and certified educational diagnosticians, are professionals qualified to conduct comprehensive assessments for specific learning disabilities.

Recommended documentation:
• Testing that is comprehensive, including a measure of both aptitude (IQ) and achievement in the areas of reading, mathematics and written language
• Documentation for eligibility should be current, preferably within the last three years; (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s specific request for accommodations)
• A clear statement that a learning disability is present along with the rationale for this diagnosis. (Note: individual “learning deficits,” “learning styles,” and “learning differences,” do not, constitute a learning disability)
• A narrative summary, including all scores, which supports the diagnosis
• A statement of strengths and needs that will impact the student’s ability to meet the demands of the higher education environment
• Most importantly, in order to determine appropriate and effective accommodations, please describe the significant impact of this disability on any major life activity (fuctional limitations).

Attention deficit/hyperactive disorder:
Authorized professionals: Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD) is considered a medical or clinical diagnosis. Individuals qualified to render a diagnosis for this disorder are practitioners who have been trained in the assessment of AD/HD and are experienced in assessing the needs of adult learners. Recommended practitioners may include: developmental pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, licensed clinical or educational psychologists, family physicians, or a combination of such professionals. The diagnostician should be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.

Recommended documents:
• A clear statement of ADD or AD/HD with the DSM-IV diagnosis and a description of supporting past and present symptoms
• Documentation for eligibility should be current, preferably within the last three years; (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s specific request for accommodations)
• A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
• A narrative summary, including all scores, which supports the diagnosis
• Medical information relating to the student’s needs to include the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment
• Most importantly, in order to determine appropriate and effective accommodations, please describe the significant impact of this disability on any major life activities (“functional limitations” as described by the ADA. Limitations must be significant to be defined as a legal disability)

Visual impairment: Ophthalmologists are the primary professionals involved in diagnosis and medical treatment of individuals who are blind or experience low vision. Optometrists provide information regarding the measurement of visual acuity as well as tracking and fusion difficulties (including but not limited to: eye movement disorders, inefficiency in using both eyes together, misalignment of the eyes, lazy eye, focusing problems, visual sensory disorders and motor integration). Fellows of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development may also provide therapy in treating the above optometric conditions.

Recommended documents:
• A clear statement of vision related disability with supporting numerical description (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s request for accommodations)
• A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a summary of evaluation results including standardized scores
• Present symptoms, which meet the criteria for diagnosis
• Medical information relating to the student’s needs and the status of the individual’s vision (static or changing) and its impact on the demands of the academic program
• Narrative or descriptive text providing both quantitative and qualitative information about the student’s abilities which might be helpful in understanding the student’s profile including the use of corrective lenses and ongoing visual therapy (if appropriate)
• Most importantly, in order to determine appropriate and effective accommodations, please describe the significant impact of this disability on any major life activity (fuctional limitations).

Hearing impairment: Physicians (i.e., otologists) are qualified to provide diagnosis and treatment of hearing disorders. Audiologists may also provide current audiograms.

Recommended documents:
• A clear statement of deafness or hearing loss, with a current audiogram
(the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the condition, the current status of the student, and the student’s request for accommodations)
• A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a narrative summary of evaluation results, if appropriate
• Medical information relating to the student’s needs and the status of the individual’s hearing (static or changing) and its impact on the demands of the academic program
• A statement regarding the use of hearing aids (if appropriate)
• Most importantly, in order to determine appropriate and effective accommodations, please describe the significant impact of this disability on any major life activity (fuctional limitations).
Speech impairment
Diagnostic report provided by speech pathologist.

Mobility impairment: Mobility impairments and physical disabilities are considered to be in the medical domain and require the expertise of a physician, including an orthopedist, physical therapist, neurologist, or other medical specialist with experience and expertise in the area for which accommodations are being requested.

Recommended documents:
• A clear statement of the medical diagnosis of the physical disability or systemic illness
• Documentation for eligibility should be current, preferably within the last three years; (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s request for accommodations)
• A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis, including evaluation results and standardized scores if applicable
• A description of present symptoms which meet the criteria for diagnosis
• Medical information relating to the student’s needs to include the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment
• In order to determine appropriate and effective accommodations, please describe the significant impact of this disability on any major life activity (fuctional limitations).

Emotional impairment: Psychological disorders that cause emotional impairment (i.e., severe depression, panic disorder, thought disorder) require a formal report from a professional. A diagnosis by a mental health professional who is licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders (i.e., physician, psychiatrist, psychologist). The report should include the license number of the mental health professional.

Recommended documents:
• A clear statement of the disability, including the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis and a summary of present symptoms
• Documentation for eligibility should be current, preferably within the last three years; (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s request for accommodations)
• A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a summary of evaluation results, including standardized or percentile scores
• Medical information relating to the student’s needs to include the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment
• In order to determine appropriate and effective accommodations, please describe the significant impact of this disability on any major life activity (fuctional limitations).

Traumatic brain injury
Reports from a neurologist or neuro-psychologist.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations:
Reasonable accommodations in a college or university setting are defined as: adjustments made in programs or services that give qualified individuals with a disability equal and effective access needed to participate. Educational accommodations may vary and depend on approved diagnostic evaluations and the nature of the courses you plan to take.

Downloads (coming soon):

Disability Verification Form