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Overview of Disabled Students Program and Services

Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) (Education Code, Section 84850 and Title 5, California Code of Regulations (5 CCR) Sections 56000-56076) were enacted in 1976 through the passage of Assembly Bill 77 (Lanterman), which funds support services and instructional programs for students with disabilities in the California Community Colleges.  DSPS assists colleges to provide services and accommodations for students with disabilities to support their student success and to meet the requirements of federal and State non-discrimination laws, including Sections 504 and 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and State Government Code Sections 11135-11139.5. 

Technically, operating DSPS is voluntary on the part of each college. Colleges are governed by the Title 5 regulations regarding DSPS only because they accept the DSPS funds allocated to them every year. A college could refuse the DSPS funds and not be subject to the requirements of Title 5 regarding DSPS. However, by refusing Title 5 funds, the college would not reduce or eliminate its obligations under state and federal law regarding the civil rights of people with disabilities and the need to provide services and accommodations to ensure that the college's programs and services are accessible to, and usable by, students with disabilities. In fact, DSPS assists greatly in providing the funding and the mechanism through which the college meets these federal and state requirements.

In many cases, it is very complicated to determine if a specific service is required by state and federal law since accommodations should be provided on an individualized basis, after engaging in an interactive process with the student with a disability.  The critical requirement is that, as a result of the interactive process, disability related accommodations are provided to students in order to provide equal access to the educational process and to eliminate discrimination.  As DSPS has evolved, some services and approaches have developed as efficient and successful strategies to meet the legal requirements for providing accommodations and services based on student need.  So, while there may be no direct legal or regulatory requirement to provide a specific service, there may be an institutional standard and general programmatic expectation that has developed regarding such services.  These services have grown out of a long-standing and substantial history of serving the diverse needs of students with disabilities attending California Community Colleges. Examples of such services are Learning Disability Assessment, Special Classes and High Tech Center services. None of these three services is specifically required by state or federal law or regulation to be provided by colleges to students with disabilities, but the contribution they make to meeting student needs and to ensuring accommodations are provided in an effective manner is the key reason colleges choose to provide them. They provide the means to the end.