Definitions of Disability Categories and Student Eligibility
It is the students' responsibility to request accommodations and provide documentation of their disability. The verification must identify the student's specific disability as well as the educational limits that result from this disability. For students requesting services for a learning disability, the DSPS staff will evaluate previous documentation and can provide learning disability assessments in compliance with the guidelines for learning disability testing provided by the California Community College Chancellor's Office.
The certification of a disability by DSPS is binding upon the District. The DSPS professional staff possesses the necessary education and training, as prescribed by the Chancellor's Office, to make these decisions. All evaluation of documentation related to a disability will be done by DSPS. Should a student present or offer such documentation to a faculty member, staff, or administrator, that individual should refer the student and documentation to the DSPS Office. Students requesting DSPS services for the first time complete a program application. Although federal law specifies that a student does not have to register with the DSPS Office, the evaluation of documentation must be done by DSPS. DSPS adheres to a strict code of confidentiality pertaining to documentation and will not release information without first obtaining written consent from the student.
There are eight categories of disabilities.
- Hearing loss – total deafness or a hearing loss so severe that a student is impaired in processing information through hearing, with or without amplification. Specific definitions can be found in Title 5, Section IIIA, Article 56034.
- Acquired Brain Injury – An acquired brain impairment caused by external or internal trauma, resulting in total or partial functional limitations that adversely affects or limits a student's educational performance by impairing cognition, information processing, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment and/or problem solving; language and/or speech; memory and/or attention; sensory, perceptual and/or motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; or physical functions.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder – Learning deficits resulting from below average intellectual functioning which adversely affects educational performance, existing concurrently with measurable potential for achievement in educational and/or employment settings.
- Learning Disability - Learning disability is defined as a persistent condition of presumed neurological impairment which continues despite instruction in standard classroom situations. To be categorized as learning disabled a student must exhibit: • Average to above average intellectual ability • Severe processing deficit(s) • Severe aptitude-achievement discrepancy(ies) • Measured achievement in an instructional setting
- Mobility Impaired - Mobility problems can be associated with several different bodily systems: skeletal, musculature, neurological, or combinations of systems. Mobility impairments also include problems associated with motor control, such as hand dexterity and strength, spasticity of head and limbs, and loss of appendages.
- Low Vision or Blindness – Including but not limited to Blindness - visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction, visual loss so severe that it no longer serves as a major channel for information processing, Partial sightedness – visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye after correction, with vision which is still capable of serving as a major channel for information processing.
- Psychological or Psychiatric Disability – persistent psychological or psychiatric disorder, emotional or mental illness that adversely affects educational performance.
- Other Disability – This category includes all other verifiable disabilities and health related limitations that adversely affect education performance but do not fall into any of the other disability categories. These conditions may be chronic or acute and may result in limited strength, vitality, or alertness.
Reference: Education Code Sections 67310, 84850; Title 5, Sections 56000 et. seq.; Section 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Title 2, Americans with Disabilities Act Title III-4.2300
Understanding Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities affect the information processing abilities of individuals with average or above average overall intelligence. One or more of the following abilities may be affected:
- Ability to accurately "take in" information
A student may be able to pass a hearing test, but has difficulty perceiving the words that an instructor is saying during a lecture.
When attempting to read a student may perceive the printed words to move, reverse their sequence or shake
- Ability to organize information
Difficulty in deciding how to prioritize information or put it into the proper sequence.
A student may be able to recall a great deal of information about a topic, but can't seem to form a concept that links the pieces of information
- Ability to retain information
A student may have excellent comprehension of information presented during a lecture, but can't remember much about it 20 minutes later
- Ability to express knowledge
A student may be able to solve a complex problem "in their head", but can't effectively express it to others through writing, or sometimes through speech
Quite often only one of these abilities is affected by a specific type of learning disability. It is very common for a person with a learning disability to be proficient, or even excel, in some academic areas, but experience extreme difficulty when attempting to learn others:
A student with a reading disability may excel in math and science
A student with math disability may excel in English and social studies
A student with a reading disability may be a proficient writer
These difficulties persist even though the student has had sufficient instruction in the academic area that they have difficulty with. A Learning Disability Specialist can assess a student to determine if they have a learning disability, identify the kind of learning disability, and recommend "learning strategies", assistive technologies, and support services that can compensate for the disability and help the student be successful in reaching their academic goals.
Some very successful people have had learning disabilities, including Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, Agatha Christie, and George Washington.