A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility that enables a student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits, opportunities, and privileges that are available to all students with or without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are identified to mitigate the educational impact of disabilities; they should not lower the curriculum standards or allow changes that fundamentally alter essential course requirements.  

Reasonable accommodations are determined by examining:

  • The barriers resulting from the interaction between the documented disability and the campus environment;
  • The possible accommodations that might remove barriers;
  • Whether or not the student has access to the course, program, service, job, activity, or facility without accommodations; and
  • Whether essential elements of the course, program, service, job, activity, or facility are compromised or fundamentally altered by the accommodations.

The following are the most common accommodations requested from students registered with the DRC. Since accommodations are individualized based on students’ specific needs, this is not an exhaustive list. Students are encouraged to speak with a DRC Service Coordinator to explore all reasonable accommodations and access concerns. If students find that they are experiencing additional barriers, schedule another meeting with their service coordinator to address those concerns.

Students who are interested in receiving accommodations from the Disability Resource Center can visit the Affiliate with the DRC page for more information.
Faculty interested in more information about delivering accommodations should please visit the Providing Accommodations page.

English as a Second Language

The DRC focuses on disability related accommodations so students who are English as a Second Language (ESL) Learners would not be able to have accommodations through our office unless there is a disability related need. For English as a Second Language resources, please visit the DRC Resources page.

Academic Accommodations

Coursework Accommodations

If student’s disability affects their coursework, the DRC can put coursework accommodations in place. These accommodations can relate to reading and writing support, assisting with a more flexible timeline, consideration for alternate content and more. 

Exam Accommodations

If a student’s disability impacts their ability to succeed on any in-class, graded assignment, such as a quiz, pop-quiz, midterm, test, exam, or final exam, the DRC can put exam accommodations in place. Please note that some accommodations require time to coordinate, and some divisions may have additional deadlines for coordinating accommodations for midterms and exams. For more information, go to the Exam Support page.

  • CCTVs
  • Distraction-Reduced Testing Environment
  • Exams in Alternative Format
  • Extended Testing Time
  • Readers
  • Scribes
  • Use of a Laptop
Graduate Student Accommodations

Graduate students’ accommodation needs frequently change during the course of their studies. For example, a student may need coursework accommodations like text-to-speech software and assignment extensions, and need a program-based accommodation like short-breaks during their dissertation defense at the end of their program. Graduate students who live on campus are eligible for housing accommodations. The processes for some grad accommodations different from the undergraduate process for a similar accommodation. Please see below for more information and examples of grad-specific accommodations

  • Accommodations for Coursework

Accommodations for graduate coursework are generally the same as those in undergraduate programs and are arranged following the same process.

  • Graduate Program Accommodations

Accommodations for graduate programs are arranged on a case-by-case basis. These accommodations are often arranged in conversation between a graduate student, their DRC service coordinator, and the other relevant parties (e.g. a student’s advisor, graduate program, thesis committee members). Some common graduate program accommodations include:

  • Extensions of time to reach degree milestones 
  • Normative Time extensions
  • Short breaks during oral examinations
  • Exam accommodations for timed exams that take place outside of coursework
  • Part-Time for Graduate Students 

Part-time for pre-ABD Graduate students is below 8 credits. Make sure to read the Graduate Division’s description of the implications of Part-Time status for health insurance, and TAship eligibility, and talk with the student’s department about their funding. The normative time is proportionately lengthened for each quarter that the student has part-time status. For example, if full-time normative time would be three academic quarters, then part-time normative time would be six academic quarters. 

To apply for part time status as a graduate student on the basis of disability, the student will need to:

  • Provide supporting documentation to DRC (if they do not already have documentation supporting this accommodation on file).
  • Request the part time accommodation from their service coordinator. If they qualify, their service coordinator will notify the student and their department, and the student will be copied.
  • Fill out the Graduate Division’s Part Time Application Form and obtain the necessary signatures from their department
  • Submit the Graduate Division form along with the DRC part time authorization to the Graduate Division. In many programs, the student’s department will assist them with this step.
In-Class Accommodations

If student’s disability affects them in class, the DRC can put in-class accommodations in place. These accommodations can relate to participation, getting to and from class, feeling comfortable in class, communication and more.

Temporary Injury/Condition Accommodations

DRC may provide support and services for in-class, coursework, exam, housing, parking or other accommodations to students with temporary or unexpected conditions/injuries that limit their ability to fully participate in academic programming. Some examples of temporary conditions/injuries that may require accommodations include:

  • Pregnant students experiencing pregnancy-related functional limitations (pregnant students not experiencing pregnancy-related functional limitations can seek pregnancy accommodations through the campus Title IX Office.)
  • Students with recently acquired injuries, such as broken limbs or concussions/brain injuries.
  • Students recovering from surgeries or medical procedures
  • Students preparing for upcoming surgeries or medical procedures may experience side effects or impacts from the surgeries or medical procedures.

Non-Academic Accommodations

If student’s disability affects them in other aspects of their life, the DRC can put additional accommodations in place.

Dining Accommodations

Students with medical and/or disability-related concerns regarding food and dining access are encouraged to meet with a dining hall manager. Dining hall managers are knowledgeable about the food options available and can recommend which foods will work with specific diets.

Students whose food access needs are not met by dining hall managers are encouraged to meet with Dining Administration. UCSC Dining works with students to discuss their specific needs and determine how to best address their concerns. Accommodations to dining services may require collaboration between the student, dining staff, and the Disability Resource Center and documentation from a qualified professional to be considered.

Please refer to the UCSC Dining website for more information

Housing / Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodations

If a student plans to live on-campus and has a disability-related need to modify their living environment, they should complete the Housing/ESA Accommodation Request Process. If they have a disability that requires an Emotional Support Animal or plan to bring a Service Animal to live in campus housing, please review the UC Santa Cruz Service/Support Animals Policy.

Incoming students: After accepting the offer of admission to UC Santa Cruz, incoming students will be assigned to one of the colleges and sent instructions for completing the online housing application/contract process.

Housing accommodations may include things like: housing without steps or stairs; grab bars; a single room, lighter doors; additional space for mobility devices; ADA accessible furniture; visual alarms, etc. Please contact the DRC as soon as possible if you are not sure whether you may need housing accommodations. Note that accommodations require time to coordinate. Please apply as early as possible so that we can ensure accommodations are in place by the time you begin.

If the student is not yet affiliated with the DRC, complete the DRC Welcome Form to create an Accommodate account, so they are able to upload supporting documentation for their Housing/ESA request.

The  DRC Student Housing / Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodation Request, will need to be submitted each academic year and/or Summer to renew housing accommodations. Summer session housing/ESA accommodations are separate from the regular academic year. 

Please note:
The DRC cannot guarantee on-campus housing and is subject to availability.  
A request for a single room as a distraction free place to study is not a disability related accommodation. All students are encouraged to reserve rooms on campus, use the Library or noise canceling headphones.
College re-assignment is not a housing accommodation that the DRC can provide.

The DRC will process Housing/ESA accommodation requests when all of the following steps have been completed:

  1. Completion of the DRC Student Housing / Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodation Request, including a Personal Statement which is included in the application.
  2. Submission of a PDF of the responses from the DRC Housing/ESA Accommodation Request to the Accommodate Student Portal (the student will get a copy of their responses, save as a PDF and upload to Accommodate). 
  3. Submission of Supporting Documentation to DRC through the Accommodate Portal. The Housing/ESA Documentation Form follows the required guidelines.
  4. Submission of the Housing application on the Housing Portal.

If a Housing or ESA accommodation is authorized, the DRC will notify the college housing coordinator of the authorized accommodation recommendations within 14 business days or contact the student if further information is needed. Submitting the Housing/ESA Request application, PDF of the Application Responses and Supporting Documentation at the same time is advised to avoid delays in processing. 

Documentation Information: To qualify for Housing/ESA accommodations, provide supporting documentation. The Housing/ESA Documentation Form follows the required guidelines. Refer to the UC system-wide Supporting Documentation Guidelines for more information. 

To submit the PDF of the DRC Student Housing / Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodation Request and documentation to the DRC, upload them directly into Accommodate by following the directions on the How to Submit Documentation Guide. If the student is renewing previously authorized housing or ESA accommodations, they do not need to submit documentation again.

Housing or ESA Appointment Information:

An appointment is NOT required to apply for Housing or ESA accommodations, however, if the student would like to meet to discuss their request or have questions regarding the Housing/ESA request process, please schedule a Housing appointment or an ESA appointment with the DRC Housing Coordinator using the Accommodate system.

Personal Care Assistants

The University does not pay for or provide Personal Care Assistants, personal services, or individually prescribed devices.  To arrange for services, students often work with the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) or the Santa Cruz County Adult Protective Services In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program. See the Office for Civil Rights publication “Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities.”

If the student currently receive services from DOR or other state or local agency, it is important to contact them early and work closely with that agency and the local counterpart agency serving Santa Cruz to facilitate a smooth transition with no break in service.

For information about requesting or receiving services through DOR (such as books, tuition assistance, bus passes, accessible vans, or specialized equipment), please visit

If the student will be requesting financial aid to help pay for personal care assistance, please visit the Financial Aid Office website or call (831) 459-2963.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Students who are experiencing temporary medical complications or impacts due to pregnancy (example: pain from sitting in a classroom desk or a need for prescribed bed rest) are eligible for services from the DRC on a case by case basis. This may include adjustments or accommodations to address the impacting medical barriers. Contact the DRC to schedule an appointment or to ask about how we assist students who have medical impacts from pregnancy. Pregnant students also have non discrimination protections on the basis of sex from Title IX. Contact Title IX for more information. 


In addition to our services, we can refer students to other helpful resources. We can provide referrals to local qualified clinicians who can provide comprehensive testing and evaluation for learning disabilities or ADHD if students suspect they have a learning disability or if their documentation is outdated or incomplete. We can give students information on support groups and disability related organizations in the community. We can also provide referrals to other on-campus resources such as the Career Center, student clubs, the Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, Learning Support Services and more.

Service Animals

UC Santa Cruz has a “no pet” policy. Exceptions are made for service animals as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act/ Fair Housing Act/ FEHA:

“Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability…. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.”

Requests for emotional support animals (animals that individuals with disabilities utilize for emotional support, well-being, or comfort) are reviewed on a case-by-case basis in housing and employment situations only. Please contact the DRC for more information. 

Undergraduate Part-Time Status Enrollment Authorizations

If a student needs a lighter course load for disability-related reasons, the DRC can authorize them for the Undergraduate Part-Time Program. Part-time is 10 units or less. Requests for Part-Time Program must be made by the published deadline, usually within the first three weeks of the quarter. If the student receives financial aid, contact the Financial Aid office to inquire how the Part-Time Program may affect them.

Transportation Accommodation Authorizations

The DRC can authorize parking and/or Disability Van Service accommodations for those who have a legitimate disability related need for that assistance. For those who have DMV handicapped placards or cannot use the Disability Van Service for disability-related reasons, parking authorizations can be obtained from the DRC. If students have a temporary medical condition, the student and their doctor can fill out an application for a DMV handicapped placard. For more information on campus policy regarding disability parking, go to Disabled Parking.

If a student uses a wheelchair or has problems with stairs or hills, check out the ADA Compliance website to find out more about campus access.

The Disability Van Service is operated by Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) and can provide door to door service throughout campus free of charge with authorization from the DRC.

Last modified: May 30, 2024