CalArts has a commitment to provide equal educational opportunities to students who identify with having a disability or are otherwise documented. In compliance with the state and federal laws including The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 defines an individual with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the individual's major life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

CalArts students who identify with having a disability or are otherwise qualified above are able to request accommodations from the Disability Services Office. We recommend to students who are seeking request for services do so as early as two weeks before the semester starts or within the first two weeks of classes.

How to Obtain Services

Registration with the Office of Student Experience (A207) is on a voluntary, self-identifying basis. Services are available only after a student has presented certified documentation of the disability from an appropriate medical or educational specialist, and this documentation has been reviewed and accepted as complete. 

Documentation should describe the impairment adequately for CalArts to be able to determine the degree of resulting limitation on a major life activity and the relevant accommodations. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) from secondary school (K-12) while helpful is not considered sufficient documentation. The Disability Services specialist will accept IEPs as additional information, but not as the primary documentation. If a student needs an evaluation, the Student Experience office will make referrals to appropriate licensed professionals. CalArts does not conduct or pay for this testing. Some health insurance companies may pay for all or part of the evaluation, and some of the referrals offer a sliding scale for payment. 

After documentation has been received by the Office of Student Experience, it will be reviewed by the Disability Services Specialist. It is necessary for the student to meet with the Disability Specialist, preferably after the student has signed up for courses and before classes begin. At this meeting the Disability Specialist will interview the student and together they will make a plan for accommodating the student's disability.  

A new streamlined process is in the works, hold tight for us to update this process. For questions in the meantime, please email

Examples of Accommodations 

We provide a wide range of accommodations and in determining reasonable accommodations, the Disability Specialist will consider recommendations made in the student's documentation as well as assistance received by the student in past educational settings.  

It is important to note that colleges are not required to waive or substitute essential elements of programs. Colleges are required to provide reasonable accommodations to assure reasonable access to persons with disabilities for all institutional programs and services. 

Examples of accommodations include but are not limited to: alternative testing accommodations, such as extended time on tests, testing in a room free of distractions or tests administered orally; permission to tape record lectures; extra time on major assignments; note taking assistance; use of a calculator; alternative assignments; services of a sign language interpreter; and access to close-captioned equipment or specialized software, attendance and deadline modifications. 

Rights and Responsibilities of Students

Students with disabilities have the right to timely, reasonable accommodations in order to provide them with the same opportunity for success as students who do not have disabilities. They have the right to: equal access to courses, programs, services, jobs, activities and facilities at CalArts; reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids determined on an individual basis; appropriate confidentiality regarding their disability; and information reasonably available in accessible formats.

Students are responsible for: providing appropriate documentation of their disability; meeting with the Disability Specialist to request services; maintaining the academic and institutional standards required of all CalArts students; attending all classes; contacting other agencies for services for which they may be eligible; and arranging for personal attendants, if needed, whether paid for by an agency or personally.  It is important for students to recognize that not attending a class may result in the loss of a particular accommodation for that class. 

Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty 

Faculty members at CalArts are valuable participants in the development and delivery of accommodations for students with disabilities. They have the right to: determine the curricula for their courses; evaluate students' progress and assign grades; give feedback to the Disability Specialist regarding the accommodations used in their classrooms; and challenge accommodations that would jeopardize the academic standards of integrity of their courses.  

Each member of the faculty has responsibilities including the following: to provide an atmosphere in which all students can learn the course material; to notify students that accommodations are available and coordinated through the Office of Student Experience; to refer students to Student Experience when they identify themselves as disabled or request services; to provide accommodations in a fair and timely manner; to grade students based on their performance, without counting off for reasonable accommodations or being registered with this office; and to allow accommodations such as recorders, interpreters, academic or artistic aides or note takers into the classroom. 

Grievance Procedures

CalArts supports a student’s right in filing a grievance when you believe you have been denied equal access in the form of appropriate accommodations, modifications, auxiliary aids or effective communication or suffered discriminatory harassment as described in the The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The general grievance procedures apply to all students, and  can be found on the policies website

The following steps are encouraged if a student with a disability would like to address their concerns about an accommodations, or feel their rights have been violated under the ADA and 504.

1. Students are highly encouraged to discuss their concerns with their Disability Services Specialist. The specialist will attempt to resolve the issues by assisting the student in discussing the issues with their faculty member, the nature of the reasonable accommodation, department or program.  In some instances, the Vice President of Student Experience or Provost or designee may be consulted in order to develop a resolution. Most situations are positively resolved throughout this process and mediation. 

2. If the student or Disability Services Specialist feels that the resolution has not been reached, the student should notify the Disability Services Specialist immediately, and the specialist and the appropriate departments, depending on the nature of the claim, will evaluate the complaint and determine an appropriate resolution. 

3. If the complaint is not resolved at the institute level, the student has the right to choose to file a complaint with the Federal Office for Civil Rights. This office will take complaints and will investigate when appropriate.  

Resolving Conflicts with Disability Services

The procedure for resolving conflicts with Disability Services is similar to the steps explained above. Initially, the student should discuss the complaint with their Specialist. If the complaint is not resolved, or there is a specific reason the situation cannot be discussed with the Specialist, the student should meet with the Vice President of Student Experience.

If a satisfactory solution is still not offered, the student may choose to file a complaint with the Federal Office of Civil Rights. These entities will take complaints and will investigate when appropriate. 

Resolving Alleged Discrimination by Another Student

In situations where students allege discrimination by another student, students have the option of filing formal charges under the Non Discrimination policy located in our Policies. Please contact the Office of Student Experience for further information.

Contact Information

Students Experience (Disability Specialist and Vice President of Student Experience located)
Voice: 661-253-7874
Fax: 661-253-7872

Federal Office for Civil Rights
Voice: 800-363-1019
TDD: 800-537-7697
Fax: 312-886-1807