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General Program FAQs

Where is the LAP office located?
On the Santa Maria campus, we’re located in Building A2, on the first floor. In Lompoc, look for us in Building 1, Room 102K. By the way, we’re also known as the Learning Assistance Program.

How do I know if I’m eligible for services?
It’s best to make an appointment with one of our specialists at either the Santa Maria or Lompoc locations. We will be glad to discuss your situation with you.

Do I need to be severely disabled in order to use support services? I’m not, and I’m afraid that I might take something away from somebody else.
It’s not always the severe disabilities that cause the most problems in school. Paraplegia, for instance, may actually pose less of a problem in the classroom than having carpal tunnel syndrome. Any permanent disability or health problem that causes difficulties with your success in school may qualify you for services. In some cases, you may utilize LAP support as the result of a temporary disability.

I’m a Department of Rehabilitation client. How does the LAP work with that agency?
Quite a few DR clients take classes at the college as part of their rehabilitation program. First, you will usually develop your program plan with your DR counselor. Then, as you become a student, we can advise you about the right courses to take, and assist you to stay on track in terms of your educational obligations with DR. However, this is ultimately your responsibility.

I am blind or visually limited, and I need reader services. I am also a Department of Rehabilitation client.
The responsibility for finding readers lies with you, the student. After finding someone who will read for you either in the classroom or outside of class, you will refer him or her to the Department of Rehabilitation. That agency then makes arrangements to pay your reader, and authorizes a certain number of hours per week for the service. Your DR counselor will give you more details on how to do this.

Are there special financial aid services for students with disabilities?
No. However, all students should fill out the general financial aid forms available in the Financial Aid office. The majority of Hancock students qualify for some form of financial assistance.

What about special scholarships?
Each year there are several scholarships available from nonprofit groups that serve individuals with disabilities. However, your chances of receiving a scholarship are probably far better by applying for an Allan Hancock College Foundation Scholarship. Each year, more than $200,000 is awarded to students. Most of the scholarships awarded are not dependent on financial need. Applications are available each fall from the Financial Aid Office.

Does the program provide attendant services?
No. Our services are educational in nature, and students who need attendant services for personal care need to secure those arrangements for themselves.

Do other colleges have these types of support services?
Yes. All California Community Colleges, California State Universities and University of California campuses provide services similar to ours. If you transfer to one of these institutions, we will be happy to help you make contact with the DSS office at that campus, and send any pertinent records at your request.

Are LAP services the same as what I received in high school?
No. The state and federal laws are different between the two systems. Students at the college level are considered adults. See some of the major differences.

Learning Disability FAQs

How do I know if I have a learning disability?
The only way to know for sure is through a series of tests and interviews done in our office. We look at your achievement and ability levels, work and school history, learning style, and any problem areas that interfere with learning. You may start the assessment process by calling to make an appointment (1-805-922-6966 ext. 3274).

How long does the learning disability assessment process take?
Usually about three to five weeks, depending on your availability and how many people are waiting to be tested.

I'm afraid of the results. Does having a learning disability mean I'm not intelligent?
Not at all. Many famous people, like Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, and Whoopi Goldberg, have learning problems. Many of your classmates have been tested and are benefiting from our services. The important thing is to take advantage of the help that is available to you!

I was tested in high school and received some services there. Am I still eligible at Hancock?
Yes. We can help you retrieve the necessary records from your high school. Or, if you have them, bring them in to our office in Building I.

Is there a difference between the services I received in high school and those here at Allan Hancock College?
Yes. In college, you are considered an adult, and you have the responsibility to request services and to participate fully in making your own academic decisions. All students at the college, including students with learning disabilities, take mainstream courses. Click here for more information.

I'm not sure I really have a learning disability. Why not just wait to get an assessment?
Well, you could. However, waiting may jeopardize your academic success. Also, if you wait until you leave us, a private assessment could cost as much as $1000! We're a bargain, and so much more convenient.

Will the services I use here be available when I transfer to a university?
Yes. Services of this kind exist at virtually all public universities, and some private schools. As you prepare to transfer, our counselor and LD Specialists will help you make a smooth transition.

What kinds of services will be available to me?
There are many. The focus of the services, which may include one to one assistance, or access to technology, is tailored to help you be successful. After assessing your learning style, we help you capitalize on your strengths, and avoid the frustrations that may have led to poor results in the past.

Will I need to be tested every semester?
No. Once you become eligible for our services, you will not need to be tested again. However, you do need to meet with a Learning Disabilities Specialist every semester to continue receiving services.

Will my instructors think I can't do the work if I use Learning Assistance services?
Not at all. Our faculty understands learning disabilities and the importance of our support to students. Please do not hesitate to talk with your instructors. They are among our strongest supporters, and they refer students to us on a regular basis.

Faculty FAQs

What is The Learning Assistance Program?
Under federal law, it is the college’s responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. Due to the specialized needs of such students, each community college in California has a campus office that provides this support. The official name for our program statewide is DSP&S, for Disabled Students Programs and Services.

How can the LAP assist me as an instructor?
One of our roles is to guide students in determining what accommodations are reasonable and appropriate for them. Another is to assist instructors, when necessary, to help students when the effects of a disability might compromise their success. Often, instructors are not aware of what may be available to students, or are not sure if what is requested of them may be appropriate. We want to help you understand the nature of our services, and to make sure that you understand why certain things are being requested.

Does “reasonable accommodation” mean lowering course standards for a student?
No. It is expected that when students enroll in a course, they have the ability to succeed. Reasonable accommodations refers to allowing the student to access course materials and to demonstrate his knowledge in a way that does not penalize him simply because of the effects of his disability. For example, a student who is legally blind even with correction needs a reasonable way to access the class text and other materials. In addition, quizzes and exams need to be administered in a way that gives him the same opportunity to show what he knows as his peers.

I’ve heard that some students with disabilities request extra time on exams. Is this fair to the rest of the class? How do I protect the security of my tests?
Providing additional time, up to twice the amount allocated to non-disabled students, may be appropriate for some students in the LAP. This may occur for example if a student has difficulty seeing material, or has limitations when writing or typing. In addition, for some students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, or mental illness, “testing accommodations” are necessary because they may have difficulty processing written information, or writing essay answers. As far as fairness, having extra time doesn’t give students a performance advantage. The security of exams is very important to us. Students using testing accommodations are supervised at all times, and generally are not allowed to transport exams. We have staff members who oversee the entire process once this service is offered to a student.

My curriculum includes a field trip that requires students to walk on trails. What should I do for a student who uses a wheelchair?
First, make the effort to include this student in any way possible. If she can go to the site and participate even to some degree, that would be preferable. If accessible transportation is an issue, the college with advance notification can provide it. If participation is not possible, an alternative task that accomplishes most of the same learning objectives will need to be developed. Please contact us as necessary.

I teach on-line courses. Are accommodations for those students any different than for traditional classes?
For the most part, no, they are usually the same types of accommodations. As with all accommodations, they are based on the students unique circumstances.

How do I know that a student has a disability?
Many serious disabilities are not obvious. If you have questions regarding a student, please contact us. We can let you know if the student is registered with our program, and whether or not the accommodation seems appropriate. However, unless the student specifically authorizes it, we cannot reveal specific disability or personal information.

One of my students has a disability, and I think she would profit from your services. What is the best way to do this?
First, it is always a good idea during course orientations to recommend to students that if they need assistance due to a disability, they should make contact with our program. If you notice that a student is having a problem in class, addressing the issue and asking if she knows about our services is always a good idea. Sometimes students are reluctant to ask for assistance, but your encouragement could make the difference. If you need some guidance as to how to do this, please contact us.

I’m not sure what services you provide, or who I should contact in your office.
Please call our main number 922-6966 ext 3274 and a staff  member will be able to assist you.

If I feel a student’s disability will place him or other class members in danger, can I refuse to have him in the class?
This is a very rare occurrence. Before taking steps to drop a student for this reason, we would suggest that you contact our office to discuss the situation. Excluding students from classes or programs needs to be handled very carefully to protect the student’s rights, you, and the college.

Difference Between High School and College

High School Level Support Services College Level Support Services
The school district is responsible for evaluating and documenting the learning disability. Students are responsible for providing current documentation of their disability to the college.
An IEP meeting is held to determine placement and appropriate services Students working with college professionals will determine if/ and/ or what services are appropriate
Once a disability is documented, services are made available and included in the student's daily schedule. Even after documentation has been provided and appropriate accommodations have been identified, students must request the accommodation each time they are needed. 
Special classes or placements must be available for students Colleges are not required to provide special classes or programs for students with disabilities.
Specific goals and objectives are determined for each student receiving services Students, with input from their advisors, set their own academic goals.
Parents are notified and must give permission for any decisions regarding their son or daughter. Parents are not notified of these services unless the student grants permission for that information to be released.
Teachers, administrators and parents advocate for students. Students must advocate for themselves.
Reevaluation of students is conducted by the school on a regular basis (generally every three years). Reevaluation of a disability is not generally required if a student remains continuously enrolled in the college.