UC Berkeley’s Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP, will be moving to the Dwinelle Hall Annex as the program finds the need to accommodate its growth.
The program is currently stationed within the Cesar Chavez Student Center on Sproul Plaza and will be replaced by various other student services, according to Karen Nielson, executive director of DSP. She added that while the new facility will not be completely open for another three years, it will provide the program with room to fit almost all of its services in one place.
“This move will create a better space for our staff and students and a more welcoming home for DSP,” Nielson said in an email. “We are very excited for the opportunities our new home will afford and look forward to hearing from students about what they would like to see in our new DSP Center.”
The move to the Dwinelle Building Annex will allow the program to bolster in-person services and increase accessibility, Nielson said in the email. She added that by moving locations the program will be able to provide a confidential check-in area, greater space in their waiting room, more private offices and a new lab for DSP’s autism program.
Nielson did note, however, that due to the pandemic and the challenges of remote services, DSP is currently facing a shortage of staff. While she said it is aiming to alleviate this issue through current hiring efforts for the spring term, she also hopes the new location will provide a better environment for staff as well as students.
This shortage in staff has not gone unnoticed by DSP program members. Carlos Vázquez, campus senior and co-chair of the ASUC Disabled Students Commission, said he heard from several members that they have still not received academic accommodations as many as three months into the semester.
“I have heard other students saying they are not getting their accommodations, including extra time and separate rooms,” Vázquez said. “The students are forced to advocate for themselves so they don’t suffer the consequences of not being properly accommodated and not getting a fair education.”
While the move to the new location is still a few years out, Vázquez said that he is looking forward to the opening of a new disability cultural center in the Hearst Field Annex, which he said would be opening in spring 2022.
He added that the new center will provide a “hub” for disabled students to find community, interact and share experiences as disabled students.
“I encourage disabled students to come on over to the new disability cultural center when it is open,” Vázquez said. “With this new space, we can come together and redefine what it means to be disabled on campus, and we can say, ‘OK, we are an identity group — not just a medical label that they tag.’ “