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Letter from President Gordon
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To: University Faculty
      Spring, 1998

From: Milton A. Gordon
          President

Subject: Accessible Learning Environment for CSUF Students with Disabilities

Over the years the University has achieved an impressive record for compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the regulations adopted thereunder. This Act provides that:

"....no qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subject to discrimination under any academic, research, occupational training, housing, health insurance, counseling, financial aid, physical education, athletics, recreation, transportation, other extracurricular, or other postsecondary education program or activity....."

This Act has been strengthened and extended through the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which mandates equal access and treatment of persons with disabilities by all public entities.

Our University is strongly committed to reaffirming this policy and maintaining an environment that guarantees students with disabilities full access to its educational programs, activities and facilities. In supporting our efforts to meet this commitment, I call upon the faculty to be especially sensitive to the needs of this population and particularly to the accommodations needed by students with invisible disabilities, such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder or some significant health disability. As you have witnessed, manifestations of a learning disability are less observable than other forms of disabilities.

Students with learning disabilities often require a level of support at least equal to and often exceeding those students with a more visible disability. A learning disability is defined with the California State University as a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities. These disorders occur in persons of average to superior intelligence and are presumed to be due to central nervous system/neurological dysfunction. The disorder is diagnosed through an extensive battery of individually administered standardized tests by a qualified examiner. Another group of students we are seeing in increasing numbers are those coming to campus with psychiatric disorders which are significant enough to be disabling. These students also present with less observable manifestations and often will have similar needs to those with a learning disability. As with all students on campus, students with disabilities are expected to meet and will be held to the same standards for academic performance and appropriate conduct.

Under the regulations, we are required to make modifications to our academic requirements and practices as necessary in order to ensure that they do not discriminate against an otherwise qualified student with a disability. Such modification is commonly referred to as an academic adjustment or reasonable accommodation. Examples of such accommodations include modification to degree requirements (e.g. time to complete a degree, course substitution/waiver, adaptation in the manner in which the course is conducted). More typical accommodations would include modifications to exams (e.g. length of time, format or use of crib sheets) and use of readers, sign language interpreters, tape recorders or other adaptive technology. An academic adjustment frequently provided to learning disabled students is the granting of additional time to complete examinations. The regulations provide that an evaluation must represent the student’s achievement rather than the student’s disability and, therefore, additional time may be granted except where "such skills are the factors that the test purports to measure."

The California State University was selected as one of the top ten colleges for general excellence in services to students with disabilities in the October 1997 issue of WE magazine, a national publication addressing disability issues. Cal State Fullerton is fortunate to have an exceptional Office of Disabled Student Services (DSS) which was specifically singled out within the CSU for recognition with an honorable mention. The trained professionals in DSS are eager to assist both students and faculty in establishing the appropriate learning environment and academic adjustment. DSS has been delegated the authority to prescribe academic adjustments for all students who have been certified as having a disability. DSS offers the use of proctors, high security examination rooms, extended time examination administration, alternative testing methods, and a wide variety of other auxiliary aids. This office is located in University Hall 101 and the telephone number is extension 3117.

I am confident that together faculty and the various support services will continue to work closely for the benefit of all our students including students with disabilities.

Enclosure
Copies to:

Academic Senate Chair
Vice Presidents
Deans
Directors

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