May 112003
Authors: Nick Loomis

This week is sometimes the most feared on the academic calendar.

For students, final exams are as certain as the bubble sheets they are taken on and as necessary as the nights spent cramming for them.

Some students, however, have more difficulty than others.

Students who have difficulty with test taking, whether it is a result of stress, injury or learning disability, have no shortage of sympathy and understanding on CSU’s campus and help is available, no matter when one might need it.

“This time of year is definitely the busiest for us,” said Karin Bright, testing coordinator for the Resources for Disabled Students office at CSU.

Bright, whose job is to proctor exams for students who receive alternative testing methods, finds time to assist students in communication with professors, provide students with one-on-one counseling and make referrals to one of the other educational services that RDS works closely with.

If necessary, RDS will even provide readers to students with dyslexia or vision impairment and scribes to students who cannot write due to injury or physical disability.

“We can definitely find out what this office can do to help you,” Bright said while ending a telephone conversation with a student.

Other divisions of the University Counseling Center, like the Help/Success Center or Academic Advancement, also help students with their educational needs if their problems result from test anxiety or poor study skills, rather than a disability.

The Learning Assistance Center, which works very closely with RDS, provides unlimited counseling to any student who requests it, whereas RDS provides service on a provisional basis for one semester while a diagnosis of disability is rendered. If the student is diagnosed with a learning disorder, then RDS will continue its services.

Offices like RDS and the Learning Assistance Center were established at universities all over the country as a result of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This item of federal legislation states that no individual will be denied participation in or benefits of any federally subsidized program on the basis of his or her disability alone.

Prior to this legislation, which serves to “level the playing field” by providing equal access to all, students did not have these educational resources and were often deemed unfit for higher education, according to retired CSU sociology professor Stan Eitzen.

“Many people chose not to go to school and defined themselves as dumb or incapable to do the work,” Eitzen said. “These (disabilities) have only been recognized in society in the past two to three decades and schools like CSU could finally accommodate these students with programs and offices like RDS.”

Eitzen, who taught at CSU from 1974 to 1995, went on to testify that learning disabilities like attention deficit disorder and dyslexia are not a measure of intelligence and that Thomas Edison suffered from dyslexia and was “obviously very smart.”

CSU history professor Frank Towers’ cooperation with Help/Success Center yields positive results with students who are having difficulties in his classes, as long as the student makes his or her problem known, in which case “it’s usually not too hard to work out an accommodation.”

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