For most students, succeeding at college isn't easy. Now imagine being a student with limited vision or mobility, autism, or another disability. An estimated 13,650 full-time students with a verified disability were enrolled at a California State University campus in fall 2016. 

 "[The CSU] provides a wide range of support services and accommodations in order to ensure students with disabilities have equal access and opportunity to pursue their educational goals," says Carol Houston, Services to Students with Disabilities High Tech Center coordinator at California State University, Sacramento.

At the csu, you can have a fulfilling academic and social experience while seeking the support you need." - elan cohen, csu monterey bay graduate student, social work

In fact, all 23 campuses offer services that support students with certifiable disabilities so they can achieve both their academic and personal goals.

 These can include:

  • alternate forms of testing and more time for test-taking
  • note-taking services
  • readers or scribes for tests
  • adaptive computer technology
  • alternative media such as a screen reader for the vision impaired
  • tutoring
  • specialized transportation and housing
  • priority registration

"The resources and services provided by Sacramento State and other CSU campuses create an equitable learning environment for students with disabilities," Houston says, adding that serving students with disabilities well connects to the CSU's broader mission of encouraging diversity in all its forms.

But it's not just students who may need guidance, of course. "Our center [also] serves as a resource to faculty and staff who may have questions or concerns about supporting a student with a disability," notes Pamela Starr, Ph.D., director of the Student Ability Success Center at San Diego State University.

At California State University, Monterey Bay, student disability resources advisor Ruthann Daniel-Harteis says that shining a light on these specialized services is crucial so students can use the resources they need as soon as they step on campus.

"There is often the perception of stigma associated with asking for help that can begin as early as elementary school," Daniel-Harteis explains. "Additionally, there are many different cultural beliefs around what it means to have a disability and to seek services, which may also influence a student's connection with available support.

"Making information about these services and resources readily available to the campus and the community makes it more likely that students will discover useful services, persist toward a degree, and not feel singled out due to a disability."

​​​CSU Students Speak

  • Elan.jpgElan Cohen, 28, social work (graduate program), CSU Monterey Bay: "I came to understand the breadth of how my disability affected me after entering higher education. When I realized the value of my education, and my drive to complete my education, I sought services at Student Disability Resources (SDR). I was determined … but there were some barriers I wasn't able to overcome on my own. In working with SDR, I was able to identify the appropriate accommodations to bypass barriers created by my disability, specifically barriers that blocked my ability to demonstrate my knowledge during test-taking … Through my education at CSUMB, I have acquired and continue to acquire, the skills, values and perspectives needed to effectively work in diverse communities."

  • Arascena.jpgArascena Fong, 21, communications, San Diego State: "Having these resources can help prevent students from failing their classes and build their self-confidence. The advice that I would give to a prospective student with a disability is, be the best that you can be. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses; do not compare your abilities to your peers and classmates. Accept your abilities as they are and believe in your abilities. Do not struggle alone and utilize the resources that are available."

  • Henridge-Holloway-2-18.jpg
    Henridge Holloway, vocational rehabilitation, Sacramento State:
     "Sac State has a great disability program, good accommodations and good high-tech center. Services to Students with Disabilities has a good presence on campus with administration and other departments so students do not get lost in the system."

  • Savannah.jpgSavannah Orth, 19, chemistry, San Diego State: "As a student with severe allergies and a compromised immune system, being able to have my own room was essential. The Student Ability Success Center helped me get a single dorm room that is accessible for my wheelchair and service dog, and that is also close to the center of campus. The environment both on campus and in classes is overwhelmingly positive, and that supportive atmosphere has made me so confident in my own capabilities; these resources truly do help students achieve their fullest potential."