Resources for Disabled Students

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions that are frequently asked.  If you have other questions, please contact RDS-FAQ.

How Many Students have Disabilites at CSU?

What Types of Disabilities are Represented?

Why is the Office called Resources for Disabled Students? 


How Many Students have Disabilities at Colorado State University?

The total number of students with disabilities on campus for each semester is unknown since their presence is only recognized when they self-identify and their name is known to Resources for Disabled Students (RDS).  Because not all students with disabilities need accommodations, some students may not identify themselves to either the university or RDS.  The majority of students identified through RDS are through direct contact and self identification. Only a handful of students may not have been seen personally by RDS staff but have otherwise self-identified to the university as having a disability . The range of known students with disabilities on campus is approximately 1800 to 2200 students per semester, depending upon what disabilities are counted.  Some students with less severe chronic health conditions (e.g., asthma, celiac, etc) normally do not require specific support from RDS.   However, all students who identified themselves to the university and/or RDS as having a permanent or temporary disability are known by RDS if only by name.

Student often identify with RDS when first arriving on campus. However, many students do not self-identify until they are faced with a problem or anticipate one. Some students who suddenly find themselves struggling in this environment have been found to have undetected disabilities, the limitations of which they have been able to cope until challenged by specific course work or material. In addition, since some disabilities are acquired, there may be students who become disabled while enrolled. This includes both permanent disabilities as well as temporary ones.

In support of the university's overall commitment to retention, RDS will provide support services to students with temporary disabilities as long as resources to do so are available.  This provision support is limited to one full semester or until the service is no longer needed.

What Types of Disabilities are Students Likely to Have?

Students with mobility, visual, hearing, learning, and with chronic health conditions attend CSU. The majority of students who identify themselves with a disability have permanent limitations. However, RDS has also worked with students with temporary limitations such as broken legs or short hospitalizations.

Mobility, visual, and hearing disabilities are usually readily recognizable. Mobility impairments include the difficulty of moving from one place to another, use of hands or arms, or simply accessing buildings, classrooms, or other locations. Visual impairments often result in difficulties with print material in different degrees - ranging from those who need things slightly enlarged to those who need an alternative to print material (e.g. audio or tactile). Hearing limitations range from the need to use hearing aids and speech reading to the need to communicate through alternative methods (i.e. sign language).

The other conditions identified as disabilities might be less obvious and include mental health conditions and other physical conditions such, epilepsy, severe asthma or allergies and food intolerances, chronic pain, cardiac limitations, etc.   Students with learning disabilities also blend into the general student population; these disabilities are a result of conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Central Auditory Processing Deficit (CAPD), Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS), head injury and conditions associated with the autism spectrum.  While some less visible health conditions may require little accommodation, students with these disabilities may still find themselves facing attitudinal barriers. RDS acts as an advocate for all students, regardless of the type of disability or condition presented. 

The following gives a snapshot of the type of disabilities/conditions represented by CSU's disabled student population as of Fall, 2012:

Visual                 25               Learning               178               Mental Health               249
Blind                     6              CAPD                      22               Autism Spectrum            41
Hearing              31               ADD/ADHD          518               Chronic Health              117
Deaf                     5               Head Injury             75               Diabetes                         39
Mobility               83              Dyslexia                109               Epilepsy                          26
Wh.chair User     11             SSS/Irlens               90              Asthma/Allergies           315
Temporary          33             Suspected LD        229              Peanut/Gluten               122

The majority of students self-identified on campus are those with disabilities affecting their ability to learn or process information (i.e., those with learning disabilities, some mental health).  However, even though the number of students in other categories is not large, certain disabilities may require extensive advocacy support (e.g., those with autism spectrum conditions or mental health) or accommodative services (e.g., those who are deaf or have visual limitations including blindness).

Why is the office named Resources for Disabled Students?

The title of our office is based on a philosophical stance that disability is simply another human characteristic.  Having one is no different than possessing any of the other human characteristics that exist.  While it does not define a person, it does signify the commonality a person may have with others.  In addition, while some chronic health conditions are not considered 'disabilities', we see the commonality among any one who has a physical, mental, or emotional characteristic that may affect how others regard them and/or marginalize their existence.

Although we work with students with disabilities and other physical/mental health related conditions, we also are committed to the larger issue of social justice for the community of disabled individuals.  In this respect, we differentiate between the personal identify as a person with a disability or specific condition and that of the collective identity as disabled people.  Since we do not stigmatize the word "disabled" but merely see it as a signifier of a particular population (much like Asian students or black/African-American students), we use the term 'Disabled Students' as way to describe students as part of a collective.  Therefore, the name of the office is primarily a recognition of the socio-political aspect of our role on campus.

We believe that students with disabilities and other physical/mental health related conditions have a right to be here and that the environment can make it difficult for them to fulfill their needs as students.  These needs are viewed not as special but as the normal needs of any student.  However, the educational system has not been designed to take into consideration the uniqueness of each student.  As a result, in order for disabled students to have equal opportunity to pursue their academic goals, accommodations are necessary to adapt the environment for a more hospitable fit.

While we do provide specific services to students, the totality of our office mission is to be a resource for the whole of the university in better addressing the issues related to disability as a social construct.  Advocacy on behalf of students and awareness of disability issues are as important to us as are the accommodations we put in place for students. 


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