March 12, 2001 Vol. V, No. 12

Getting to Know CSUN's Center on Disabilities

The Center on Disabilities at Cal State Northridge is well known around the country and the world for its much heralded "Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference." But center Director Harry (Bud) Rizer believes many at the Northridge campus still don't quite know what the center does.

"If there's one word that describes what we do, we accommodate people with disabilities," said Rizer, describing the center's work in providing direct support services to about 825 CSUN students with disabilities each year, training others across the country how to do the same, and hosting the conference.

Although the Center on Disabilities was only created in 1993, the university has been hosting the annual conference on technology and disabilities for the past 16 years, and began providing support services to disabled students in the early 1960s - before that became a federal mandate in the 1970s.

The center assists CSUN students with learning disabilities, students who are blind and who have with physical disabilities. (Most deaf students on campus, about 250, are served through CSUN's National Center on Deafness).

For a blind student, that might mean translating textbooks into audio files or Braille format. For students with physical disabilities, it could mean assistance with special adaptive devices. And for all of its disabled student clientele, the center means help with counseling, career planning and other support.

The center operates a special accessible computer lab that is used to evaluate and train disabled students. (Accessible equipment generally also is available in the university's regular computer labs.) And, the center proctors exams for students with special needs, handling 340 such exam takings last semester.

Off-campus, the center offers weeklong summer certificate programs in assistive technologies, this year at seven locations around the country, and has just begun offering specialized symposiums on detailed topics such as federal laws, computer access and assistive technology assessment.

"Because we've been doing this for so long at CSUN, we've been able to build on our program," Rizer said. "The university does have a reputation for having a good program for students with disabilities. Fortunately, there are technologies that we can apply to every one of those disabilities."

@csun | March 12, 2001 issue
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