Many people associate a disability with being blind, deaf, or having any impairment that involves a wheelchair. These disabilities are visibly obvious and often have many support services available.
In universities like Cal State Fullerton, Cal State University policy requires certain services to be available. Some of the most common services include disabled person parking, transcription services like Braille and interpreting services.
They are required to provide services that empower students with disabilities to be able to achieve not only academic success but determination to strive as well.
There are many disabilities, however, that aren’t so obvious and are referred to as “invisible disabilities.” Invisible disabilities can include anything from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, post traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome. These issues are less obvious unless you are the person living with it.
As a campus, CSUF does not differentiate between disabilities, whether it’s physical, such as blindness or mental like attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Any college student with a disability, no matter what it is, will be required to fill out an application for disability support services and will also need a doctor’s note. The student is then assigned a counselor, who they’ll meet with every semester, and are given an accommodation letter to provide to their professors.
CSUF offers many disability resources through the Student Health and Counseling Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, Career Center, WoMen’s Center and more. While there are many services available for students living with a disability, oftentimes people with invisible disabilities feel misunderstood.
Unless you are a counselor on campus or work closely with disability support services, it’s hard to understand why someone who looks “normal,” gets to take an exam in a different location, or why they are granted a longer time on an assignment or test. The number of college students with invisible disabilities continues to grow and oftentimes, students with these disabilities are afraid to speak out about their issues.
It’s not uncommon to be judged or accused of receiving special treatment. Even though the accommodations can be made, universities need to make students feel more comfortable about coming forth about their needs. Students and any employee who truly needs help and struggles with day-to-day activities should be able to utilize all of the resources available to them without feeling discriminated against.
People are afraid to speak up about medical conditions they battle with fear of losing or not getting a job. PTSD, anxiety disorders and many other issues that aren’t so obvious, are still disabilities that people need to be educated on.
While disability resources are available, the bigger issue is helping people realize that there is a such thing as an “invisible disability,” and it isn’t just an excuse people use to get out of doing work.