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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Students shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of the SSD office

Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian

As a student with Cerebral Palsy, I currently receive amenities from the  Services for Students with Disabilities program (SSD) at Fresno State.

I receive test taking accommodations, SCOUT transportation and note-taking services. These services are vital to my academic success because they give me simple accommodations that help me stay on track and even sometimes help me stay ahead in my studies. I would say they also help me feel more confident with multiple assignments, especially when taking exams.

I joined SSD in Fall 2022, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had questions that many newcomers typically do when first joining SSD. Those questions and concerns were quickly satisfied.

The staff that works closely with me to provide me my services are tremendously helpful and wonderful people. Since I stepped foot on the Fresno State campus, I feel assured I can go to SSD staff to get any support I need. They care about students’ educational life and even personal life to a great extent.

I can say I am grateful to have joined SSD and receive the support from the program.

The SSD office at Fresno State should not be underestimated for what they can do to help students on campus.

SSD operates with one goal in mind, which is to help disabled students on campus feel comfortable with their surroundings as well as support them by providing resources when needed.

SSD offers a wide variety of resources, ranging from test taking services, note-taking services, priority registration, SCOUT transportation services and tutoring for all university subjects.

The SSD program has an office on campus where students can reach out for resources.

The office is located on the first floor of the library, just left of the south elevators. The office is open during university hours, and anyone can go in there and ask questions if needing assistance.

SSD hopes to serve all students, but some students on campus are not familiar with SSD or how to access or apply for the program.

This is something the staff is trying to change and reach out to the many students on campus that can benefit from the program, hoping to make them aware of all the services that the program can offer them.

For this story, I interviewed Jennie Johnson, the Director of the SSD program. I asked her a wide variety of questions concerning the program, specifically what the program is about and what benefits students can get from the program.

How does Johnson describe the SSD program in her own words?

“We offer academic accommodations to students,” Johnson said. “We basically put our students at the same playing field as their peers.”

Johnson’s mission statement for SSD:

As I conducted my interview with Johnson, one of my goals was to understand the mission of the SSD program as well as how it would encourage an incoming freshman, or a student who needs the services, to believe in what they stand for. Here’s what she had to say:

“We are a resource for students with disabilities to achieve academic, social and cultural excellence,” she said.

I asked Johnson to expand on her statement and explain how the SSD staff connects to their students.

She said that a student’s individualized needs will help them to determine how to connect with their students.

“Every accommodation is different for each student. When they come and speak to us we have a conversation with them and try to develop their goals and plan to be part of the SSD program,” Johnson said. “We attempt to include the student in everything we do.”

How many students does SSD serve?

Johnson said the office serves more than 900 students.

That number, however, only equates to less than 3% of the entire academic population in the state of California. Johnson also shared that the U.S Department of Education states that there are about 19 percent of students with disabilities on a higher education level.

“I definitely want to see an increase in the number of students we serve,” Johnson said.

How does someone officially join SSD?

The process that one has to complete to officially join SSD can be a lengthy one depending on what services an individual is requesting.

Johnson said that the best thing for a new applicant to do is to go into the office and speak with someone. Documentation is helpful, but not required. Those documents could include an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

Johnson also said she wishes that she could “reach out to students while they are still in high school” so they can remember to hold on to any important documents they may need to apply.

How to access resources and links:

Each service offered by SSD can be accessed a little differently from one another.

Most services, like note-taking services or test-taking services, or even furniture requests to be placed in a student’s classroom, can be accessed through the “MySSD” portal.

On the SSD directory page, students can find out more on how to access services, how to apply for SSD and any other information they may need. If a student feels the need to call the office for any questions, call (559)278-2811.

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