Photo by Ambrosia Luzius

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is located on the first floor of the Main Classroom and serves 1,600 students with disabilites.

 

March 28, 2017

ODS provides services to aid success of students and staff with disabilities

Andrea Engle is an alternative media specialist. She spends her days on campus transforming text books into braille and audio books. She trains a staff of student assistants to help.

Her group is part of the Office of Disability Services (ODS) which serves approximately 1,600 students and staff.

“It’s a huge process,” Engle says.

She is one of many employees dedicated to ensuring students of all abilities have an equal playing field for success.

The ODS is located on the first floor of the Main Classroom building but staff and resources throughout campus work closely together to provide services that accommodate students with disabilities. The process begins upon admissions by helping students articulate their own needs.

According to Linda Casalina the director for the ODS, college offers different challenges than students have experienced in high school. For the first time, most students using these services are learning to become their own advocates.

They are included in their own success. Students learn to be responsible for defining their own abilities and needs with the help of ODS.

Her department takes time to meet with each of the students it serves to identify the best individual success plan. Students who use the many services and resources available on campus usually spend more hours toward graduation than traditional students.

Some of the options available to help students with disabilities succeed is distraction-reduced testing environments, magnifying machines, and classmates who can share notes.

Each service a student uses takes time to learn. Programs that read text books aloud can take only a few minutes of training to learn.

Software that listens to voices to maneuver through computer tasks or type assignments are constantly learning with the user.

Jeffrey Dell, assistive technology specialist, is tasked with ensuring students not only have the right equipment and software to be successful but know how to use those resources. He was a student himself when he began helping on campus. He would give other students tips while working on his own assignments.

“When you work with a student and you go over something with a student and you see things change,” Dell said, “You can see how much easier it is for a student to do something, that’s when it hits, that’s when I know I’m fine doing this.”



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