Stay up to date with Disability Compliance for Higher Education

  • Hear directly from disability service providers about how they've dealt with specific issues
  • Know your options for providing the most effective accommodations
  • Find out how the Office for Civil Rights is ruling on issues
  • Discover other institutions' programs for serving students with disabilities.
Use discount code DHEW5 and SAVE 20% SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Other Products of Interest

Campus Legal Advisor
cuts through the jargon to give you plain-English summaries of the latest higher ed court cases and regulatory rulings plus articles on what you need to know when creating and enforcing policies that affect your students and staff. Read More
Student Affairs Today
is part of the Jossey-Bass higher education newsletter series featuring innovative best practices for student affairs units plus lawsuit summaries to keep institutions out of legal hot water. It is available in print, online and as a PDF delivery. Read More
Accessibility
3/17/2016 12:00 AM

Ensuring that your campus is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards for online courses and technology accessibility can help your institution avoid hefty fines.

Managing Your Office
1/19/2016 12:00 AM

When Rebecca Mathern of Oregon State University was given the task of restructuring her admissions office, she made it a priority to keep her focus on getting the right people in place to boost the success of students at her university.

Student Success
12/17/2015 12:00 AM

My previous article offered suggestions to help you encourage students to register with your office as soon as they enroll. Think about who might help you in such an effort, and get creative.

A Brief Conversation with … Michelle Meyer
2/17/2016 12:00 AM

Students with learning differences often benefit from extra support as they transition to college, where they are expected to be independent and self-directed. Michelle Meyer, director of the Disability Services Office at Centenary College of New Jersey, discussed how Project ABLE helps them make the transition. ABLE stands for Academic Bridges to Learning Effectiveness.

Students with learning differences often benefit from extra support as they transition to college, where they are expected to be independent and self-directed. Michelle Meyer, director of the Disability Services Office at Centenary College of New Jersey, discussed how Project ABLE helps them make the transition. ABLE stands for Academic Bridges to Learning Effectiveness.

Q: Please describe the services students receive through Project ABLE.

A: Project ABLE is a comprehensive support service program for students with learning differences who are enrolled at Centenary, to help them transition from the structured high school experience to independence in college and in the work force. Students pay a fee to participate and can remain in the program throughout college.

It includes four components:

  1. Weekly meetings. Staff members help students create a learning plan and work with them each week on time management, study skills, choosing courses, setting appointments with faculty, and whatever else they need.
  2. Bridges. This interpersonal skills group meets once a week for about 10 weeks during the semester. It is facilitated by two learning specialists but is student-run. Students choose topics to discuss and give each other advice.
  3. Professional content-based tutoring. All Centenary students have the option for tutoring, but Project ABLE students have access to academic support during hours set aside just for them.
  4. STEP Ahead summer program. Students live on campus for a month to help with the transition to college life. They take remedial English and learn study skills.

Q: How are students chosen for the program, and how many students a year does it serve?

A: The program has its own application, which students complete in addition to the application for admission to the college. Along with the application, they provide a copy of their Individualized Education Program or other support plans, documentation of medical and psychological testing, high school transcripts, etc. Applicants send those directly to the Disability Services Office to protect their privacy. Applicants are asked if disability services and admissions may share information about them, and about 95 percent say yes. Meyer has access to the admissions portal so that she can learn who was admitted.

To be selected to the program, students must document a specific learning difference that officials know they can remediate with academic support. Some students have autism spectrum disorder and some have specific learning differences.

About 20 to 25 students per year are accepted to Project ABLE, and this year the program serves about 100 students. Officials limit participation in the summer program to 12 to 15 students. For some students, acceptance to the college is based on their summer participation.

Q: What impact has the program had on participants?

A: Overall, students do really well. Their average GPA is 2.8. Those who are motivated and take advantage of the benefits do especially well. Students have completed prestigious internships, and many have gone on to master’s programs.

Email Michelle Meyer at meyerm02@centenarycollege.edu.

Conversation With: Emily Shryock
4/7/2015 12:00 AM

Emily Shryock, the assistant director of services for students with disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin, has used social media extensively to conduct outreach for her office and create greater awareness on campus about how it helps students with disabilities.

Emily Shryock, the assistant director of services for students with disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin, has used social media extensively to conduct outreach for her office and create greater awareness on campus about how it helps students with disabilities.

Q: How and why did you get interested in the use of social media as an outreach tool for your unit?

A: I began exploring social media about two years ago. We had a blog on our website, but I was already using Facebook personally, so I wanted to experiment with using it professionally to maintain timely communication with our students and create awareness of what was going on in an informal, engaging way.

I also wanted to engage others on campus, such as students who don’t have disabilities but who, for whatever reason, had an interest in disability. With Facebook, they could take what we post and share those items with their own networks. We now have also started using Twitter as well.

Q: What has been the outcome of your social-media efforts?

A: One unexpected but positive outcome was that we’ve really been able to extend our reach and create partnerships with other campus groups and community organizations that we otherwise would not have had an audience with. Connecting with those groups has allowed us to broaden the reach of our postings, because when they share our posts they reach all of their followers. And internally, it has contributed to creating a more connected campus and generating awareness of what my office does.

Having those connections has also meant that getting content to post regularly is never a problem. Particularly when it comes to community organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, what they post are often things that we know would be of interest to our students, so we can just share.

Q: What advice would you give someone at another institution looking to do the same thing?

A: Start small and start with what you’re comfortable with. Just because you say you’re going to do social-media outreach doesn’t mean that you have to do all kinds of social media at once to start.

For a while, I was just posting to Facebook and learning, and not necessarily advertising that we had a Facebook page. It was a couple of months before we actively began advertising our page. I wanted time to get familiar with how everything worked. With Twitter, I did the same thing — quietly posting content while figuring out how to use the platform effectively.

When we were ready to go public, we included information about our social-media efforts in our newsletter and added links to our website and email signature lines. Liking other groups’ pages and inviting students and others to “like” us also helped.

Prioritize what will go on your Facebook page and Twitter feed, because there’s a lot of content out there. For us, anything from our office gets priority, followed by university and community events, and then national and international items related to disability. And post often, so things stay fresh and you keep people engaged. We post three to five times a week, and it takes no more than five to 10 minutes to post.

Also, maintain consistency. I do all the social-media posting for our unit for that reason. At the same time, we’re very intentional about representing different kinds of disabilities equally in our postings.

For more information, you may contact Emily Shryock at emily.s@austin.utexas.edu.

Conversation With: Melanie V. Tucker
3/10/2015 12:00 AM

Melanie V. Tucker, the assistant vice president for student affairs at Northern Illinois University, spearheaded efforts to implement the principles of universal design across her unit and campus.

Melanie V. Tucker, the assistant vice president for student affairs at Northern Illinois University, spearheaded efforts to implement the principles of universal design across her unit and campus. Below, she explains her motivations for doing so, and the outcomes.

Q: What got you interested in universal design applications for student affairs departments?

A: Prior to my current role, I served as the director of two disability resource centers, so I was very familiar with universal design to begin with. When I stepped into my current role, I realized that implementing some universal design strategies across my department was a way to not only contribute to retention initiatives, but also to increase partnerships across campus. I was particularly moved to do this by research about student persistence when students feel valued and included in their campus communities, and I wanted to move us away from the compliance and medical model toward a social justice model.

Q: How have you specifically promoted the principles of universal design within student affairs?

A: My division puts on professional development conferences each year for us and our partners across campus. I use that opportunity to conduct training for staff from offices within my department, as well as other areas of the institution, on how to infuse universal design into what they do.

Part of what I love about universal design is that it just makes sense. Once people get that universal design doesn’t have to be real complicated, there’s this sort of lightbulb moment, and suddenly they start looking at all of the things they do, down to the very basics, like how they market programs and events. For instance, do they place fliers on bulletin boards across campus? Well, that doesn’t work for everyone. So they then start considering how they might do such things differently to create inclusion.

Sometimes, people also find that what they’re already doing is in line with the principles of universal design, and so they see off the bat that being inclusive can be easy, and it doesn’t necessarily mean any added work.

Q: What advice would you have for someone at another institution looking to emulate your efforts?

A: Find allies across campus. Those folks could be faculty members or colleagues from other departments. Knowing who has people’s ears can make a big difference, because as a UD advocate, I can’t be in every meeting or at every table.

Invite people to come and have a conversation about universal design. Once you create some excitement around the topic, it will spread. Other departments have started inviting me to their departmental meetings to talk about what universal design would look like within their divisions.

And approach the conversation from a perspective that offers broad appeal. For instance, explain how inclusion creates a welcoming environment that promotes retention, not just for students with disabilities, but for all students. Don’t frame universal design as being a cure-all, but rather one more tool we can use to positively impact retention.

Counter resistance before it comes up. For example, talk about how, sure, some things can cost a lot of money, but there are many others that would cost little or nothing at all and can make a huge positive impact.

For more information, you may contact Melanie V. Tucker at mthompson3@niu.edu.

  • LOGIN HERE

    Username: Password:
  • Content Directory

    DHE subscribers can now log in to browse all articles online!
    Browse Content
    Free Content
  • Free E-Alerts

    Sign up to receive exclusive content and special offers in the areas that interest you.
    Send
  • Subscription Formats

  • Meet the Editor

    Joan Hope
    Managing Editor

    Joan Hope became editor of Disability Compliance for Higher Education in 2014. She brings years of experience in higher education and journalism to her work.

    Joan taught writing and literature courses for eight years at colleges and universities including Indiana University at Bloomington, Clark University, and Houston Community College. As a freelance journalist, she published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines and reference books.

Copyright © 2000-2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. or related companies. All rights reserved.