Feb 13, 2012
By Tessa Dufresne
Ohio University's Office of Disability Services has undergone serious sprucing as of late.
Last year, after the American Disabilities Act (ADA) introduced new standards that expanded the definition of equal access and raised the bar for disability services at state institutions, OHIO's Office of Disability Services took steps to meet and surpass required expectations. The office also moved from Crewson House, which it shared with the Office of Institutional Equity, to a more conspicuous location: Baker University Center.
In January 2012, Carey Busch, former assistant director for the Office of Disability Services, was welcomed as director of Disability Services and regional campus coordinator. In her new position, she strives to increase the office's visibility and create its own identity on campus.
Busch recently sat down with Compass to talk about Disability Services and her goals for the office.
How did you become interested in disability services?
When I was a freshman in college, I did some volunteer work here in town, and it happened to be working with middle school students who had severe disabilities. I think that was the first time I considered working with people one on one, and it peaked my interest about serving students with disabilities.
Along the way, I also started really enjoying working in a college or university setting. So for me, a position with the Office of Disability Service is the best of both worlds: getting to work with some really excellent students who happen to have disabilities and at the same time being within the university setting and helping students through what can be a challenging time.
Was there a moment that solidified your interest in working with disability issues?
It was something I had given consideration. Then on a whim shortly after graduate school, I applied for a position helping people with psychiatric disabilities find and maintain work. I wasn't so sure on my first day. It got off to a challenging start, but I think by the end of that day I really felt like I had found a niche – a place where I really enjoyed what I was doing.
What goals have you set to make the Director of Disability Services and Regional Campus Coordinator positions your own?
I really just want to help the office figure out how we can best work with our new model of staff and how we can use the strengths of individual staff to meet the needs of students. Looking at the long term, I really want to start working a little more closely with deans and department chairs to make sure we're developing and maintaining good relationships with academic departments.
What is your office doing to dispel the notion that wheelchair disabilities are the only form of disability?
Part of it is individual training and education. Our work over the last couple of years with Bobcat Student Orientation has been very helpful in capturing new students. We are also doing more training with staff in different departments and trying to work with Student Senate's Diversity Affairs Commission to expand the image of disabilities.
What does the move from Crewson House to Baker Center mean for Disability Services?
It presents a really interesting opportunity for us. Just being here in Baker has created a lot of awareness and a lot of opportunity for partnering with other offices that are here.
What progress has the Office of Disability Services made since the ADA introduced its new standards in 2010?
Part of the change is that things related to employee accommodations and the campus accessibility and web has moved back to the Office of Institutional Equity. The Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning has moved along in terms of making recommendations campus-wide about how we can be more proactively accessible.