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Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

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New name, new location, new outlook for Disability Services


Ohio University’s Office of Disability Services has made several transitions toward better serving the OHIO community this year, including changing its name to Student Accessibility Services.

The office has made several other upgrades and additions to its staff and services. One of these included hiring a new disability services advisor, which fully staffed Student Accessibility Services. The office is continuing to hire and fill positions to specifically serve students on regional OHIO campuses.

“With the new hires, everyone can focus on their specific responsibilities and figure out how we function as a team,” said Carey Busch, director of disability services and regional campus accessibility coordinator in the Office of Disability Services. “They have allowed us to focus more on making our processes more student friendly and to try and provide more communication and support to faculty.”

Another key hire has come through the addition of a student employee through the PACE program that allows the office to have a unique student perspective. The student employee’s main responsibility is to assist students with the new technological resources, including Read and Write Gold, Kurzweil, WYNN, and LiveScribe Pens. The recent upgrades and adding different products has offered students great choice in finding a technology that works best for them, has increased independence in the use of technology and has allowed for the greater portability of technology.

The biggest of the technology changes was the lending of LiveScribe Pens to eligible students needing assistance with note taking. Student Accessibility Services hopes to provide these same benefits to all OHIO campuses. The main goal of the changes has been to allow a smooth transition and similar experience across all OHIO branches.

“The changes allow us to share resources around technology and equipment to make sure that the experience a student has on one OHIO campus is as similar as possible to the experience they have on another OHIO campus,” said Busch. “We hope that these changes will particularly be helpful for regional campus students who wish to relocate to Athens or Athens students who choose to complete coursework at a regional campus near their hometown.”

Student Accessibility Services began transitioning into the office it is today back in July 2011, when the office moved from Crewson House to Suite 348 in Baker University Center. The change in location moved the offices to a more central and accessible location on campus.

So far, Student Accessibility Services has received positive feedback regarding the changes. Students have enjoyed the additional supports and choices in technology that the office has implemented.

In the future, Student Accessibility Services plans to build upon the recent changes and continue to better serve the OHIO community, though no additional major changes are planned.

“We hope to continue to grow our partnerships with offices and departments across campuses to help accessibility become a natural part of what we all do,” said Busch. “Most likely we will continue to explore developing choice in technology, supporting career development and outreach to faculty and departments.”

Understanding disabilities at Ohio University

At the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year, the Office of Disability Services has record of over 870 current students with a disability. The type of disability students experience is diverse and often not visibly apparent. Disabilities include not only obvious physical issues, but also a broad range of hidden disabilities such as psychological disorders, chronic health impairments (such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), cancer, HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, and learning disabilities.

The Office of Disability Services helps students with disabilities in a variety of ways; click here to learn more.

The office also has resources and guidance for faculty who have disabled students or who generally want to make their courses more accessible. To get started, visit ohio.edu/disabilities/ and click on "Faculty Resources."