Office of Disability Services accommodates student needs

The Office of Disability Services is “a safe place for students to come to figure out how to be successful in school and on campus,” according to Christine Longbottom, a graduate assistant in the office. The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is a place where students may receive accommodations for their specific learning needs, from learning disabilities to anything else that may impact their studies. All of these services are delivered on an individualized, case-by-case basis, according to the Office of Disability Services website.

The Office of Disability Services’ graphic address some of the challenges students face. (Image from the Office of Disability Services website)

Disabilities can range from hearing and vision challenges, to time management, organizational and test-taking help, to a specific learning disability, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia.

The ODS has staff members who are willing to help students by approving their accommodations and notifying their faculty about the specific accommodations needed. Helping students get in touch with their professors and communicate their struggles and needs is one of the office’s primary jobs. Their primary goal is to help students be successful in each professor’s class.

The ODS allows students to take a test in the office, located in Garrison Hall, with extended time, if this is a part of the student’s needs. The ODS also offers help for students who struggle with organization and time management, which are important skills students develop throughout college to become successful in the world of work.  The office also offers a concise page of “Tips for Online Success” on the website here.

Most students who have dealt with learning disabilities have done so for most of their life. Attending college doesn’t mean that students will grow out of their disabilities. Will Smith, a student-athlete at Stevenson University, said, “The ODS has helped me throughout my journey of being a student-athlete, and is always helping me stay organized while balancing lacrosse and being a student. I have always struggled with this kind of stuff and this really make my days easier.”

The ODS helps students in specific ways that address each one’s challenges. Anyone who meets the accommodations requirements may seek help and this includes residential life as well as the need for a service animal.

The ODS shares the same office as Student Success which is located in Garrison Hall South. (Photo from www.stevenson.edu)

According to Longbottom, “Our location in the in the Office of Student Success in Garrison Hall South, room 125, across from the coffee shop. We typically ask students to check in there at the front desk to ensure someone from the ODS team has an appointment with them or has time to meet with walk-in appointments. The Office of Student Success desk staff will let us know there is a student there for us.” Office hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 5-9 p.m.

What motivates the ODS staff to provide this type of service for students? Longbottom explained, “I am still a student myself and was just an undergrad last year. I remember being in their shoes. Even though I don’t have a disability, I remember the stress of being an undergrad, pulling all-nighters, doing group projects and taking tests. So, if I can be a person who helps take away even a little bit of that stress, it’s totally worth it. I also love meeting with students and just getting to know them and watching them succeed in everything they do.”

Stevenson offers this service for students with disabilities so they can be successful and happy on their journey through college while trying to balance school, a social life, and any extra activities in which they are involved.

The ODS staff includes Katey Earle, director, Disability Services; Kim Forthuber, Disability Services Specialist; and two graduate assistants, Dylan Harris and Christine Longbottom.

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