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DRC doesn’t make college easier, but helps meet students’ needs

December 15th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

By Max Parker Dahl

LOGAN–Utah State University student David Stewart is a typical undergraduate who enjoys socializing, being involved with on-campus groups and activities, and attentively attending classes. Self-described as motivated, outgoing and eager to learn, Stewart has changed majors a couple of times, recently from horticulture to journalism. He is a 24-year-old sophomore with severe attention deficit disorder (ADD).

“My first year of college I failed every test, and it wasn’t for lack of studying. When people were finished with their test and were walking down to turn in their papers I wasn’t able to focus anymore, it was too much.”

Stewart utilizes the USU Disability Resource Center for testing accommodations where a quiet room without distractions and extra time is provided to help mitigate his ADD. “My test scores have improved since I’ve started using services,” he said, “so my all around grade in all my classes have obviously risen.”

As of Dec. 8, there are 724 students who use services through the Disability Resource Center. Staffing is three to four counselors, two of which are interpreters for students with auditory disabilities. While a ratio of counselors to students equates to 362 per counselor, Stewart reports that he feels valued and accountable to his counselor, Chris Lord.

“These services make me value my testing more,” said Stewart. “To know that I’m using someone else’s time and resources as well, that it’s not just me that is counting on me to be there on time to take the test. I don’t want to let Daleen (King, the testing coordinator) down or my counselor Chris Lord down; whenever I don’t show up it’s like I’ve wasted their time. They help me jump through hoops, and I want to respect that.”

Services available for those who qualify include priority registration for classes, accommodations for testing, printed materials in alternate formats for blind or dyslexic students, note-takers for classes, assistive technology, sign-language interpreter services, equipment loan such as calculators or screen magnifiers, as well as library and lab aides. DRC is unable to provide equipment for personal use including wheelchairs and hearing aids.

“The services that are offered at the DRC are not unique nationally, it is the way we help our students with these services we offer,” said Diane Baum, director of the DRC. “It doesn’t make school any easier, but it helps getting your needs met much easier. That’s the goal.”

According to Baum, the Disability Resource Center at Utah State University is one of the oldest programs, and one of the most well respected due to a federal grant that allowed research and a program to be developed to educate faculty through the premier special education program at Utah State. The program is currently used as training for faculty for 82 institutions across the country and internationally.

A key component to the success of the program is the accountability that students have to the center and themselves.

“Many students say ‘I couldn’t have done it without the support’ but they need to find a way to make that happen,” said Baum. “Each student needs to take responsibility for their success.”

Students are required to providing proper documentation to qualify for the services at the Disability Resource Center Services, including documentation from medical professionals that explain their limitations. Once students qualify for services at the center, they are required to inform their professors of the accommodations that are available and return a signed acknowledgment form in order to have the services available.

Students can volunteer for services, or can be recommended by faculty, roommates or friends

“Some incoming freshmen have used some form of services from Kindergarten through their senior year and come looking for us,” said Baum. “Others get into trouble after they are in college classes are referred to our office.”

Students are welcome to come in for an intake meeting to discuss any difficulties they may have, and to see what services are offered to help.

“I was referred by a friend and inquired if I could qualify,” Stewart said. “Once I found out that I qualified, my doctor was more than willing to help. I put off going in to the DRC for a full two semesters, and I wish I would’ve gone in much earlier. They are so helpful! We made a plan to enable me to be a better student, and Chris has helped me with extra support at the beginning of each semester or any time in between.”

The DRC is located in University Inn 101, east of the Taggart Student Center, and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available at http://www.usu.edu/drc.


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