Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Disability Support Services Panel

Disability Support Services Panel

 Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 at 4:30pm-5:30pm in 110 Moon Library
(Class project of facilitators Amelia Hoffman and Lisa--thank you very much for sharing with campus!)

·      Mary Triano, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (Student Support) at ESF

·       Paula Possenti-Perez, Director of Office of Disability Services at Syracuse University

·       Bethany Heaton-Crawford, Assistant Director & Counselor of Office of Disability Support Services at Syracuse University

·       Melissa Stevens & Morgan Harrington, from Elmcrest Special Education Center

Abstract:The panel will engage in discussion about trends in students coming to college, common barriers experienced by students, and about different types of disabilities. The goal is to continue to build awareness about the complexity and diversity that exists within the community and discuss case studies that highlight areas where faculty and staff can engage in eliminate barriers and act as advocates and empower  their students.  We welcome all!

Question posed by facilitators:   Why are IEP, 504 plans (primary and secondary school plans) important?  Documentation of a disability or pre-conditions.  College students are bright; they may have been able to accommodate on their own prior to the more rigorous higher ed curriculum.  Accommodations may change as workload and available technology change.  Terminology also changes with private and public institutions.  About access to the educational environment.  Work with student to create an “Access plan.” In terms of success and satisfaction, navigating the system can create a lot of stress, especially on top of the courseload.  Stigma of disability and fear of faculty response may lead students to choose not to disclose.  In an inclusive environment:  One is disabled by limited access.

In preschool classrooms, it takes a good month to lay groundwork, and several months to see results of accommodations.  

Disability is socially constructed to be not-normal.  In our culture, need to be brave to disclose.  Need to stick out and fail prior to receiving services.  Each transition has a barrier as well, may no longer qualify as move to next aged program.  Intentionality of language can change that.  Accumulated microaggressions reinforce the negative, and it’s internalized.  Accommodation is different and hard word, but it makes a difference.

Universal design—shift in pedagogy and multi-modal design can benefit all students, not just the ones who requires an accommodation.  Eg, closed captioning—everyone can read along, not just the hearing impaired.
Questions from audience:

Beyond the syllabus addition regarding accommodation, what can faculty do to increase their confidence in carrying out those conversations?  Statement asks students to identify elements that might be problematic.  Leave different means to engage students.  Language matters!  Go through syllabus to identify.  Admit—I am not an expert.  I rely on you to let me know what works, and we can figure it out together.  What if a faculty member suspects a disability but it has not been disclosed?  Ask, you seem engaged, but your test grades aren’t reflecting that. Talk to me about the gap. 

What are some common barriers experienced by students?  “I want to try it without”—we want to be respectful of that, but also talk them through because there is a reason(physical, neurological, chemical, whatever) why student is in their office.  Students are also not always aware of all the accommodations available to them; faculty, too.  Answer is:  let’s ask!  Accommodation often requires timeliness and faculty cooperation—like notetaking, alternate format.  Publishers won’t release information without proof of purchase.  Physical construct of classroom can be a barrier—how building or lab is designed. 

Working on an accessibility map so paths are clearer.  Solutions may be moving classrooms, or changing schedules.

Many students have said that they have difficulty disclosing invisible disabilities—what tools might make this easier?  Disability Center can role play that conversation; help them develop a script.  Communicate first electronically.  Each student has a counselor that can act as a liaison.  They would like to work more with faculty and help them understand that there is leadership there to support them so that it is not a “burden.” This is what we can do to help you support ALL students.  Counselor may email, copy student, staying “… will be coming to talk with you.”  How much they have to disclose is a big black hole—students can feel like they need to disclose whole history, or faculty may fear that they know need to be an export on that concern.  Many faculty don’t want that level of detail—they want to know what they can do to help.  How can they know when student is struggling or not?  What conditions will help student learn best?  Sometimes parents haven’t allowed their child to be involved with that conversation through high school because they want to shield child from the stigma, from the difficulty in obtaining their service, etc.  Mindset factor:  “I’m no good at this” but its cognitive distortion due to ineffective strategies.  Tutoring differs between high school and college; there is now expectation that they will have tried to read the chapter prior to session.

What are the percentages of ESF students receiving services?  How does that compare to other places?  Implications to things that are coming through the ranks?  Nationally, about 11%; SU 7%, ESF ~6% (self-reported).  All averages are going up, more students on autism spectrum (esp at STEM schools) because of early interventions.  Technology has come a long way.  Assistive technology isn’t utilized in k-12, which means new students have to learn to use while trying to learn everything else.  Read and Write can be used by all students, so everyone learning together.  At SU, will be getting a lot more veterans.  The more they become savvy about self and benefits of diversity…

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