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A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - October 2019

By Mary Jane Chew

Teaching and Learning

Disability Resource Center realigns staff, improves communications

The staff of the Disability Resource Center (DRC) has made several changes it believes will improve the Purdue experience for students, faculty and staff.

One of the most significant changes is the restructured alignment of access consultants by college. Access consultants work directly with students to determine appropriate accommodations and with faculty on how to implement those accommodations.

“With this alignment of consultants by college,” said Randall Ward, director of the Disability Resource Center, “we feel this will allow them to develop a better understanding of the unique aspects of the majors our students are enrolled in and the classes they take. As a result, the access consultants will gain a deeper understanding of the design and delivery of the courses for which they are determining reasonable accommodations.”

Ward said a redesigned website was also a priority.

“We have created specific tabs with pertinent information about resources and services for our different constituencies,” Ward said. “Our goal is to facilitate easier access for all.”

According to Jenna Rickus, associate vice provost for teaching and learning, the improvements are welcomed and timely as the number of students in need of accommodation is rising.

“We are seeing the overall number of students with disabilities rise at Purdue and on college campuses in general,“ Rickus said. “Part of the reason more students are arriving on campus is a result of improved services in the K-12 system. It’s important to acknowledge that the access consultants do not diagnose disability but rely on documentation to establish disability. The department also does not offer medical services, but does make referrals as necessary.”

Rickus also points to Department of Justice data that attributes the increase – in part – to more frequent and earlier diagnoses of disabilities and the diminished stigma of identifying as a person with a disability since the passage of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.

The Disability Resource Center is also hosting Disrupting Discourses: A Disability Culture Series. For more information click here .

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