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The Daily Wildcat

 

Disconnect with Disability Resource Center proves detrimental

A+student+enters+the+Disability+Resource+Center+with+his+dog+on+Nov.+14.+The+DRC+serves+UA+students+with+disabilities%2C+but+some+students+think+there+is+a+lack+of+communication+between+DRC+employees%2C+UA+faculty+and+the+students.
Owen Forest

A student enters the Disability Resource Center with his dog on Nov. 14. The DRC serves UA students with disabilities, but some students think there is a lack of communication between DRC employees, UA faculty and the students.

The UA Disability Resource Center works with students who may need certain accommodations in academics and campus life, but some students are saying there are communication failures between the DRC and students.

While the DRC helps many students at the UA, some students are expressing concerns that are a result of a disconnect between the DRC, faculty around campus and the students.

Jessica Meilech, a pre-business freshman, said the DRC is a wonderful resource and she is happy with all the help she is receiving, but that the communication and promotion from all ends could be stronger.

“There is a real lack of communication between students, teachers and the DRC,” Meilech said. “I am a good self-advocate, so I’ve managed to make it work, but I know there’s probably a lot of kids that are [struggling], even with this program as a really good support system.”

Some of the accommodations for students who require DRC help do not happen fast enough, Meilech said, such as note-taking. Students can receive class notes for each day from a designated note taker, so they can stay focused in class and still get the content on paper.

The process, however, takes time and can be delayed while the school year is already moving forward and assignments and notes have already begun.

“I use it mostly for academics, but just even in the beginning [and] getting access,” Meilech said, “They don’t start it before school, so you have to wait a couple weeks to get a note taker and testing accommodations, and by that time you’re three weeks in.”

Meilech also said she fears the divide between the DRC, the faculty and the students will cause students to not be as successful as the DRC has hoped and strived for.

“It has just taken a lot of me going to talk to the teachers and self-advocacy on my part, and I know that probably some students are just slipping through the cracks,” Meilech said. “I don’t have any real solutions … but as far as fair and equal access? Not exactly totally equal.”

Other students have also expressed concerns, but believe it may not be the DRC that need solutions, but rather the faculty. Amanda Martinez, a pre-journalism junior, said she feels that many of her teachers do not work with her accommodation if the class runs a certain way.

“The only thing I find difficult with having accommodations is talking to professors, especially in language classes,” Martinez said. “A lot of it is speaking and that’s one of the problems that I have, so it sometimes is a little hard to talk to professors and advocate for yourself.”

Martinez said she thinks the DRC could improve its advocating for students.

“I think that maybe the DRC staff could reach out to you more, but I do understand that there are so many students that need help,” Martinez said. “If you need help, you have to reach out to them.”

According to its mission statement, the DRC wishes to provide equal access and resources around campus and in the classroom for all students that need special attention or help. The DRC offers resources, such as note-taking and extended time for exams and tests.

Amanda Kraus, associate director of student development and accommodations at the DRC, said she is proud of the work the DRC does and feels that it is working toward an all-inclusive campus. Kraus said the UA has been committed to making the campus more accessible and that there is a strong link between the DRC and the rest of the UA.

“This program is certainly one to be proud of,” Kraus said.

The DRC, according to Kraus, works with over 2,200 students a year, with only 33 people on staff.

“Personally, I am proud of the progressive way we think about disability,” Kraus said in an email statement. “We believe that the environment bears the responsibility for access and, as much as we can, we work systemically to remove barriers to access.”

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Follow Benny Sisson on Twitter.

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