By: Benjamin Rickert
Marketing & Communications Dept.
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – This October, Blue Ridge Community College’s Disability Services office joined a growing number of institutions nationwide in adopting a more fitting name: Student Accessibility Services. The change is intended to provide a more comprehensive experience for students – empowering them to explore their options for assistance and, ultimately, better serving them according to their diverse needs.
“Our team feels that the term ‘accessibility’ is much more inclusive and more accurately describes the services our office provides,” said Carolyn Levine, Blue Ridge’s Student Accessibility Services Coordinator.
At Blue Ridge, the Student Accessibility Services department provides academic accommodations, such as note-taking support and extended testing time; accessible course materials; assistive technology; individualized counseling and support; American Sign Language interpreters; coordination with faculty and staff and much more.
But not every student may be aware of the services available to them or whether they qualify, Levine explained.
“Not only is there a stigma associated with the word ‘disability,’ but there are also many misconceptions,” said Levine. “One misconception is that the term disability only applies to severe physical and cognitive conditions. This deters many students who may qualify for accommodations from contacting their disability services offices, because they don’t consider themselves as having a disability.”
Many medical conditions are invisible to others but still impact a student’s daily life, such as autism spectrum disorder, asthma, diabetes and more. The same is true of mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. These students may be qualified to receive assistance that will greatly improve their academic outcomes, resulting in a more accessible higher education experience.
The Student Accessibility Services team stressed that a new name can have other institutional benefits, such as attracting a broader student body, improving communication practices, encouraging compliance with legal requirements and keeping up with technological and ideological progress.
“Our hope is that this change will help promote inclusivity and access for all Blue Ridge students,” added Levine.
Information about the newly renamed program, including steps for students to request accommodations or advising, is now available online at www.blueridge.edu/access.