Salt Lake Community College is making every attempt to foster inclusion and provide equal access to all of its students.
Every semester, the Disability Resource Center assists more than 2,000 students with accommodations or accessibility services. Its staff typically consists of around 30 people at any given time, but fluctuates based on student needs and turnover.
SLCC humanities instructor Ananda Spike says she’s glad the resource exists.
“College is already hard, so let’s help out those that might need a little extra help,” she says.
Spike typically has two or three students a semester who use the DRC services within her classes. The DRC program, she says, “benefits most students.”
The DRC offers assistance to students with a variety of disabilities, including mental disorders, hearing or vision impairments, and physical conditions.
Services provided by the DRC include testing accommodations, such as more time or quieter rooms for testing; adaptive equipment, such as smart pens, digital recorders or talking calculators; alternative text materials, like braille, Kurzweil or text in audio; note takers; assistive technology; and service animals, as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to DRC interim director Faye Edibiri, services also include over 150 textbooks that have been converted into accessible formats, including 6,850 hours of American Sign Language interpreting services and 1,520 hours of Communication Access Real-time Translation, or CART.
Daniel DeWitt, the interim assistant director for the DRC, says the center relies on self-reports from students, which are backed by reports from doctors or health care providers.
“We don’t work in a vacuum,” DeWitt says. “[There is] lots of gray area.”
According to DeWitt, this practice enables students to get the resources and help they need by looking at each individual case to see what that person might need, exactly. This allows for what DeWitt called “limitations based on individuality.”
One challenge, Edibiri says, “is that faculty, staff, and administrators are eager to implement accessible technology, but the rate at which it updates is hard to keep up with.”
Despite the task of keeping up with the rapidly changing technologies, Edibiri says, “the DRC works with Oregon Institute of Technology, e-Learning, faculty and others who provide training and hands-on experience to gain knowledge and skills.”
Students who wish to receive help from the DRC must first fill out the application form and speak to an advisor. Students must also obtain the proper documentation for their disability, which may include records from medical or educational professionals.