February 18, 2020

The office helps students in four main areas: testing, technology, classrooms and housing. Approximately 6 percent of the student population, or 1,100 individuals, use disability services to enhance their campus experience.

Disability Services works to create an inclusive experience for students with disabilities by providing accommodations and spreading awareness. They also provide a wider range of services than students might realize.

The office helps students in four main areas: testing, technology, classrooms and housing. Approximately 6 percent of the student population, or 1,100 individuals, use disability services to enhance their campus experience. Of this number, 80 percent have hidden disabilities which are not physically apparent. Approximately 30 percent are also veterans, according to Rachel Gibson, assistant director for Disability Services and University Testing Center.

There are three categories of students that they work with. The main population is students with a diagnosed disability. There are also students who have temporary injuries or conditions, such as a broken arm or a concussion and can be provided recommendations on navigating campus during that time. The final group they serve is students who have pregnancy related conditions and are covered under Title IX.

OIS has six staff members who work individually with students to identify ways to make campus more accessible to them.

“K through 12 have a mission of directing students towards success, while in higher education, it’s that access,” said Gibson. “We’re not guaranteeing success, we’re just providing access to information so one has the same opportunity as their peers.”

Students with PTSD may need help with notetaking and arrangements can be made for them to access class notes. In terms of classroom accessibility, students with chronic pain may need a more comfortable chair to sit on during class.

Last year, the office received a grant to purchase chairs which follow a standard and are more comfortable to sit in. They have been labeled and placed in many of the classrooms on campus for students who may need this accommodation.

“In the past, we would place a chair in a classroom for a student that needed it, but they would get to class, and it would be gone,” Gibson said. The new chairs have helped solve this problem

When problems or discrimination complaints arise, students work together with their professor, disability services and the office of institutional equity to resolve these issues.

“We are in the business of problem solving,” Gibson said. “I encourage all of our students to, when they encounter a problem or reach a barrier, they come and talk to us.”

Disability Services also follows Council for the Advancement of Higher Education (CAS) Standards, which each office within higher education is set to follow. According to their website, CAS Standards respond to student needs, the requirements of sound pedagogy and the effective management of multiple functional areas. The UCCS office is set to be evaluated again in 2021.

A new technological system is being implemented this semester called Accommodate, which will unify engagement into one, all-encompassing program.

There is also interest sparked by tutoring centers at Denver University and Pikes Peak Community College that specifically cater to students with disabilities, but nothing is in the works.

“They definitely provide resources for students, so there is definitely interest in exploring a program like that at UCCS,” Gibson said.