Feb. 18, 2013
Since the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled students do not have to struggle in silence while trying to complete assignments or exams. Legislation has guaranteed equal opportunity.
UCCS Disability Services works to help level the playing field so students with disabilities can meet their potential.
“I started in the office as a work study student a long time ago and just to see students come in and just need a little assistance getting around campus – it’s exciting when you get to see them at graduation and know that they worked really, really hard to get where they are,” said Ida Dilwood, director of Disability Services and the University Testing Center.
Dilwood said some of those accommodations might include software, technology to finish a paper or a quiet testing environment.
There were 380 students in the program last semester. This semester, there are between 400 and 500 students.
Around 75 percent of students that Disability Services accommodates have hidden disabilities, such as learning disabilities, psychological disabilities, traumatic brain injuries or ADHD, Dilwood said. She added there are fewer students with noticeable disabilities.
Dilwood emphasized student information is kept confidential.
“Some students are worried that if they speak up about a disability that they have, their professors will know about it or somehow it will be carried on into the workplace or listed somewhere, or they might not want other people to know, so the confidentiality thing is big,” she said.
Disability Services has an Assistive Technology Lab in El Pomar Center Room 215 for students. Dilwood said that the office proctored more than 3,500 exams last year – not only for students with disabilities but also students who paid to take make-up exams.
The program also offers disability etiquette tips to offices that request them. Once a semester, Disability Services speaks at PARTNERS, a training program for new student employees, and teaches them how to interact with students with disabilities.
“That’s another thing, to not assume someone has a disability,” said Dilwood. “Sometimes, unfortunately, it has to be said and students just need to be educated sometimes. That’s the job I like to do – educate the campus community about people with disabilities and kind of getting rid of some of the stereotypes that people have.”
She added, “For some students, when it takes them longer to do homework or read or write papers, that just puts other barriers in their way. It’s so exciting to see so many make it through the university and hope that we have a small part in helping them fulfill their goals of graduating.”
Dilwood said that if students have any questions or suspect they may have a disability, they can visit uccs.edu/dservice or email [email protected]. The Disability Services Office is in Main Hall, Room 105. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.