The Student Access Center is a program committed to providing equal access to all campus programs and services for students with disabilities, Andrea Blair, director of the center, said.
“We work hard as an office to engage the university community in a culture that sees disabilities as diversity, that it gives to the university rather than hindering it,” Blair said.
The center has changed its name over the past several years, Blair said. It has been known as the Service to Students with Physical Limitations, Disabled Student Services and Disability Support Services before being renamed to the Student Access Center. The name change is to help promote appropriate language regarding students with impairments, Blair said.
The center works to accommodate all different kinds of disabilities classified into physical and invisible disability, Blair said. In recent years, more awareness of invisible disabilities — such as attention deficit disorder, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder — have gained more recognition from colleges across the U.S.
“We are seeing more veterans return to college after their deployments,” Blair said. “We offer a testing center for those who have test anxiety as well as advisers who can help students connect with others to help take notes during lectures. Students can also find help online. We offer free software to help with reading and writing with online textbooks. Any student can use the online resources.”
Blair also said these tools are especially helpful for those who have trouble understanding the information from just reading the textbook by having an audio option available.
For those who are hard of hearing, the center provides all classroom videos with closed captioning, which not only helps those students, but others who are more visual learners than audio learners, Blair said.
The center’s main goal, especially this year, is integrating more into the community with disability awareness events, April Penick, assistant director of the center, said. For example, the center is working with many K-State departments and student organizations to organize an event for the fall called “Impressions of Oppressions” in hopes of increasing diversity awareness of oppressed groups on campus.
“It will give students an opportunity to get involved with and learn more about other clubs on campus,” Penick said.
Gabbi Armstrong, junior in political science and women’s studies, said she has used some of the accommodations offered by the center.
“I have used the testing center many a time, as well as the lecture recording,” Armstrong said. “I have a nerve disease that causes me chronic pain and memory loss, so the lecture recording is helpful to use in case I forgot something or didn’t catch it the first time.”
Armstrong said the testing center is also very helpful because it is quiet and she gets extra time on her tests.
“Sometimes it is very difficult to get up in the morning,” Armstrong said. “The center lets me email my professors if I am having a rough morning.”
The Student Access Center has students meet with a faculty member at the beginning of every semester and puts students in contact with their new professors to let them know of any accommodations that are needed.
“They make me feel more comfortable with talking to my professors about what I need,” Armstrong said. “They are always willing to work with me whenever I need it.”