New technology eases accommodation process at Student Access Center, director says

There are accessible parking spots outside of Holton Hall, which is home to the Student Access Center. Students with specific mobility and accessibility needs can be accommodated through the center more efficiently now thanks to new technology, the center director says. (File Photo by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

In August, the Student Access Center announced it would move to a new online system for managing accommodation requests from students with disabilities. The new system, Accessible Information Management, allows students to submit letters of accommodation, upload documentation and communicate their requests virtually.

So far, the system has been an improvement for the center, Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson, director of the center, said.

“It’s working really well for students,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said. “Our previous system was more manual, and now we’ve automated it and we’ve allowed students to make that request online, but also those letters to be sent to faculty to speed up the accommodation process for the student.”

While the online process has been streamlined by the new technology, Maseberg-Tomlinson said the effects of the pandemic on accessibility and the move to online learning will impact students differently across campus.

“When we talk about accessibility, we have to keep in mind that every student is unique, and it’s case-by-case,” he said. “I think for some students, they’re finding it a very comfortable fit with hybrid learning or online learning as compared to their traditional in-person classrooms. For some students, it’s more difficult. I think that online learning requires us to have a different style of organization.”

This semester especially, Maseberg-Tomlinson said the center is trying to keep in mind the health of students who are at a greater risk for getting a serious COVID-19 complications.

“We’re trying to keep in mind their needs, and look to how we can learn from this experience and help us in the future, help us grow our services, but also understand the complex and dynamic higher education environment as we utilize more technology,” he said.

Maseberg-Tomlinson said that the technological shift due to the pandemic is likely here to stay, for both the Student Access Center and the university as a whole.

“The technology is here, and we’re using it more and it’s not going away,” he said. “I think we’ll find a lot of faculty use more technology in the future after this experience, regardless of COVID-19 … and I think we’ll learn how to be more successful with technology as a campus, but then we’re also gonna learn as an office the accommodation needs of our students in using that technology.”

My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.