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Colleges offer services to disabled students

April 26, 2009 7:26:34 AM PDT
Transitioning to college life and academics can be challenging for many students with disabilities.However, with support from the disability services centers at many colleges, these individuals can succeed.

Federal law requires colleges to provide accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. Every school has different ways of implementing their services.

"One is a tutoring center, which is free and open to all students. The second one is disability services where we provide accommodations for students with disabilities, consult with faculty, help students navigate the university, and our learning and support services program for regularly admitted students with learning disabilities," said Nancy Litke, director of Roosevelt University's Academic Success Center.

Currently, 200 students with disabilities receive services from Litke's office, ranging from extended test time to adaptive equipment.

It is the student's responsibility to request services.

"Which is a really difficult thing for our freshman to understand because they've been coming from a high school situation where parents, counselors, teachers, have all managed this for them, and the transition isn't always very smooth. So, they come in here, and they just think automatically that we know what they need," the director said.

Morgan Amos is a student with physical disabilities majoring in journalism.

"If the room is too small for me to roll my chair in, then they're able to move the room to a different place," Amos said.

"They help me with organization tools, and provide a quiet study area when I need it and accommodations for test taking," said student Jordan Burston who has learning disabilities.

Student James Harris is graduating in May.

"I have ADHD, and I'm also bipolar. So, I have extreme racing thoughts; it makes it difficult to concentrate," Harris said. "They really help me get organized, and they have a really great tutoring center."

At Columbia College, Director Sandra Saunders has between 400 and 500 students with disabilities in her program.

" We provide in-class accommodations and out-of-class accommodations," she said. "We provide note takers in class, extended time for tests and quizzes, large-print handouts. We do Braille hand-outs and readers for our students."

Similar to the situation at Roosevelt, it is the Columbia student's responsibility to ask for services.

" Often times, a student will go to class and a professor will notice that a student is having some difficulties, and what we ask the professor to do is say to student, 'Are you aware of the on campus resources?'" Saunders said.

Next to the disabled office is a work room with various of adaptive technology. Students like Meg Ryan have a lot of reading requirements.

" I get the book on tape, digital formats of my books that a machine or a program will read to me. I also get extended testing for time in a distraction free environment, and I am allowed to record my lectures," Ryan said.

Brittany Massy, 21, is legally blind and is pursuing a degree in video game animation.

"I use the computer, which has an enlarging program called Zoom Text. So, it magnifies the whole screen for me so I can see better," Massy said.

With the right program and accommodations, students with any disability can succeed in colleges.

As political science major at Roosevelt, Educardo Martinez has big plans for his future.

" I want to go to law school," Martinez told ABC7 Chicago.

Before selecting a college, students are advised check out the school's students with disabilities services to make sure it meets their needs.

For more information, go to


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