Roughly 20 percent of students enrolled in higher education have reported having a disability, according to the most recent federal data. This means there is a significant portion of college students that have a form of disability whether visible or otherwise. While the U.S. Department of Education does not require students to disclose their specific disability, but in order for a student to receive academic accommodations they must disclose in an accommodation request. This process can begin before a student even enters a classroom (whether virtual or in-person) which can make or break a student’s academic and wellbeing success. In fact, in a 2016 study by the Institute of Education Sciences, only 13 percent of students with a disability disclosed.
Ensuring that students with a disability, whether they choose to disclose it or not, experience a sense of belonging is critical to the longevity of an institution. Research finds that if a student does not feel a sense of belonging within the first eight weeks of campus, they are at a high risk of dropping out. With this concern, as Higher Education Today wrote in 2020 means that “shaping the culture of higher education institutions is one of the most important steps to achieving the goal of disability-diversity and inclusion.”
In the wake of COVID-19, and the number of individuals experiencing long COVID, the number of individuals seeking accommodations is increasingly rising. To ensure the success of all students, it is becoming increasingly more and more important for institutions to have robust measures in place to process accommodation requests while nurturing a growing student body. Although not all accommodations can be met, due to staff and time restraints that are experienced at all levels in higher education, there are still things that can be done.
One way is to eliminate student experience fatigue, the phrase describing the exhaustion faced by people with disabilities in having to continuously explain their situation and ask for help. So, what can a university do with technology to support?
- With technology, students who self-disclose through a private form to their accessibility or disability services offices, do not have to continuously share what accommodations they need. Instead, an instructor or campus official can go into a students’ file and see that they are working with the disability services office and easily provide them with the necessary accommodations they might need such as flexible deadlines, extended times on tests, etc.
- Technology ensures students are readily supported by easily assigning notetakers for students or assigning them with someone to help guide them on campus.
- Ensure technology is accessible by making captioning a standard element for all videos and lectures, to ensure content posted online is accessible, and ensuring that there are easy mechanisms for students to file for an accommodation request.
- Institutions can utilize technology to ensure students are adequately supported across campus, semester after semester, and supporting them in continued success post college.
With Symplicity Accommodate, institutions can ensure that their campuses, whether in person or online, have equal access. Accommodate allows for disability services to communicate, in one system, across campus to help students with all aspects of a student’s success by identifying campus resources for students.
By modernizing the accommodation request process with a fully ADA-compliant interface, Accommodate allows students to seamlessly submit requests, submit notes to disability offices for questions, connect with note-takers, have assistive devices checked out and tracked, build workflows to ensure that all campus offices are staying connected, and more. It is up to universities to make sure that they build a culture of accessibility by providing students with the confidence that their campus ensures along with cohesive communication between colleagues to easily track accessibility resources like study room availability, software and device inventory, and more.
Utilizing Symplicity Accommodate’s reporting tool can empower disability services offices to proactively engage and train faculty, staff, and campus leaders on the needs for the campus' disabled student population and build pride and confidence within their disabled student population and helping them have confidence to succeed.
For those interested in learning more about Accommodate and how your institution can utilize technology to support all students, schedule a conversation with us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.