Overcoming COVID-19 Challenges: Q&A with Marymount Manhattan College
Symplicity asked Lindsay Green, Assistant Director of Disability Services and Academic Access at Marymount Manhattan College, about the impact of COVID-19 on disability services and their use of Symplicity Accommodate during this time. Marymount Manhattan first implemented Accommodate in 2018 and said it was a “game changer.” Ever since COVID-19 closed their campus in March, Marymount Manhattan continued delivering accessibility to students with Accommodate being “the foundation of everything we do.” Green shared her thoughts on how Accommodate has helped Marymount Manhattan overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Has COVID-19 changed the way you communicate with students that need accommodations?
We definitely had to change how we were communicating with students once our campus closed back in March. My communication methods, prior to COVID-19, was a hybrid between using Accommodate and using Excel/Outlook. When we started working from home, I shifted everything over to Accommodate so that I could do everything I needed on one platform. It was great because I could tailor and manipulate the system to suit my exact needs. This was also great because I could customize Accommodate to match the processes that we have to follow as an institution which helped us make sure we were being compliant while helping students at the same time.
Have you seen an increase in student engagement within the system since your campus closed?
Yes, the increase in student engagement was something I noticed early on after we started working remotely. Since our campus closed, our students have become three times more engaged and we were able to track that engagement through the Accommodate system. What we noticed was that there was a huge influx of people signing on once we became remote. Our students didn’t have the ability to stop by our offices to make appointments with us, but their needs were still being met because of the system. Accommodate really is a one-stop shop; it streamlines how we allocate accommodations, how we communicate with students, and how we view student information and that makes the system ideal for remotely serving students.
How has using Accommodate been beneficial to your transition from in-person to virtual services?
Accommodate has been the foundation for everything we do when it comes to managing disability services. We never had to ask ourselves how we were going to deliver accommodations when our campus closed—we already knew the answer was Accommodate. The only difference was altering some of our processes to match the new needs that came up with COVID-19 but that was it. Accommodate does everything for us; we use it to send mass emails to our students and schedule meetings. Our learning specialists use it for taking notes to send to the director and I use it to communicate with the notetakers. It is the only platform we need to ensure we can do our jobs, whether we’re in the office or not.
Which Accommodate module has your institution been utilizing the most while you’ve been working remotely?
I really think we’re using the appointment module a lot more now that we’re working remotely. The fact that we have the ability to see someone’s schedule or a student’s case has been a game changer. Most of our staff doesn’t have access to the server therefore they can’t log onto our database to see what students are ready to start in, but with the use of Accommodate, they have full visibility into that information. My staff doesn’t have to waste time asking their colleagues who has access to the database because they can see everything within the system. Even if we return to campus, we’re considering making the use of the appointment module mandatory because it’s made our processes way more efficient.
Do you think Accommodate has helped you provide more timely support to your students?
Absolutely. When we got Accommodate, it was a game changer. Previously we were using excel spreadsheets and dropping off folder/files. Now that everything is digital, students can request everything they need online, and we no longer have to do a back and forth with the student to make sure their needs are met. Everything is in one organized place and it’s so easy for students to be able to submit a request and for us to receive and process that request in a timely manner. The amount of time we have saved with Accommodate has been a lifesaver.
How would you rate Symplicity support?
The Symplicity support team is wonderful! Whenever I call, there’s never a wait time. I’m able to speak to someone immediately, no matter what time of day it is which is remarkable. And they always have an answer for me within a few minutes and if they don’t, they let me know they’re working on it and I get my answer within a couple hours. Symplicity provides great customer service to us and I know that, when I call them, I never feel like I’m talking to a random person who doesn’t understand the system. Everyone on the support team is very knowledgeable, many of which have a background in higher education disability services, so they understand my needs even better.