Tackling the Issues with Disability Services in Higher Education
Providing the best experience and tools for success for disabled individuals is no longer optional for all higher education institutions. This is due to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) which “enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities” that include “discrimination on the basis of disability as prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.” Tackling the issues with disability services has especially come into focus due to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The report stated that “nineteen percent of undergraduates in 2015-16 reported having a disability.” The same report also provided specific percentages of students with disabilities categorized by factors such as “veteran status, age, dependency status, and race/ethnicity.” Since this report was released in 2016, this number of disabled individuals in postsecondary education has most certainly risen.
Higher education institutions need to update their processes in order to keep up with the growing number of disabled individuals attending their institutions. AHEAD, otherwise known as the Association on Higher Education and Disability, provides the opportunity for individuals working within disability services to come together and discuss different methods for providing better services for students. AHEAD’s annual, international conference, Equity & Excellence: Access in Higher Education, recently took place July 9th – July 13th, 2019 in Boston, MA. This year’s conference brought around 1,500 attendees from all over the world!
Symplicity was a proud exhibitor at this year’s conference showcasing our most advanced system for disability services management, Accommodate. Symplicity Accommodate is an end-to-end user software that helps institutions manage accommodations and resources for students with disabilities to ensure student success and compliance with university policies and governmental regulations. Our solution encourages students to build independence and self-advocate through learning access plans, online requests, and access to resources.
Unlike other vendors, Accommodate is the most intuitive, reportable and supported product in the market. Accommodate’s new student and staff interface has a modern look and is mobile responsive so students can submit accommodations and access their profile from any device. Similarly, staff in disability services offices now have a better system for processing cases, ensuring compliance and addressing students’ needs in a timely manner, and helping students be successful in an academic setting.
Currently, there are over 200 higher education institutions that use Accommodate, including Ohio University, Pepperdine University, Gateway Community College, and the entire Connecticut university school system. Accommodate allows for students to submit accommodations requests, an entire note-taker network for students, and one automated and consolidated cloud-based resource. Additionally, staff and students will share one core database that integrates with existing student information systems and calendar programs as well as allows staff an incredible level of control over tracking and reporting. Administrators can track device inventory and condition, view test room availability in real-time and create ad hoc reports using data from the system to better predict students’ future needs.