Pepperdine University Disability Services Uses Accommodate to Simplify Student Experience

 In Disability Services

Pepperdine University Disability Services (now known as Office of Student Accessibility) was seeking a way to effectively manage student accommodation requests. Their registration process required students to complete various paper forms, which were organized in file cabinets. This process was time-consuming and it delayed the ease with which students received accommodations. It also lacked efficiency, as staff had to review the paper files manually.

“Having the ease of information is the most valuable thing. It’s really easy to look at a student profile and see what their latest interactions were in a consolidated space.”

Sandra Harrison,
Director of Pepperdine University Disability Services

Situation

When Sandra Harrison became Director of Pepperdine University Disability Services, her first task was to find an online management system that would streamline the student accommodations process. The registration process in place required students to complete multiple paper forms, which staff would later consolidate in file cabinets. Information was hard to access, and the accommodation process took long to complete. It was time to move to more modern technology and upgrade the office workflow.

The staff also wanted to facilitate a better way for students to access and distribute class notes. Office staff invested considerable time forwarding class notes to DSO students, who would be dependent on office hours to receive these notes. Even prior to the note-forwarding system, students seeking class notes were required to come in during office hours to pick up physical copies. The process was inconvenient for both students and staff, as students had to retrieve their class notes from among a large stack of files covering the office’s walls.

Solution

Pepperdine University implemented Accommodate in 2016 to simplify the accommodation request process for students and staff members by eliminating manual workflows. Sandy and her staff worked closely with the Symplicity team to customize their database through integration with PeopleSoft and set up an online registration process for students. Staff members could access the student’s case file and record their latest interactions using the Notes feature. The staff also leveraged the Letters feature to send tailored messages to other campus departments regarding a student’s accommodation request specific to that office. These efficient new methods created a much faster and more secure way to store and communicate a student’s needs. Pepperdine is known for being student-centered; the implementation of Accommodate allowed the DSO team to be more time-sensitive and dynamic in responding to student needs.

Disability Services also used the Note-Taker system to streamline the previous workflow for students seeking note-taking service. DSO students would request notes online, rather than having to complete a paper form. Note-takers would upload the notes directly into the system, and these would become available to students as soon as uploaded. This new process decreased student traffic and eliminated the need for forwarding notes, thus allowing staff more time to expand on their exam-proctoring process.

Success

Since launching Accommodate, Pepperdine Office of Student Access greatly simplified how students interact with their office. Accommodate allows them to serve their student population better by giving students the flexibility to submit requests and access notes from anywhere. The staff also benefits from the ability to accommodate requests remotely by having all student information consolidated in one platform. The automated accommodation letters also facilitated interdepartmental communication and saved time and resources traditionally allocated to typing and sending letters. Accommodate has created a peaceful office environment for the staff and has allowed them to process student requests more quickly and efficiently.

“Our goal is for students who need accommodations to have the same experience as students who do not need accommodations. [Accommodate] has simplified the student experience.”

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