Founded in 1842, the University of Notre Dame is a private Catholic institution located just outside of South Bend, Indiana. With more than 8,800 undergraduates, and 3,900 graduate students, roughly 11% of those students have a registered disability with the Center for Student Support and Care. To support its students with disabilities, Notre Dame turned to Symplicity Accommodate to help provide wraparound support for its student population.
Easy Access and Streamlined Operations
“Our numbers were growing and we were using a paper filing system with complex Google Sheets with lookups and more to keep track of student’s exams, sending emails, and more,” said Amy Jobst, Assistant Director of the Testing Center and Student Access at Notre Dame. “That worked when we had a small number of students and professors, but we started to see some pain points in organizing and student management… Not being able to provide information to various stakeholders was becoming a sticking point.”
To remedy this, Notre Dame in summer 2020 decided to partner with Symplicity and implement Accommodate across its campus to support students with a disability. Since its adoption by the accessibility services team, Notre Dame has been able to easily share notes on students interdepartmentally, organize test room booking requests, properly respond to accommodation requests, connect with professors for accommodation requests, and easily see which students are getting support or need support.
"It just streamlines everything and allows us to easily notify the appropriate people who need to know about an accommodation. It also makes the student responsible to empower them to advocate for themselves to request the accommodation and how they want that accommodation."
Assistant Director of the Testing Center and Student Access, University of Notre Dame
Students can easily register with the Accessibility Services Office, customized as “Access ND”, to get their accommodation needs met. Notre Dame worked with their Symplicity client manager to create accessible forms for students. Prior to Accommodate, Notre Dame would get referrals from counselors and get form submissions without steps to follow through. Now, with Accommodate, Notre Dame can have access to all the information they need 24/7. “It just streamlines everything and allows us to easily notify the appropriate people who need to know about an accommodation,” said Jobst. “It also makes the student responsible to empower them to advocate for themselves to request the accommodation and how they want that accommodation.”
Tools and Data
Not only has Accommodate enabled Notre Dame to streamline their processes more effectively, but the tools within Accommodate ensure that students get the support they need. “Ultimately the speed we can do things in Accommodate allows us to kind of step back on rubber stamping everything, but instead we can much better meet with students and meet with them holistically and be less transactional,” said Brent Fragnoli, Assistant Director of Accessibility Education and Outreach.
“Every single time we are able to figure something out about how to make Accommodate work more efficiently,” said Jobst. “Accommodate has a lot of features, and even if something wasn’t designed that way, we are able to figure it out.”
With Accommodate’s testing module, Notre Dame has streamlined testing accommodation requests, and they can easily track and understand student trends. Thanks to the data provided by Accommodate, Notre Dame’s Center for Student Support and Care Office hired a new part-time testing coordinator since they saw a 45% increase in student requests from 2021 to 2022.
Previously, Jobst would rely on a Google Drive form to connect with professors about student accommodation requests, but it was not error proof and led to a lot of time wasted. Additionally, Notre Dame now uses Accommodate’s Service Provider module to manage note-taking which was “the ultimate suck of my time prior to having Accommodate,” Jobst told Symplicity. “I’d have to go and look up class lists and email students and then offer them a notetaker based on their major and make sure the notetaker was qualified… Now I can just send one email to sort by GPA with class rosters already imported and it has saved me a ton of time!”
With the data and tools available in Accommodate, Jobst and Fragnoli can share relevant information to their campus advisory board made up of faculty, students, and staff. “Having Accommodate makes those advisory board meetings much more fruitful,” said Jobst. “It’s been really helpful at communicating to those stakeholders who we are helping and how they can help us to be better advocates for students on campus.” This enables Notre Dame to make data-driven decisions to support all of its students.
Since implementing the system, Notre Dame has made some specific changes to their system: incorporating better data analysis. “The way we report our master number now is entirely set up now,” said Fragnoli. “The ability to work with our client manager and reach out whenever we have questions and need something, along with the other things Symplicity does, means it is a real relationship. The relationship we have with our client manager and seeing Symplicity at conferences, accessing the helpline, and more make it much more than just a transactional relationship with Symplicity.”
Through this collaborative relationship, Notre Dame’s Center for Student Support and Care Office has successfully gained valuable time through a streamlined system that enables them to better advocate for their team, support more students effectively, create better cross-campus collaboration to support students holistically, and ensure their office works more efficiently.
"The ability to work with our client manager and reach out whenever we have questions and need something, along with the other things Symplicity does, means it’s a real relationship. The relationship we have with our client manager and seeing Symplicity at conferences, accessing the helpline, and more make it much more than just a transactional relationship with Symplicity."
Assistant Director of Accessibility Education and Outreach, University of Notre Dame