7C Deans Working on Disability Accommodation Improvements

The 7C Student Deans Committee (SDC) is in the process of improving campus disability services, aided by the advice of the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD).    

Currently, the seven colleges operate separate programs for students with learning disabilities. Academic accommodations include longer time for tests, a separate testing location and technology that converts text to speech for students with reading disabilities, said Pomona College Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Learning Marcelle Holmes.    

“We had two consultants from AHEAD this past September,” said Scripps College Director of Academic Support Services and Student Development Programs Jill Hawthorne. “They had some forums with faculty, students and staff about what would be beneficial to students with disabilities.”    

One of AHEAD’s main recommendations and the centerpiece of the SDC proposal to the Council of Presidents is the development of a more centralized service that spans the seven campuses. Monsour Counseling learning specialist Elizabeth James already advises the colleges, but the SDC is looking for a full-time staff member.    

“The idea would be to hire a central expert and someone to assist that person,” Holmes said. “It would be nice to have a central person who would be able to see what’s happening.”    

A director for all seven campuses would be able to ensure that resources are appropriately consolidated, Holmes said. For example, under the current system, two notetakers might be hired for students from different colleges in the same class when only one is needed. A more centralized service would eliminate incidents like this and increase communication between the campuses, Holmes said.    

The individual campuses would continue to maintain their own services for disabled students, but a central director could provide extra services, Hawthorne said.    

“An expert central person could better assist us on becoming more aware of how to better assist students with disabilities. For example, they could facilitate workshops and provide information to faculty and students from all our campuses,” Hawthorne said.    

The SDC has requested funding from the Council of Presidents for the new staff position and for new technology.    

“The Council of Presidents responded to the request by identifying a number of areas where additional information was needed to finalize the funding. That said, the concerns were not in limiting the services but actually to encourage the SDC to further develop the plan and make it even more comprehensive,” Claremont University Consortium CEO Robert Walton wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “I anticipate that the revised plan will be submitted to the Council of Presidents before the end of the 2011-12 academic year and that it will be funded.”    

The Deans of Students at the colleges are in the process of drafting a job description for the new position.

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