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Happy Birthday ADA!
This year, the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25! Students entering college this year have never lived in a world without it, but many older Americans can remember a time when curb cuts were optional, entrance ramps were few and far between, a building without an elevator was just plain inaccessible if you could not climb the stairs and blind and deaf people had to attend special schools. Students with good ideas who could not read print or spell or do math simply left school.
What a change that law--and others like it--have made!
The blog linked here below offers Testimony from ADA Beneficiaries and Supporters .
Most of us take for granted the physical accommodations now legally mandated--and we use them. Watch the delivery people use those ramps and the bicyclists and skateboarders rolling down the curb cuts. It turns out that what architects call "universal design" really is universal: Everybody benefits. And most important, because of the ADA, gone are the days when people in wheelchairs could not use public restrooms, go to restaurants or access workplaces.
In education that principle of equal access is called Universal Design for Learning (UDL) or Universal Instructional Design (UID). Moving toward making classes and curricula in general more universally accessible means trying to provide materials and information through a variety of modes (visual, auditory, hands-on, reading and writing) and media. And it turns out that often these steps--which help students with various cognitive challenges also help students who missed class--with good reason, students who are still mastering the subtleties of English speaking and listening, students who were distracted during important moments of a lecture and so forth. In other words, just as with architecture, considering diversity of strengths and ability in design benefits everyone.
These days, computers have revolutionized access to audible and magnified text, the process of print composition and even physical access to curricula (where appropriate)--through online classes. Students (and others) use smart pens and software that converts text to speech--and vice versa. Multiple apps--not to mention smart phones with cameras--can help students keep track of assignments and manage their time. Software can convert a textbook to MP3s for listening on iPod or smart phone. Grammar and spell checkers automate--to some extent--and simplify the proofreading process and so forth. Texting makes communication much easier for those with limited speech or hearing.
Of course, there are new challenges inherent in the digital revolution. Colleges like other institutions must develop means for ensuring that every student has full access to the education and activities intrinsic to experience and learning for students at their colleges.
Ringling College is committed to doing that and the Academic Resource Center will continue to work with students, instructors, staff and administrators to achieve that goal: full access to services for people with all kinds of disabilities.
Luckily, the ADA will be there to support the work of inclusion as this long-neglected, frequently discounted and highly diverse group of citizens seek their legitimate status, contributing to the good--and justice--of all.
New Students: Getting Accommodations at Ringling College
If you are a newcomer to Ringilng--either student or parent--and you have concerns about any aspect of the learning process at Ringling College, You can start making contacts now.
Your academic advisor can answer questions about the courses you'll take and transfer credit. The folks at the Health Center can help connect you to local physicians and explain how their services can help you get and stay healthy. And the ARC can tell your more about the services we offer to ALL Ringling College students. If you're here at the web site, you may already know about some of those.
And the ARC is the only place to register your disability and find out how the accommodations process works in college.If you have had accommodations for a disability in high school or before or if you have a newly diagnosed illness or condition that may require some adjustments, please contact Virginia DeMers now to inform her of your needs and find out what you need to do next.
ARC Director, Virginia DeMers, arranges accommodations. She will be on campus most of the summer to answer questions, receive documents and begin determining the right supports for every student who needs them.Students who contact Virginia will receive information by mail that explains the accommodations process.
Students and families should also consider attending the ARC's annual Transition Workshop for Students with Disabilities on Wednesday, 12 August from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Not only will you meet the ARC staff and learn more about disabilities in the college environment; you'll also get to meet academic advisors, members of the Peterson Counseling Center staff and others who can help you figure things out in this exciting new part of your life.
Watch this space for more information about the program and agenda for that afternoon's activities.
We can't wait to meet everyone! Until then, be safe, have fun and keep drawing, designing and dreaming!
Give us feedback: Potential New Technology for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and other Students
From time to time, ARC staff explores possible technologies to help Ringling students. UbiDuo is an interesting system for offices to use when communicating with people with speaking or hearing disabilities.
Such technology can never fully replace ASL interpreters--not in the classroom or in other situations where more people are involved or where typing would detract from discussion. But for one-on-one meetings, especially when there wasn't time to plan ahead, we think it could be a good addition to the mix of accessibility options.
Watch the video and send us your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evaluations of Services
If you received disabilities services from the ARC, please watch for an evaluation form in your email (sent the week of 4/17) or in your campus mailbox. Those receiving notes will also receive a separate evaluation for those services.
Your responses will help us know what's working--and what isn't.
We know some students are registered but do not request any accommodations. That's fine. We'd still like to hear from you.
Thanks in advance for taking the time. We know you're busy (helping with that is part of our job), but these few minutes could make a difference.
Virginia and Paula