A different path to success

Photo from Flickr
Photo from Flickr

By Ogechukwu Adiele, Staff Writer

The end of the semester brings a number of tests and projects to the forefront. For some, taking exams in a normal classroom may not satisfy their individual needs. However, students who need additional resources can use The Disability Services Test Center, which opened in fall 2015.

Today, there is a total of seven testing rooms four desks each and assistive technology equipped computers. Cameras are installed in each test rooms, which allows a test proctor to continuously monitor all exams from a separate area. An instructor is also assigned to provide each student in the room with assistance.

Prior to this, exams with accommodations were given in Lavery Library.  

“This new system gives the students a little more privacy and isn’t quite as invasive,”  said Joy Breeden, Disabilities Services Coordinator. “It would be great if more students who are eligible use their services and accommodations.”

Breeden said they can give up to 22 exams at a time, and the number of students varies. Finals week tends to be the busiest time for the test center.

“The number of students per room varies widely each day,” Breeden said. “Some days students have rooms to themselves, other days we have to double or even triple up.”

The Disability Services Office is responsible for providing accommodations and services for students with documented disabilities in compliance with section 504 of the 1973 Federal Rehabilitation Act and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The purpose of such accommodations is to provide equal access to educational programs and services.

However, a diagnosis alone does not ensure a student can utilize these services. Breeden said that students must provide additional documentation that states their impairment has a direct affect on their learning ability.

Specific accommodations include extended time on exams, proctored testing in a separate area, the use of a word processor exam, reader/text-to-speech software and scribe/speech-to-text software. In addition, students can also access notes from class lectures and use alternative forms of textbooks/electronic texts. In class, individuals are allowed to audio record class lectures, sit in prefered areas and have access to sign language interpreters.

Additional resources are also provided to reduce any other noise related distractions. For example, a number of noise cancelling headphones, a stash of earplugs and white noise machines are available for students.

“I think it’s great that students get the accommodations that they need because we are all different learners in different ways to be successful and so it’s good we have a center that helps students to be successful as they can, no matter what path it takes for them to get there,” said Dr. Michelle Erklenz-Watts, Director of Academic Advising and Support Services.

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