Reports from Panel Discussions (Access to Computing in Higher Education 2009)

Working Together: Disabled Student Services, Computing Departments, Veterans Organizations, and Other Campus Services

Representatives from several institutions around the country shared their experiences and ideas for fostering collaborations between departments to create programs that support students. A summary of ideas and programs from each campus follows.

Photo of a Capcity-Building Institute panel discussion.

Rodney Pennamon and Carl Stucke, Georgia State University (GSU) reported:

  • GSU has 500 registered student veterans on campus and GSU officials suspect that there are many more unidentified student veterans--some with disabilities.
  • GSU addresses veterans issues through a veterans coordinating council that includes the disability services office, the student support services office, the Dean of Student Services, the career services office, the veterans services office, Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and Veterans Affairs (VA) coordinator.
  • GSU's disabilities services office implemented recommendations from a meeting with the veterans center to better serve student veterans with disabilities.
  • GSU's career services office created From Combat to Private Sector, a program to help veterans match the skills and knowledge they gained from their military assignments to civilian occupations.
  • GSU partnered with another university to host a webinar on veterans affairs.
  • The disability services office screened a film on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • GSU has developed a process for integrating veterans into existing internship programs.
  • A GSU master's program in computer science is establishing a relationship with a Major General at a local military base that will help student veterans bridge the gap to college studies and careers.
  • GSU increased the number of classes offered through online learning and is working to ensure that these classes are accessible to students with disabilities.
  • GSU is reaching out to returning veterans through local military installations and considering offering degree programs on-site at a local base.

Meryl Berstein and Donna LaPorte, Johnson and Wales University (JWU) reported:

  • JWU coordinates services for students on both of its campuses out of one central office.
  • Faculty and staff are trained on how to respond to accommodation requests.
  • Decisions about technology-related accommodations for students with disabilities are made by an assistive technology committee on campus.
  • JWU uses assistive technology as a tool to help all students transition and succeed in college studies. A community of practice for assistive technology helps staff work proactively with students and with facilities to accommodate requests in a timely manner.

Adele Darr and Feng Wang, Arizona State University (ASU) reported:

  • ASU has four campuses that collaborate to provide services to students with disabilities.
  • ASU is currently developing relationships between the disability services office and academic departments by helping faculty build confidence to respond to students with disabilities who need accommodations.
  • ASU hosts a community of practice that meets twice a semester; this community has developed strong relationships and works on making the campus more accessible.
  • ASU fosters a strong relationship between disability services personnel and the veterans coordinator; work continues to be done to identify and reach out to student veterans.
  • Disability services staff collaborate with faculty to respond effectively to student accommodation needs in the classroom.
  • ASU is currently developing a program that will integrate students with disabilities into group computing projects to increase their success and engagement. ASU offers an accessible computer lab with staff to help students with the equipment and software.

Judy Elimelechm and Lyle Mays, Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) reoported:

  • MSSU is currently organizing services for student veterans, including a website with a compilation of resources and services.
  • Regular meetings of veteran, financial aid, counseling service, and other departmental representatives address access issues.
  • MSSU collaborates with local veterans associations to build alliances.
  • MSSU hosted a webinar on serving veterans and conducted a veterans open house.
  • The MSSU disability services office works with campus computing organizations to offer assistive technology and to increase the accessibility of IT.