Help available for those with disabilities

January 30, 2015 Latest Print Print
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Students with disabilities of any kind may confidentially request adjustments or accommodations that can provide them equal access to course material through the Student Support Services office.

Todd Rudat is OCCC’s Disability Support Specialist. He said he helps determine the adjustments and accommodations necessary for each student. Then he helps to implement any changes however he can.

“My job is making course content accessible to students,” Rudat said, “Everybody benefits from accessibility.

“It’s right there in our mission statement. Empowering our students to achieve their educational goals; that’s us living up to who we are.”

Types of accommodations range through a wide spectrum, Rudat said.

Seating or lighting can be changed if necessary for a student, he said, or electronic devices could be employed where need be.

Rudat said some adjustments are made with the help of OCCC staff.

“We have an American Sign Language interpreter,” he said.

“We have another employee who does live captioning of classes … .

“We also have someone on staff whose responsibility is formatting of printed materials.”

Rudat said his hope is that he will someday be put out of a job.

He said through the practice of “universal design,” all course content, college amenities and materials will soon be made with considerations for equal access built in.

Learning software and computers are already being designed to function equally for those whose strengths are in visual learning, as well as for those whose strengths lie in learning audibly or through hands-on experimentation.

“Companies are thinking that way because schools are starting to demand accessibility built into all of their products,” Rudat said.

Curriculums, electronics and entire campuses are being engineered with this kind of equal access in mind, he said, and professors and school administrators are learning to practice universal design as well.

Rudat said he expects all things to be so universally designed in the future that the need for positions like his — that focus on making accommodations where access is not yet entirely equal — will be eliminated.

“That time is approaching,” he said.

For now though, he said he will work hard to meet the needs of OCCC’s students.

Rudat said the college will do everything possible to ensure all students can access education at OCCC on the same level.

Student Support Services will work with any students concerned about classroom disadvantages brought on by disabilities.

“Even if you’ve never been diagnosed,” Rudat said.

He said students who are concerned they may have disabilities that have gone undetected can go to Student Support Service to learn about ways to address whatever problems they’re having, he said.

“We can get testing done.”

Registrar Allen Stringfellow said students should not hesitate to address any issues they may have. He said the details remain confidential.

“[Student Support Services doesn’t] communicate to the faculty what the illness or the problem is,” he said.

“All they tell a professor is what accommodation to provide to the student.”

Rudat said accommodations at OCCC are not, however, designed to provide students with an advantage over others or assure they will pass the class.

“Not that we want this to happen,” he said, “but a student could technically get accommodations that give them full access to their class and still fail the class.

“We are not here to guarantee success or help with success although we want success for our students.”

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, OCCC will make reasonable accommodations to all disabled students, Rudat said.

“It’s going to be specific to what your disability is and how that impairs you in an educational setting and then what’s a reasonable accommodation for equal access,” he said.

Students with disabilities seeking academic adjustments or accommodations must request them through the Student Support Services office located on the first floor of the Main Building.

For more information or to make a request, visit Student Support Services on the first floor of the Main Building  or call 405 -682-7520.

To contanct Jorge Krzyzaniank, email seniorwriter@occc.edu

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