Disability Resources works to increase awareness

During my first semester at Guilford College, I decided to become a notetaker for my First-Year Seminar. I did not realize what an important position this was until later, when I spoke with Disability Resources.

“There are different types of disabilities, and there are different learning styles,” said Disability Resources Assistant Coordinator Robert Young. “Notetakers are essential to (many students).”

In 2012, about 200 Guilford students reported having a disability.

“The language from the Americans with Disabilities Act, which regulates our provision of accommodations for disabilities, states that a disability is something something that severely limits one or more life functions,” said Director of the Counseling Center Gaither Terrell. “Learning is certainly one of those. If there’s a significant impairment in that, that would be a disability.”

Though Terrell works primarily in the counseling center, many students who seek counseling also work with Disability Resources for a variety of reasons, such as Major Depressive Disorder.

Terrell serves on the accessibility subcommittee, a branch of the diversity committee, which also includes Young, Disability Resources Coordinator Georgieann Bogdan and Facilities and Energy Manager Brett Hacker. The committee works on a lot that Disability Resources, consisting of only two staff members, cannot do alone.

“One of the things we’re doing right now is helping develop an electronic map that folks can go on and see exactly where accessible routes are and what buildings are more accessible to them,” said Bogdan.

Current student accommodations in the classroom setting include extra time on tests, permission to use a computer in class and the use of smart pen recording devices, which record lessons for students to listen to.

For now, Disability Resources is working on education for staff and faculty, allowing them to better serve the needs of their students.

“We have a lot of new faculty members (and) professors who have never had the opportunity to teach students with a disability,” said Young. “It is important that they understand what the rights of the students are, the process (and) what we provide the students.

“We are resources for the staff and the faculty. We do outreach for them. We give training.”

According to junior Kate Mitchell, Disability Resources has helped her Guilford experience immensely.

“I like to be a really independent person, and Guilford has been really great at allowing me to do that,” said Mitchell. “Even if the class is in too small of a room, I’ve had teachers change classrooms. Everyone’s very quick. If there’s a problem, there’s a very quick response.”

Mitchell currently lives in Mary Hobbs, something she sorted out with Coordinator of Housing Operations Maria Hayden ’06.

“(Hayden) spent all summer getting ready for (me to move) into Mary Hobbs and making sure every door that I would need to get through would have an opener,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell also works closely with Bogdan.

“We have been invited to meetings in facilities, public safety and housing,” said Bogdan. “Now, we are pretty much pervasive throughout the College.”

Still, there is a lot to learn for everyone, including the department.

“The disability community is a very, very diverse group of people, (and it is) so complex, it can be hard to wrap your head around sometimes,” said Young.

Since October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Bogdan is working on spreading awareness of the department.

“We are doing an access day, … and we are showing some films and doing things like that through the Learning Commons,” said Bogdan.

“We would like for everybody to know about our services and that we are here for everyone on campus, not just students. For them in particular, but we do like to help and accommodate and support our staff, faculty and administration.”

To find out more about Disability Resources, contact Bogdan at [email protected] or visit Disability Resources on the second floor of Hege Library.