Student Accessibility Services Expands its Resources for Students

By Benjamin Beggs ‘20 Communication Studies
Director of Student Accessibility Services guides a student
Student Accessibility Services Director Rebecca Ross guides senior business student Carly Smith.

The newly renamed Student Accessibility Services (SAS) features an extensive variety of new learning assistive technologies to support students.

With renovated facilities and a growing ensemble of assistive technologies, students can turn to the office to find helpful alternative methods for test taking, studying and completing other work.

“The ultimate goal of Student Accessibility Services is to take down barriers for people with disabilities so that we can fairly test students’ knowledge on their mastery of content,” said SAS Director Rebecca Ross.

The most commonly used assistive technology at SAS is a software called Kurzeweil, which scans and reads documents aloud for students who may have low vision, dyslexia, or reading processing disorders.

Other resources include C-Pens that read scanned text, video enlargers that help low-visibility students, and Livescribe pens that provide audio recordings to help in lecture note taking.

Many of the accommodations that students can utilize here are accessible beyond college. Things like screen readers and assistive technology devices are all commonplace in the working world now. — Rebecca Ross, director of Student Accessibility Services

Senior business student Carly Smith has been using SAS assistance for over three years. The services have helped her achieve academic success and provided her social support.

“I was given a note taker for comparing notes, and I was also introduced to the math and writing center as well as the tutoring services through SAS,” Smith said. “The personable staff there has both shared laughs with me and helped me in times of mental and emotional struggle.”

The SAS office is constantly seeking new assistive technologies for students by networking with other universities and through student feedback. It exemplifies the university’s commitment to giving students direct access to resources they need to obtain an outstanding education that leads to a successful and rewarding career. While the goal of the office is to help students succeed academically, Ross emphasizes its additional role of in spreading inclusivity and awareness around campus.

“Truthfully, I do not see my role as helping students in need, although I certainly hope that I do,” Ross said. “My job is about helping the school be accessible to all students, and sometimes to do that, I need students to tell me how to make it a more inclusive environment for their needs.”

Smith agrees that inclusivity – concentrated in the ‘We’re All Widener’ mentality – is what makes Widener special.

“I want every student, regardless of what grade they are in, to know that the staff at Student Accessibility Services is always there for them, and that success in college is challenging but achievable,” Smith said.


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