APSU’s Disability Resource Center works to make campus more accessible – Clarksville Online

Clarksville, TN – Last month, the Disabled Student Resource Center (SDRC) at Austin Peay State University (APSU) hosted a silent dinner to celebrate differences and bring awareness to the Deaf community and disabilities in general.

Various modes of non-verbal communication were encouraged during the evening, including American Sign Language, general hand gestures, writing on notepads, and facial expressions.

“The takeaway from the event is to advocate for and better understand the deaf community,” said Dustie Lynn Boxx, SDRC at Austin Peay State University.

SDRC Director Jamie McCrary recently sat down with APSU Communications Intern Aalyah Martinez to talk about accessibility at APSU.

Here’s what he had to say.

What is the APSU doing to be more accessible?

The SDRC is committed to promoting accessibility throughout its university campus. I am the chair of the accessibility committee, as well as a student representative who reports to our office as a service recipient. The committee is a standing committee that deals with accessibility across the University both physically and with respect to accessible learning materials.

Our office provides digital textbooks to our students, various software such as note-taking apps, software for our visually impaired students, and provides sign language interpreting and captioning services to our deaf and hard of hearing students. We have an in-house braille printer, as well as access to a 3D printer for students who may need to access the material in a different way.

SDRC offers students a place to take their exams in a quieter, less distracting space, which is one of our best used accommodations. In short, SDRC assesses the student’s needs and provides the reasonable accommodation that will help them achieve their academic goals.

What other services does APSU provide?

APSU has a program specifically designed for autistic students called Full Spectrum Learning (FSL) which is housed at Eriksson College of Education. Our office and theirs work together to collectively serve students with autism. It should be noted that there are only three other programs in the Southeast such as FSL in university settings.

Our university is committed to ensuring that content via the web meets ADA standards. Not only publicly viewable content, but also materials used for student engagement in learning. Additionally, our faculty has made great strides in using and promoting online textbooks that contribute to accessibility as a universal design.

How, if at all, can the APSU be more accessible?

I would say that letting people know that having a disability doesn’t define who you are as an individual is a way for professional staff and students to get involved in helping with accessibility. Currently, we serve over 1,100 students with accommodations, however statistics show that nearly one in four students (25%) have an identifiable disability.

Make students aware that a disability is not only physical, but a mental health disorder can also impact a student’s ability to learn. Non-visible disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, and dyslexia can be a diagnosis where accommodations can help the student succeed in college.

Our office is committed to sharing the fact that any disability, both visible and invisible, will not define you and that you can be successful in your college experiences.

What other events does this office organize?

The SDRC hosts several events throughout the academic year, such as this silent dinner, an open house with free food – i.e. grilled cheese sandwiches, popcorn, tacos itinerant. In the spring, we promote a t-shirt design contest where a student can submit a design for the upcoming academic year that will be the office logo.

At the beginning of the semester, we provided extensive training to our faculty and staff regarding serving students with disabilities, as well as training our Learning Resource Center staff on how best to serve our population.

We help recruit K-12 students who plan to come to our university for the upcoming academic year by providing resource tables at university resource fairs in different counties across the state.

The SDRC is currently seeking students interested in leading a student-run organization for this office.

For more information, go to: https://www.apsu.edu/disability/.

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