New Director to Join Disabilities Services

To help meet the growing demands of Seattle University’s Disabilities Services, Provost Isiaah Crawford and the University Cabinet have approved the expansion of Disabilities Services’ staff by hiring a new assistant director. The new position is expected to be filled some time between next quarter and next year, and will help support the growing student population as well as offer more comprehensive services for staff and faculty. As student advocacy and support has grown, so has the program. What once provided services for 250 students has expanded to more than 779 in just four years. A national search party will be convened for the position, and other full-time and part-time positions within the program will be re-evaluated to ensure that the program operates at full capacity.

Cam Peters, the Spectator
Cam Peters, the Spectator

Kiana Parker, the alternative media coordinator at Disabilities Services.

This change has been a long time coming, according to Braden Wild, Student Government of Seattle University’s (SGSU)
Disabilities Representative.

“There has been a 200 percent increase without corresponding staff,” Wild said. “It’s been a long
standing need.”

With this new seat filled, Wild says he hopes to see Disabilities Services continue to support disabled students and continue to “bridge the gap between student needs and student success.”

The new Assistant Director will work with current Director of Disabilities, Richard Okamoto, to help manage accommodation requests as well as evaluation interviews. Wild also mentioned that with these changes, the program can hopefully begin offering staff training to help better support students within their curriculum.

This staffing addition, as well as a budget increase for the 2016-2017 school year, is a major step in ensuring that the program can continue their support of all disabled students. Built to accommodate the complex web of issues that can arise for students with disabilities, these services work to ensure the safety and comfort for students in both the classroom and at home.

Alternative Media Coordinator Kiana Parker said that she hopes to see more time become available for Okamoto to engage in a campus-wide discussions about disabilities, and also begin to work with the student development division. The arrival of this new directorial position will help to better allocate efforts to improve the service, and according to Parker, will overall “contribute to a more positive campus climate and student development.”

The budget will be has been reported to be used to pay for paying full-time and part-time Disabilities Services employees, as well as fund the office operations overall. As for the coming years, students can anticipate to have their voices be recognized along with a push for comprehensive training for teachers, and more alternative testing spaces for disabled students.

The importance of providing support for students with disabilities has been reinforced over the past few years with the revival and growth of Seattle U’s Coalition for Students with Disabilities.

“We strive to create a unified community of students with disabilities and their allies through different events, bi-weekly meetings and campaigns, such as the Disabled and Proud campaign we are currently working on,” Coalition President Anna Pickett said.

Pickett also said that she wants to see the club actively work with other clubs and organizations on and off campus. With their newest campaign, Disabled and Proud, the coalition works to empower all students of disability as well as highlight and advocate for ally support.

“Like any marginalized identity group, we need to have a space to talk about our experiences and come together,” Pickett said. “The body I have works perfectly for me. I love my disabled body and in my time at SU, I have grown into somebody who can say that with pride.”

These budgetary changes will allow the community and network of disabled students, allies, and their faculty to grow into a more seamless and efficient program.

“[The changes are] a collaborative process,” Wild said, in which, “the community was able to come together in such a practical and noticeable way.”


Cam Peters, the Spectator
Cam Peters, the Spectator

The Disabilities Services office resides in Loyola Hall, on the upper mall near the quad.


The editor may be reached at
news@su-spectator.com

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