New office to handle services for students with disabilities

LEC tutoring sessionSMU seeks to provide better support for students with disabilities by establishing a new office that consolidates all disability support services in one location.

Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) opens in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (LEC) July 1. The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, directed by Rebecca Marin, has joined forces with LEC staff members in Learning and Attention Disorders (LeAD), who specialize in academic counseling for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

The previously separate offices now provide comprehensive support to all students with disabilities, including classroom accommodations and accessibility issues, academic coaching for students with learning and attention disorders, and test proctoring when needed.

DASS is in the process of updating forms, web content and physical offices to reflect the new structure, Marin says. The office will also revise some policies and procedures as the teams integrate.

Students with accommodation needs are encouraged to arrange classroom test proctoring with their instructors, but tests can be proctored by DASS when necessary. Beginning June 1, test proctoring moved from the Memorial Health Center to the LEC.

Merging the offices not only makes the support system easier to navigate, but will encourage students with disabilities and learning differences to take advantage of more services, says Alexa Taylor, LEC associate director and DASS team lead. “Students who come for accommodation letters may meet a staff member who can help with study skills and time management or sign up for an appointment with the writing center,” she says. “This environment will increase their comfort level with using these services.”

In addition, DASS will offer an information session for students and parents on the first day of every AARO session this summer, Taylor adds.

> Learn more at SMU’s Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies page

For the Record: Nov. 7, 2008

Alexa Taylor, Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, and four current and former SMU students presented a session at the International Dyslexia Association conference in Seattle Nov. 1, 2008. Estee Simpkins, Rachael Russell, Callan Harrison and Matt Tunnell (’07) shared their experiences in being college students with learning disabilities.

Four professors and administrators represented SMU at the 2008 Educause Conference in Orlando, Florida: Anthony Cortese and Dalia Abdel-Hady, Sociology; Paul Toprac, The Guildhall at SMU; and Brad Boeke, Information Technology Services. Educause is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.

Instructors, staff members recognized for going the Extra Mile

Extra Mile Awards lecturersThree SMU faculty members were honored April 10 for their graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences.

Judy Newell, lecturer in mathematical sciences; Pauline Newton, lecturer in English; and Stuart Robinson, lecturer in psychology, received the first Extra Mile Awards from members of Students for New Learning, a student organization that promotes awareness of learning differences and provides tips and strategies to fellow students.

“These faculty members are advocates for all learning styles,” says Jayme Clemente, junior art history major and Students for New Learning president. “They are available for support and to help students succeed.”

Students also honored Becca Marin, students with disabilities coordinator, and Alexa Taylor, learning disabilities specialist, at the awards presentation and reception. (Right, Newell, Robinson and Newton with Clemente.)

For the Record: Dec. 13, 2007

Nathan Cortez, Law, discussed the growth and risks of “medical tourism” – traveling overseas for needed health care – with National Public Radio Nov. 14, 2007.

Alexa Taylor, Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, offered exam-time study tips for students with learning differences in The Dallas Morning News Dec. 10, 2007.

Daniel Howard, Marketing, discussed the holiday bargains late shoppers can expect in the final weeks of the shopping season with The Hartford Courant Dec. 11, 2007.