Advocating and providing for students, on and off campus

The Student Access Center continues to serve students amid coronavirus.

While the coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of life at Kansas State University, many students are still, if not more, in need of assistance to learn successfully.   

To help minimize the difficulties students with disabilities can face, the K-State Student Access Center is still operating, with some limitations, amid the virus.

“We know many students with disabilities may be affected by additional concerns about COVID-19,” said Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson, director of the Student Access Center “We are advocating for their concerns to be taken into account as we consider how to move back to campus, and we will continue to find ways to make sure that appropriate and reasonable accommodations are met.”

Created in 1974, the Student Access Center focuses on providing equal access and opportunity to all campus programs and services for students with disabilities. The services offered are primarily for enrolled students and revolve around academics and on-campus housing.

“The SAC works with students and stakeholders to support the university’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act,” Tomlinson said.

In addition to providing testing and housing accommodations, the Student Access Center awards scholarships to students with disabilities and hosts the “Extraordinary Student Award” banquet in partnership with the Division of Student Life to recognize students who have faced and persevered through extraordinary challenges.

Though in-person services such as the Student Access Center Testing Center, where students who need accommodations can have their tests proctored, are currently closed, the Student Access Center is still offering all other services remotely.

“We continue to work remotely with our staff focusing on email and Zoom for communication with students, both current and future. We have been working with many faculty who are adapting their courses to remote learning so  they are aware of how to make their new online resources accessible,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson said the Student Access Center has noticed an area that may impact students in the future. To qualify for the services the Student Access Center offers, students with disabilities must provide documentation. For students with learning disabilities coming from high school, that documentation is often in the form of a psychoeducational assessment. Many times, these are provided by public schools. This helps families considerably, as assessments cost around $1,200 and are not often covered by insurance, according to Tomlinson.

Due to the coronavirus and the subsequential move to remote learning, however, Tomlinson said school psychologists and special education staff have been contacting the Student Access Center with concerns that some students with recent diagnoses will not be able to be assessed by their high school, and therefore not have the necessary documentation they need for college. In addition to this challenge, many students with disabilities cannot afford to get the testing and treatments needed to support their success in college.

“We are looking for ways to support these students and find resources for assessment, such as grants, knowing that accommodations such as audiobooks, testing accommodations, or text-to-speech software can be the difference between dropping out of college and graduation, and that documentation can help us better serve students,” Tomlinson said. 

Though it is unclear as to when the Student Access Center will be open on campus, Tomlinson said they will continue to do everything they can to support their students remotely, with hopes of getting back to the office in Holton Hall as soon as it is possible.

Learn more about how you can support the K-State Student Access Center here.

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