The Other Side of Disabilities
The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs
Volume VII, Issue 2 April 2006 Editor: James Walborn
OSD VOLUNTEER BANQUET
On April 27th the OSD held our Volunteer Banquet with a Chinese New Years theme to thank the 349 volunteers who assisted students with disabilities in the past academic year, and for those students who may consider volunteering in the future. Most of the volunteers are notetakers who have provided copies of their own class notes to students whose disabilities do not allow them to accurately take their own notes. Other volunteers provide numerous tasks for the office.
Speakers included Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Newsome, two thankful OSD students, and a volunteer who wished to share some thoughts. FAU Professor Yajiong Xue introduced the entertainment, Lee Koon Hung Choy Lay Fut Kung Fu Association who are a Chinese troupe of traditional dancers who demonstrated the Chinese New Years line dance. The dance symbolically encourages good fortune, friendship, and good will. Many giveaways and raffle items were provided and traditional Chinese fare was furnished by Chartwells. All of us give special thanks to the SGA for funding this event.
There has been some concern from individuals within the FAU community regarding the approval of certain classroom accommodations for students with disabilities. Often this involves the audio recording of classes. Some professors fear that this violates their copyright rights to their material which they may be preparing for publication, while others fear that what they say in class might turn up in a lawsuit against them. Professors with the first concern will be gratified to know that the student can sign a waiver declaring that they will only use the audio recordings for study purposes, which will be destroyed at the end of the semester. Those with the second concern who refuse the audio recording of their class are in violation of Federal law. They are far more likely to be sued for discrimination than what they discuss in the classroom. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 specifically cites the recording of classes as an example of an accommodation which cannot be refused.
The OSD Counselors at FAU have the expertise to determine what support services are required to ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided to allow this population an equal opportunity to learn in the classroom setting. Professors with concerns are encouraged to contact the OSD for advice and clarification.
DAVIE PREPARING STUDENTS
OSD Associate Director, Amy Schwartz Parker collaborated with the CDC on the Davie Campus for three workshops on March 22nd, March 27th, and April 4th for students with disabilities, as well as any other interested students. Topics were Resume Writing, Interviewing Techniques, and Job Search.
LEARNING THROUGH LISTENING
Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D), an agency whose volunteers record textbooks in an audio format for print-disabled students, has opened a new recording studio at FAU within the last year. The 40 to 60 volunteers at the new studio produce textbooks in a digital format, on CD’s. The disc may hold up to 45 hours of spoken text and, by using a specialized player, the student has almost instant access to any page, chapter, or paragraph on the disc.
Often RFB&D staff will hold a "Learning Through Listening Hour," in which new volunteers are able to meet each other, meet the staff, and meet guests who use RFB&D textbooks. At the March "Learning Through Listening Hour," the special guests who shared their stories were OSD staff members James Walborn and Jill Brondolo. They are both legally blind and required the use of RFB&D textbooks to assist them in earning their Master’s Degrees from FAU.
The OSD Counselors refer students who may benefit from acquiring study strategies to Learning Specialist, Jill Brondolo. Jill helps students learn time management, organizational skills, improve their reading comprehension or writing skills, or show them memory techniques. "I meet with the students and try to find out what works and what does not work for them. Some learn best by auditory processing (listening) while others may learn best by visual processing (reading)."
Occasionally she sees students to help them organize their writing projects, while she meets with others on a more regular basis. Jill notes, "Sometimes just knowing that they will be meeting with someone motivates them to be more organized, hence creating an accountability factor."
Jill also helps train students who require assistive technology or who utilize RFB&D audio textbooks. "I really enjoy working with students," Jill confides. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education from FAU in 1995 and has been an OSD employee for 2 ½ years.
The OSD would like to congratulate all students graduating this May including those who have disabilities. We thought that you might be interested in some of their stories.
Ashley Skellenger, who has been blind from birth, will earn her BS in Social Work. Graduating FAU brings her full circle as President Brogan was also her elementary school principal. She hopes to earn her MSW degree from FSU and work with children. "I don’t consider my blindness as a disability. I’ve learned alternative techniques like traveling with a cane, reading braille, and using screen reading software." When not pursuing her hobbies of pottery and the violin, Ashley volunteers for many causes including raising money for hurricane relief and educating others about disability by assisting with OSD presentations.
Joshua Bratt will receive his BS Degree in Biological Science. Despite having problems with short-term memory functions, memorization, severe headaches, and other complications caused by Lyme Disease, he was the Speaker of the SGA Senate on the Boca Raton Campus. "I have learned so much from being here and I know for a fact that all of these lessons will help me in the "real world" to come after graduation." He is applying to dental schools around the country.
Ivy Berry, who is profoundly deaf, will earn her BA in Anthropology. "I like to educate ‘hearing people’ about deafness," Ivy explains. She currently teaches American Sign Language at Jupiter High School. "Teaching is my passion." Her husband, an architect, and their son are also deaf. "We want to show that we are capable of everything like everyone else."
Patty Singer is the new FAU Ombudsman. She has worked for FAU for 20 years in a wide variety of positions. "Being an Ombudsman is to be someone who is totally objective that can make sure that there’s fair practices going on," Patty states, thoughtfully. "You always have to have an open mind because there may be some stone that was left unturned that you can work with, and turn it into a win situation for the University as well as for that person."
Likes? "I like to play tennis, practice yoga; I do a lot of crafts and reading - I really enjoy nature. I almost have too many hobbies."
Dislikes? "Sometimes people don’t treat each other with as much respect that I think people should have. No matter what the issue is, respect should always be there."
Anything unusual in the refrigerator? "Oh, not too many people will have this. I’ve been going to school as I’ve been working, and I will graduate in spring commencement. The night before last my daughter made me a pizza in the shape of a commencement cap - the mortarboard, tassel, and the whole deal." Yumm!
We want to encourage comments and contributions from our readers. Please address any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. Current and past issues are available on the web at www.fau.edu/osd.
This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca Campus: SU 133; phone (561) 297-3880, TTY (561) 297-0358. Davie Campus: MD I, Room 104; phone (954) 236-1222, TTY (954) 236-1146.