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Big changes coming for Disability Resource Center

Submitted by Mehr-Zahra Shah on August 21, 2013 – 12:21 pmNo Comment

As part of UALR’s commitment to creating an environment conducive to learning, the Disability Resource Center is improving accommodated testing services.

The testing accommodation allows students with disabilities an extended testing time in a reduced-distraction environment. Before, when a student at the center needed testing accommodations, the professor and student would have to work out where and when the test would be administered. The test would usually be given in professors’ offices or departmental conference rooms. Not only does this process make testing a hassle to schedule, but also the testing location is unpredictable.

Now, with UALR’s Testing Services’ collaboration, these accommodated tests will be administered at the Testing Services in the Student Services Center. Sharon Downs, director of the Disability Resource Center, put it best when she said the new facility “creates an environment that tests a student’s knowledge not his or her disability.”

“I think professors have done a marvelous job over the years doing the best they could, but there are so many variables that are out of their control…this takes all those variables out of the picture so students will have a very predictable environment for testing where students don’t have to worry about a loud copier nearby or construction going on outside, because the whole design is for testing.”

Students will now not only have a reduced-distraction environment, but also a consistent, predictable testing environment, which will allow complete focus on the test instead of testing procedures. There are tables with carrels, which are designed to block a student’s peripheral vision and thus reduce distractions in surroundings. There are also private rooms available for students who, for example, need accommodations like voice recognition software to write.

The change is not just beneficial for students. Faculty members will no longer have to spend time coordinating and proctoring exams.

The faculty notification system for student accommodation has underwent a major change; it has gone digital. Before, students with disabilities had to fill out a form available online with information such as the name and course number of their classes. The students would then pick up the letters from the DRC and hand-deliver them to their professors. All of this required quite a bit of effort on the part of students. The new faculty notification system has been lauded by students due to its easy to use interface.

For student James Rowe (name used with permission), the new system was empowering.“This is the first time I have ever done anything for UALR on the computer by myself without having anyone help me,” he said. “It was very gratifying and uplifting.”

The new system has cut down on this laborious process because of the new interface created by UALR’s IT services. When students now go onto the link on the Disability Resource Center website, their class schedules are immediately available, since the link automatically uploads their schedules from BOSS. Therefore, students simply have to select which professors they would like to send a notification. Professors are emailed the notification immediately and a copy of the notification is sent to both the student and the Disability Resource Center.

More information about the accommodated testing procedure and faculty notification process is available on the UALR’s Disability Resource Center website.


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