College is an exciting chapter in life, full of undiscovered passions and potential. These formative years offer independence far beyond the scope of what you knew in high school, as well as experiences that will help define who you become.
Yet for people with disabilities, this adventure can feel more like an intimidating challenge.
Thankfully, most colleges have resources to help meet these needs. To access them, students register with a department dedicated toward making college life, classes, lessons, and exams more accessible.
It’s called Disability Support Services (DSS). Every knowledge-seeker who lives with a disability should look into it as they seek out the right campus for their higher education.
An Inside Look at Disability Support Services at Seton Hall
Angela Millman is the Director of Disability Support Services at Seton Hall University. With eighteen years of experience—six of which she’s served at Seton Hall—she has seen firsthand how students can excel when provided with the right resources.
Her job at Seton Hall (South Orange, NJ) is to make the academic environment more accessible to students with various disabilities. Through her experience, she has seen a wide array of needs and challenges. To meet them, her department uses various methods, including (but not limited to):
- Identifying and Addressing Needs in Student Meetings
- Implementing Accommodation Plans
- Improving Access to Courses and Curriculum
- Providing Test Proctoring
- Utilizing Assistive Technology
With more than 500 students registered for DSS at Seton Hall, Millman and her team of employees work diligently to meet each of their individual needs.
“I’ve seen my first and second class of students come in as first-year students and walk out with their bachelor’s and, in some cases, master’s degrees,” Millman said. “To get to know them, get to know their challenges, and be able to help them navigate those barriers to see them achieve their goals and achieve degrees—that’s hugely rewarding.”
Keeping Up with Campus Tech and Accessibility
Part of Millman’s job is to keep up with today’s digital environment. As our world leans on technology more and more, it poses both advantages and challenges for the disabled community.
“We do our best to keep up with assistive technology and stay on top of trends,” Millman said. “The challenge has been to make sure that as technology grows and we utilize it through different courses and in different ways, those different ways are made accessible still.”
This accessibility is often met through various apps and assistive technologies. Each of these tools accommodates specific impairments. Through the collaboration of university faculty as well as IT professionals, DSS makes sure technological advancements are helping, not hindering, students with disabilities.
How to Own Your College Experience
It’s important to note that college requires a level of independence from all students. This includes becoming an advocate for your own needs. DSS is a highly useful resource, but you have to ask for it in order to benefit.
Most students must register for these services during their onboarding process before their academic semester begins.
“For a lot of students, that transition is hard. They’re used to relying on parents or advocates within the high school system,” Millman proclaimed. “In order to make sure they have the best experience possible and get what they need, they definitely need to be familiar with what their needs are, how to express those needs, and how to partner with their disabilities services office.”
Yet there are great achievements to be made by those who take the initiative. Dreamscape Foundation Founder Joe Sehwani is a great example. An alumnus of Seton Hall University, he not only gained his master’s degree in record timing, but he also served as a voice for disabled needs.
“Joe is the type of guy who would pop into our office several times a week, so we all got to know him very well,” Millman, who worked directly with Sehwani, confessed. “He was focused, he knew what he wanted, he was determined, and I think that shows when you can get a six-year degree in four years.
“Joe was a really good self-advocate, so he knew what he needed and knew how to communicate that to professors. He also knew when to reach out and loop me in when a different voice was necessary to help make sure his needs were met.”
Expressing his voice through various articles in the student newspaper, Sehwani actively engaged in outreach to educate the Seton Hall community. In fact, Dreamscape Foundation’s mission was prevalent in his role as a student during his academic career.
However, Sehwani is only one example. Numerous individuals with disability needs achieve their academic goals. You don’t have to be a prodigy to go to college and experience your academic dreams, and life, to the fullest.
Embrace Your Campus Resources
Use your voice to speak up about what you need and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reaching out is never a burden. In fact, that’s exactly why services like DSS are available.
“That’s our role; that’s why we exist: to make sure students with disabilities are not disadvantaged and that they have the accommodations they need to have equal access,” Millman stressed. “We want to be there to help students, but we can’t push ourselves on students.
“If students walk in and they really don’t want accommodations or they don’t really want our help, that’s their choice. That’s part of the growing process sometimes, but we just want to encourage everybody to reach out and to know that there are resources available.
“We are here to help them.”
For more information on Seton Hall and DSS resources, visit their website. You’ll find a host of information about their office, available resources, and how to get started if you plan to attend their university.« PreviousNext »