College Unbound

You Don't Know What You Don't Know – A Disability Services Perspective

January 11, 2022 Focus Collegiate Season 2 Episode 8
College Unbound
You Don't Know What You Don't Know – A Disability Services Perspective
Show Notes

Our subject is ‘You don't know what you don't know – A Disability Services Perspective.’ Our guest is Dee Singly. Dee is the Director of Disability Services at Ursinus College. She facilitates accommodations for students under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has a B.S. in Psychology, from East Stroudsburg University, an M.Ed. in Counseling and Human Services, and a Ph.D., in Special Education from Lehigh University. She has also worked in Disability Services at Cedar Crest College, Moravian College, and Chestnut Hill College.

The best disability service supports start with student self-advocacy and self-determination—skills that are often new to first-year students. Dee tells us that “The most important part of connecting a student with what they need in college is that very first conversation [in the disability services office] … This may be the first experience a student has had talking outside of the family about their disability. A student needs to feel comfortable, and this takes practice.”

The ratio of students to DSS support staff can vary wildly, but 400:1 is not uncommon. Under these circumstances, self-advocacy is crucial. It starts with self-awareness. When a student knows the answers to the following questions:

 -       What is my diagnosis?

-       How does it impact my life?

-       What impacts does my diagnosis have in the classroom?

-       What are the impacts from a social perspective?

They are more likely to get the support they need.

We also discuss decreasing the stigma of asking for help and the differences between support in high school versus college. Accommodations in college are meant to create access whereas in high school, they are focused on success. In college, success is dependent upon the student.