SDC: Annual Report 2021-22

Despite significant challenges with funding, being understaffed and the effects of COVID-19, the SDC continued to serve the University toward its mission of creating accessible environments for all.

With 57% growth of center usage since 2017, the importance of the SDC’s programs and resources was apparent even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Disabled students seeking accommodations were going up before the pandemic and we are seeing even more substantial requests for support as we return more in-person from the pandemic.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, we continued to see a substantial increase in students seeking accommodations. Even so, the center still was able to oversee eleven programs, presentations and professional mentorship endeavors in addition to day-to-day accommodations work to create an inclusive campus.

center usage growth from 2017-2022
STUDENTS SERVED from 2021-22

Overcoming Issues

Navigating tremendous center growth and understaffing are overwhelming in and of themselves. But doing so while also still dealing with pandemic related requests, such as explaining being exempt from mask mandate requirements, add an additional level of complexity to conversations.

Having to educate and inform students, parents, faculty, and staff when certain pandemic related requirements were instated and what it meant to be potentially exempt from these requirements related to a disability presented a large time commitment this academic year.

Focus on programming and social media was put on the backburner as worked to support growing student needs.

Due to laws enacted in Colorado and Human Resources rules, an evaluation of category types for interpreters and transcribers is needed to allow them to continuously work. New rules based on the category they are in requires them to take at least three months off after working nine months. This creates a burden for staff as well as students who need uninterrupted access in their classroom and activities.

Forecast for the Future

SDC staff want to encourage a proactive and inclusive campus that is not so reliant on waiting for accommodations to be determined. The office focuses on presentation and education on how to be inclusive, how to support students and on our responsibilities to meet compliance obligations set forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The office also wants to begin fundraising to garner additional resources that can help fund the growing need for accessibility on campus.

2021-22 SDC Programs

Due to the staff turnover combined with student accommodation needs, the SDC was not able to conduct outreach and presentations as usual. Staffing constraints also meant the SDC did not have anyone designated for programs. Even so, three programs, four presentations and three professional mentorship activities took place during the year, including during Disability Awareness Month.
Academic Coaching

This is a program the office tried to carry over from the previous year, which was led previously by our Assistant Director for Access and Accommodation. Although we felt the program was successful, it was discontinued for spring semester due to capacity and student needs. Doing so freed time for our Accommodation Specialists to conduct student appointments.

Disability Awareness Month Keynote and Workshop

Conducted with Imani Barbarin. Imani Barbarin is an African-American writer, TikToker, public speaker, and disability rights activist.

Doodles and Desserts

Held in both spring and Fall semesters, Doodles and Desserts encourages participants to destress through painting, while enjoying delicious desserts to calm stress-related sugar cravings.

Four Presentations were Conducted This Year

“Access for All: Partnering with SDC to Support Students,” “Center for Students with Disabilities Panel” for the EDHE 680A3 Identity and Cultural Centers course, “Disability Access and Inclusion for Occupational Therapy” student orientation and a Bridge Scholars presentation

Director began meeting weekly with the Associate Dean of the College of Natural Sciences (CNS)

This helped improve communication and needs between the SDC and CNS. Both also worked collaboratively to clarify an understanding between the two departments, and an MOU (memorandum of Understanding) in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel.

Director became co-mentor for Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)

To a group of new disability services professionals starting in the field for our professional organization, Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)

Special Project Involvement

Director was asked to be part of the Disability Services Special Project group for the Colorado Department of Higher Education