According to the Office of Student Disability Services’ webpage on WTAMU’s website, “In addition to serving as an advocate for students with disabilities, the office also works very closely with faculty and staff members in order to monitor students’ progress and encourage a positive educational experience.”
The Office of Student Disability Services consists of two people for the campus of West Texas A&M University. Director Paul Fenstermaker and Administrative Secretary Teri Simpson work to provide students with disabilities equal opportunity to education with services offered by the university. Jon Davis, assistant vice president for the Office of Student Enrollment, Engagement and Success also serves as supervisor over SDS when certain issues arise that require his input.
“Student Disability Services also advocates for students as additional services or accommodations are deemed necessary in the academic environment,” Davis said. “On occasion, there are areas of concern raised by students which we may be able to assist with, some of which may not be necessarily required by law, but the ‘right’ thing to do.”
Services and accommodations for students with physical or mobility disabilities include physical arrangements to ensure classroom accessibility, alternative testing sites and extended time on tests that require oral testing or scribe services. They also offer note-taking assistance, access to enhanced computer software programs, audio and digital format textbooks and sign language interpreters.
“In addition to serving as an advocate for students with disabilities, the office also works very closely with faculty and staff members in order to monitor students’ progress and encourage a positive educational experience,” is included on the SDS webpage.
Services are also provided to students with learning disabilities such as extended time on tests, providing distraction-reduced environments for testing, note-taking assistance, oral testing and audio textbooks. For students with psychological or chronic diseases, services include alternative testing sites, extended time on tests and note-taking assistance.
According to the Parking Services Division traffic and parking regulations, “Individuals, who legally possess a handicap parking permit, registration tab or other legal device indicating such handicap or disability, are required to obtain a WTAMU permit from PSD. If there are no available handicapped spaces, vehicles bearing handicapped registration devices and WTAMU parking permits may park in the next available solid green, blue or brown parking space.”
Surprisingly enough, handicap parking does not fall under one of the roles that SDS has influence over and instead falls under, more predictably, Parking Services. However, there is a limited amount of handicapped parking spaces on campus and they tend to fill up quickly.
In response to criticism by a faculty member, claiming the services offered to be lacking, Davis said, “If a faculty member or any other member of the university community has a concern, we would welcome their feedback. The department does an excellent job of partnering with faculty members in an effort to help the students succeed.”
SDS offers academic accommodations to any student that has a documented disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Accommodations are provided based on each individual’s disability and is for any individual that has a documented disability and are taking courses through West Texas A&M.