DSPS calls attention to Disability Awareness Month

By Andrew Ayala

November is Disability Awareness Month and the Diversabilities Support Program and Services (DSPS) is sending out newsletters this upcoming week to faculty and staff to raise attention.

The goal of DSPS is to assist students with disabilities, whether the disability may be visible or invisible, chronic or temporary, so students may have equal access to all aspects of campus life.

This is done by teaming up the students and their professors to discuss the individual needs of the student. This way together, they can select the best option for an ideal possible learning outcome.

“Our role is to assist students with verified disabilities and give them equal access to the classes and provide them services according to their functional limitations,” DSPS co-coordinator Patricia A. Salgueiro said.

This program provides students with various assistive technologies to aid students in their classes.

An example of assistance they provide is the SmartPen. This pen comes with a special paper provided by the institution.

The pen is equipped with a microphone and allows it to record the lecture. The student would then take notes on the special paper the same time it is recording.

With this device, the pen is able to pinpoint the exact time location of the lecture in which the student might have missed. This allows for a more exact note taking.

“The smart pen is great, it allows me to focus more without worry. I go to the offices three to five times a week,” East Los Angeles College student Natasha Martinez said.

There is also a program within DSPS called the Shared Notes Program.

This program allows students to share their notes to those with disabilities.

It can also be seen as a volunteer opportunity for those without a disability but want to get involved with the program.

“It is important for us students to know that there are various resources at our reach to be able to further our education, so anyone who cannot willingly admit they have a disability can go get the help they need,” first-year ELAC student Yolexiz Camacho said.

To qualify for these services, a student must submit a disability verification form that has been filled out and signed by a doctor or other professionals.

Upon acceptance into the program, the student will meet with a counselor to discuss a learning plan that is tailored specifically to the student’s needs.

This educational plan will include the resources that DSPS offers, which include the use of a high-tech center lab, testing accommodations, counseling, and other academic adjustments that may also include an equipment loan if the student so desires.

Some students are comfortable with talking about their disabilities, while others may not be.

“We like to use a soft referral for the shy students,” Salgueiro said. A “soft referral” is an indirect invitation to a student who could potentially benefit from the program.

This invitation is a list handed to the student that mentions other programs on campus in addition to DSPS.

The program currently helps 1600 students and is projected to reach 2000 by next year.

If a student or member of the faculty has any questions, they are invited to call (323) 265-8787 or visit the DSPS office in E1-160, which is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

With contributions from Sonny Tapia, Melisa Valenzuela, Adam Robles and Mariana Montoya.

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