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Margaret Camp University of South Carolina Upstate Gladys Loewen Consultant. Disability Services: Gate Keeper or Door Opener. Session Plan. Explore attitudes, policies & practices that open doors intended & unintended outcomes of policies & practices civil rights intent of the law.

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Margaret camp university of south carolina upstate gladys loewen consultant

Margaret Camp

University of South Carolina Upstate

Gladys Loewen


Disability Services: Gate Keeper or Door Opener

Session plan
Session Plan


  • attitudes, policies & practices that open doors

  • intended & unintended outcomes of policies & practices

  • civil rights intent of the law

Core beliefs presentation
Core Beliefs (Presentation)

  • Inclusion & full participation are a right, not a privilege

  • Policies, practices & language can open and close doors

  • Access issues stem from inaccessible or poorly designed environments

Door opener
Door Opener

  • What policies & practices in DS office open doors for disabled students, ensuring inclusion & full participation?

  • Impact of these policies & practices

Gate keeper
Gate Keeper

  • What policies and practices in DS office have a gate keeper function?

  • Impact of these policies and practices?

Part of the problem
Part of the Problem

  • “We can’t make ourselves part of the solution without seeing clearly how we’re connected to the problem.” Alan Johnson. Privilege, Power, and Differences. 2006

Gatekeeper role
Gatekeeper Role

How does it creep into DS work?

  • Diagnosis/forced categorization: false binary of ability/disability

    • standard deviation

    • discrepancy model

  • Documentation/eligibility requirements

  • Legal compliance as a threat and a threshold

  • Individualized accommodations (versus inclusive design)

The gatekeeper role
The Gatekeeper Role

  • “services” versus “access”

  • ownership of “our” students and increasing numbers


  • “...implementation of the medical model in health care, social services, education, private charity and public policies has institutionalized prejudice and discrimination” Longmore, 2003

The call for change
The Call for Change

  • “…especially in light of the ADA amendments which tell us to move away from burdensome demands to prove disability and to focus more on what accommodations a person will need. Just as we evaluate and determine what is a reasonable accommodation, taking into account the individual’s needs and the requirements of the environment in which the person is situated (classroom, lab, dorm, etc.), I believe that disability departments need to rethink what constitutes “reasonable documentation” and its purposes.” Jean Ashmore, June 2011 Alert

The call for change1
The Call for Change

Discrepancy Model vs. Response to Intervention (RTI)

  • focus on internal nature of disability vs. external changes

  • statistics to determine significant outliers in normal distribution

  • requires student to fail a certain degree before being identified

  • testing occurs outside learning environment; testing error not taken into account; accepted as average performance

The call for change2
The Call for Change

  • ADA Amendments Act

    • Restore original human rights protections and intents

    • That became too narrowly defined through legislation

    • It moves the question from does the student have a qualifying disability to has the institution made every effort to provide access? Salome Hayward webinar, 2011

M essages

Intended and Unintended


  • How policies, procedures, language, and actions give off messages


  • What messages are given when accommodations are recommended or arranged?

Accommodation quote
Accommodation Quote

  • Adjustments and accommodations tend to “reinforce the individual/medical notion that disability resides with the individual” Guzman, 2008


…has the power to make us feel competent or incompetent; it has the power to include us or exclude us.

Elaine Ostroff, Founding Director, Institute for Human-Centered Design

Sample mission statement
Sample Mission Statement

Disability Services for Students is the University’s student affairs office which assures program access to the University by students with disabilities. We coordinate & provide reasonable accommodations, advocate for an accessible & hospitable learning environment, & promote self-determination on the part of the students we serve.

Sample documentation guidelines
Sample Documentation Guidelines

Students with disabilities are responsible for providing documentation of their disabilities to the Office of Disability Services. This documentation must both establish disability & provide adequate information on the functional impact of the disability so that accommodations can be identified & provided. This documentation will be kept confidential & maintained in a locked file. All documentation should:

Sample documentation guidelines cont
Sample Documentation Guidelines Cont.

  • Come from an appropriate licensed clinical professional familiar with the history & functional implications of the disability

  • Verify the nature & extent of the disability in accordance with current professional standards & techniques. This must include a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests & dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation & specific results

Accommodations specialist learning disorders
Accommodations Specialist: Learning Disorders

is responsible for recommendation & delivery of academic support services & accommodations to new & continuing students with LD, ADHD & other disorders that affect learning. This employee works directly with faculty, instructional staff & university administration to address & resolve issues concerning equitable treatment &reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities both in policy & practice...this individual serves as a resource to prospective applicants to the university regarding services available through DSS

What changes in ds
What Changes in DS

If we believe

  • Full participation is right, not a privilege

  • Right to equal access

  • Design has the power to include and exclude

Ponder how
Ponder How

  • DS policies & procedures can be a barrier to achieving full participation

  • DS work changes when accommodations viewed as social solution due to poor design & discriminatory practices

Consider ways to
Consider Ways to

  • Design inclusive environments, minimize need for retrofitting & different treatment

  • Lessen emphasis on documentation to reduce segregation, special treatment & discrimination

Consider ways to1
Consider Ways to

  • Ensure full participation is a right not a privilege based on documentation & benevolence

Capacity for change
Capacity for Change

  • “...the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by -- it's whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.” Barack Obama, 2009