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APSU’s Student Disability Resource Center working to make campus more accessible

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Last month, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) hosted a Silent Dinner to celebrate differences and raise awareness for the deaf community and disabilities in general.

Various modes of non-verbal communication were encouraged during the evening, including American Sign Language, general hand gestures, writing on notepads, and facial expressions.

“The takeaway from the event is to advocate and have a better understanding of the deaf community,” said Dustie Lynn Boxx, with the SDRC at Austin Peay State University.
Jamie McCrary, SDRC director, recently sat down with APSU communication intern Aalyah Martinez to talk about accessibility at APSU.
Here’s what he had to say.

What is APSU doing to be more accessible?

The SDRC is committed to promoting accessibility throughout our university campus. I am the chairman for the accessibility committee, along with a student representative who relates to our office as receiving services. The committee is a standing committee that addresses accessibility throughout the University both physically and regarding accessible learning materials.

Our office provides digital textbooks to our students, various software such as notetaking applications, software for our visually impaired students and provides sign language interpreting and captioning services for our deaf and hard of hearing students. We have an in-house braille printer, as well as access to a 3D printer for students who might need to access the materials in a different way.

SDRC provides a place for students to take their exams in a quieter, less distracting space, which is one of our greatest utilized accommodations. In short, SDRC evaluates the student’s needs and provides the reasonable accommodation that will assist them to meet their academic goals.

What other services does APSU provide?

APSU has a program designated specifically for students on the autism spectrum called Full Spectrum Learning (FSL) which is housed in the Eriksson College of Education. Our office and theirs collaborate to serve students on the autism spectrum collectively. It is noteworthy to say that there only three other programs in the Southeast like FSL in the university setting.

Our university has committed to ensuring that content via the web meets ADA standards. Not only content that is viewable by the public but also materials that are utilized for student learning engagement. In addition, our faculty has made great strides in utilizing and promoting web-based textbooks which aid in accessibility being universal design.

How, if at all, can APSU be more accessible?

I would say getting the word out that having a disability does not define who you are as an individual is a way that both professional staff and students can engage in aiding accessibility. Currently, we serve over 1,100 students by providing accommodations, however, statistics reveal that almost one in four (25%) of the institutional student body has an identifiable disability.

Making students aware that a disability is not just a physical one, but a mental health disability also can impact a student’s learning ability. Nonvisible disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, and dyslexia can be a diagnosis where accommodations can assist the student to be successful in college.

Our office is committed to sharing that any disability, both visible and nonvisible, will not define you and you can be successful in your college experiences.

What are some other events this office holds?

SDRC hosts several events throughout the academic year such as this silent dinner, an open house with free food – i.e., grilled cheese sandwiches, popcorn, walking tacos. In the spring, we promote a T-shirt design contest where a student can submit a design for the upcoming academic year to be the logo for the office.

In the beginning of the semester, we provided in-depth training to our faculty and staff concerning serving students with disabilities along with providing training to our staff at the learning resource Center on how best to serve our population.

We are involved in recruitment of students in the K-12 setting who are considering coming to our university for the next academic year by providing resource tables during academic resource fairs in different counties across the state.

The SDRC is currently looking for students who are interested in leading a student-led organization for this office.

For more information, please go to: https://www.apsu.edu/disability/.


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