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Disability Services accomodates to students' needs Exclusive

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 19:12

disability services

Staci Vandagriff, Photo Editor

During his office hours Wednesday afternoon, Convoicia Forbes, a senior marketing major of Little Rock, looked over the scheduled student’s appointments with the administrators in the Disability Services office.

On average only about four percent of students at ASU are registered through disability services, but for those students, these services are imperative in order to succeed academically.

            Disability Services aids about 500 students each year offering various services, and consists of five full-time staff members.

            “It’s very important for a university like this to have a disability services,” said Jenifer Rice-Mason, director of disability services. “If students with disabilities were not accommodated, it could prohibit their academic achievement.”

            The types of disabilities students possess at ASU include being legally blind or vision-impaired, deaf or hearing-impaired, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, neurological and psychiatric conditions and communication disorders.

            Jamie Fraley, a freshman undecided major of Marion, has a physical disability she noticed a few weeks after having a four-wheeler accident.  

“I was on a gravel road called ‘Bills Grill’ with one of my friends,” she said. “When we were coming back home, we had to pass over a bridge, and my friend stood up on the left hand side of the four-wheeler to put something in her pocket. We flipped off the bridge going almost full speed.”

Her friend tore her Achilles tendon, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that Fraley noticed a pain in her right hip every time she made any kind of movement. Since then, the pain has gradually become worse.

“I have had almost 40 different procedures over the past four years, which include steroid shots or cortisone, even nerve blocks as well as Prolotherapy, a procedure that gets done up to 10 times a week every three weeks and includes a lot of needles. I have also had two main surgeries,” Fraley said.

Both of her surgeries, performed in Nashville, Tenn., met some complications. Her first surgery had never been done by her doctor before, while the second took a lot longer than expected. 

“The second main surgery was only supposed to last an hour but when they went in, they had a hard time trying to release my other muscle,” Fraley recalled. “Four hours later, I was finally finished with surgery. When I woke up I was in a pain that I had never been in before, and they discovered by doing a quick ultra sound that I had a lot of fluid rupturing my nerves, so I had to do an emergency procedure to fix that.”

After her wreck and surgeries, Fraley underwent a lot of recovery time, physical therapy and time on crutches. Now, she is classified as physically disabled/handicapped.

“Times are very hard because I have lived in pain since my wreck every single day of my life, but I have to say that I am extremely positive about it,” Fraley said. “I have definitely become closer to God because I talk and pray to him every night to help me get through this and keep staying positive. I know that things could be much worse, so I am very thankful that this is my only problem.”

Coming to ASU, Fraley had many fears about how she would cope with her disability, but since registering with the ASU disability services, she has found that all needed accommodations have been met.

“In high school, teachers were really lenient on me about my disability, and coming to college, I figured I wouldn't get the help I really needed to make it through classes, but ASU offers the best services for students with disabilities,” she said. “I am able to have a cushioned seat in every class; a golf cart is able to pick me up at anytime to and from class when I need it; I am able to park in handicapped zones, etc.”

In addition to the services Fraley utilizes, ASU disability services has many programs set up to help registered students. Some of those include a note-taking program, extended testing times, reader services programs, ASAP program and more.

“We are trying to recruit 1,000 volunteers to serve as note takers across the curriculum and majors so we can have more and more each semester to pull from,” Rice-Mason said.

The Disability Services Center also has an organization called Delta Sigma Omicron. This program is to help disabled students get involved with service activities as a group.

“We like to think we advocate for disabled students and give them access to the things they need to succeed. Our services are free, and if we don’t offer what they need we help get them to other programs for support,” Rice-Mason said.

Fraley said, “ASU has been very great with the disability services that they apply; they stick to their word and help you out whenever you need it the most.”

At ASU, parking has always been an issue. There are about 263 handicapped spaces set up by the disability and parking services. Government regulations state that for a parking lot with 1-25 spaces, there must be one handicapped space, and after that, you must add a handicapped space each time you exceed 25 more spots.

“There are many benefits of being able to park in a handicapped zone,” Fraley said. “Walking is one of the things that really irritates my hip the worst, and being able to park closer to buildings really helps me out.”

The disability services goal states: “Arkansas State University is committed to providing opportunities in higher education for students with disabilities who demonstrate reasonable college success.”

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