Disability Services offers uncommon volunteer opportunity
Published: Monday, December 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 10:12
Volunteering benefits everyone, even the volunteer. Some benefits include developing leadership, opportunity to enhance a résumé, meet new people, receive letters of recommendation, reveal hidden talents or strengths and make a difference. One atypical volunteer opportunity offered through Disability Services Ghostwriting, when a student takes notes in a class and shares a copy with a student with a disability.
A student sharing a copy of the notes allows the one with a disability to spend more time concentrating on the content being taught in class rather than the mechanics of trying to get it all down on paper. Students who may need Ghostwriter services include, but are not limited to: hearing impairment, learning disabilities, hearing disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, autism spectrum, Asperger’s syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Psychiatric disabilities and certain medical/health conditions.
A-State is committed to providing opportunities for students with disabilities in higher education. Disability Services is responsible for the coordination of academic, non-academic and other adjustments for students with disabilities. In addition, the staff wants to ensure access for students with disabilities in compliance with Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended, ADAAA and ADA Accessibility Guidelines ADAAG.
There are three simple ways to become a Ghostwriter. One way is to go to Disability Services to complete a Ghostwriter Volunteer Application. The second is to simply volunteer if an instructor announces the opportunity in class. The third way is sign-up online to complete and submit the Ghostwriter Note-taking Volunteer Application.
After signing up a student will be put in the class matching system the Office of Admissions, Records & Registration has to see if he or she is taking a class with a disability student. If so, the student will receive an email from Corlisha Presley, note-taking program coordinator, as a notification that the Disability Services will need the notes.
A Ghostwriter will stay in the class matching system until he or she graduates, withdraws from the university or tells Presley to be taken out of the system.
“Being a Ghostwriter is a program that students can get a lot of volunteer experience from and it does not take a lot of extra time,” Presley said.
Tamaras Jack, junior accounting major of Pine Bluff, became a Ghostwriter because he works in Disability Services and wanted to help out. He has handwritten notes for two classes, Business Law and Biology.
“I do not like taking notes but being in the program helps me take better notes and I am helping someone else out,” Jack said.
The most recent statistics of the Note-Taking Program are from the last school year. There were 153 students with disabilities enrolled in the Note-Taking Program and 494 registered Ghostwriters.
“Unfortunately, there is never enough ghostwrites to match up with all the classes disability students have,” Presley added.
However, Disability Services tries to accommodate to disability students when there is not a Ghostwriter available for them in numerous ways. Otherwise the office does recruiting for Ghostwriters at the ASU Clubs and Organizations Fair at the beginning of the school year and on the first floor of the Student Union during lunchtime.
Corey Green, a junior psychology major of Hot Springs, discovered the Ghostwriter program at the club and organization fair. She talked to Presley about the program and has since been involved.
“I already take very extensive notes that friends and classmates ask me for so I thought the note-taking program would be good for something I already do,” Green said.
Presley said she thinks being a Ghostwriter is a wonderful opportunity to help students.
“Volunteers are helping both themselves and their classmates. Many volunteers have said their note-taking skills have greatly improved by taking notes for another student,” Presley said.
As a token of appreciation for volunteering, Disability Services will provide letters of recommendation and sign-off on any volunteer or community service hours students may need to fulfill social organization or internship requirements. Disability Services recognizes all of its volunteers by hosting a Volunteer Appreciation Reception at the end of fall and spring semester before final exams start.
“I do not do any other volunteer activities or extracurricular activities but I will continue to be a Ghostwriter throughout the rest of my college career,” Jack said.
Green encourages other students to become Ghostwriters.
“Taking notes is something you should be doing but then you can also help other students. I have talked to some disability students and they said it helped,” she said.
The program is essential in ensuring that students have access to course information and materials, to increase their likelihood of academic success. Students needing to use the Ghostwriter service should contact Disability Services before the end of the semester currently enrolled and no later than the first two weeks of the new semester to allow enough time to try and get Ghostwriters. To fill out an online application visit http://webapps.astate.edu/ada/note_taker.php.