SRU finds to new way to “Accommodate” student success

Faculty memeber training a student worker on a computer

Kim Coffaro, disability services manager for Slippery Rock University’s Office of Disability Services, introduces the online system Accommodate to a student worker in her office. Accommodate helps SRU students with disabilities and their professors manage information and requests for accommodations.

Feb. 12, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Finding new ways to engage and support student success is a priority at Slippery Rock University. This is especially true for the nearly 650 students who are registered with the University's Office of Disability Services.

ODS has recently implemented the Accommodate program, a new online system intended to create a "common space" where students and professors can access accommodation information and requests.

Accommodate, which is accessible through the University's Desire2Learn portal, allows students to submit digital accommodation requests that are sent directly to ODS. The program also schedules appointments with ODS and hosts various academic resources including a "Study Skills Checklist" and "Tips for Test Taking."

While staff training for Accommodate began a year ago, SRU students are experiencing the program for the first time this semester.

"We are finding that with the online access, our office is really cutting down on the paperwork; more readily processing student requests and making a better use of University resources," said Kim Coffaro, disability services manager for ODS. "Now we need an avenue to continue to spread the word about Accommodate so that people will use it more frequently and see the advantages it provides."

"It is really important that accommodations are more accessible for our students who have unique needs," said Matthew Erickson, associate professor and department chair of Special Education. "While the program was just recently rolled out, it is already a huge improvement on our previous operation. It is difficult to know how to help each of our students if we do not have access to their full needs."

For any student diagnosed with a need for a special accommodation - whether it be because of a temporary disability, health condition, physical disability, mental illness, specific visual impairment or other circumstance - arrangements can be made to facilitate the use of note takers, receiving extended test-taking time, using a Smart Pen to better record class notes or other required assistance.

Improved communication is another important mission that Accommodate helps initialize. "Because faculty are a foundation to a student's academic achievement," said Coffaro, "we want them to be involved in two different ways.

"First, we want them to know what the available accommodations are, because it is significantly important that they know the different options available to students and how they can receive them in order to be successful in class.

"Second, we don't want to impose on faculty, and Accommodate allows professors to do everything online, on their own time, and not have to come into ODS or have students approaching them in class to get paperwork signed."

The Accommodate system allows both registered and unregistered SRU students to access accommodation information and resources 24/7, as well as view the resources ODS can provide. New features of the program will be released in the future as the University becomes more comfortable with its functions and capabilities.

For additional information about Accommodate or ODS, call 724.738.4877.

MEDIA CONTACT: Autumn Harth | 724.738.2091 | ash1010@sru.edu