Students with disabilities on campus and their resources

Anisa Jibrell News Writer

Four years and eight months ago, Ivan Hincapie, a Spanish major, suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his face. Multiple surgeries were done in an attempt restore his vision, but to no avail.  In January 2011, he was officially declared fully blind.

Since the start of his academic career at Southern in the Fall of 2014, Hincapie has had his heart set on becoming a Spanish teacher, but has been running into learning roadblocks along the way.

“I used to be nice, now I am far away from the man who came here a year ago,” said Hincapie.  

Hincapie said he needs math tutorial classes, but said the math tutor’s schedule simply doesn’t work for him.

His schedule doesn’t work for me. I need a formal schedule, I can’t wait for him to say, come back next week. I need formal tutorial classes and I need one hour everyday,” said Hincapie.

According to Goldie Adele, Disabilities Resource Center director, the tutorial service center is open to all students; anyone who comes in has a right to access this service. The service is not exclusive to one person or one group of people, and anyone who is able to sign up can do so.

Tutorial sessions are set up in 30 minute blocks, and students are able to sign up for as many blocks as they want, per the tutor’s schedule. Though Hincapie said he does not want lumped in a “basket” with the other students because his situation is “different.”

“Why do I have to follow that protocol? That’s 30 minutes worth for a person who is able, that protocol is not for a person like me,” said Hincapie. He said he needs six minutes to set up his math templates, templates he cut from cardboard over the summer to aid in breaking down equations.  The templates are lined with voiced stickers that indicate different points of an equation.

A label reader pen enables a user to record voiced labels and attach them to virtually any item in the home or office, then reads them back on demand for easy identification of the items.

Adele said there are accommodations and then there are supplemental services that offices provide, such as tutorial classes.

“Some schools for example, UCONN and other schools, provide tutorial classes at a cost. You pay for it because it’s not an accommodation,” said Adele. “It’s service but we provide everything for free and we’re proud of doing that, and that’s one of the things we are known for.”

Meanwhile, students like Stephen Dayton, a graduate assistant at the recreation and leisure office, are content with the university’s accommodations for students with disabilities.

Although Dayton casted a shadow of doubt on SCSU’s police’s fire alarm protocol for wheelchair dependent students, Chief Dooley ensures that there is a protocol for students with disabilities and responses to fire alarms are quick.

We’re on scene usually within a minute or two probably the max but then they’re making assessments, and depending upon the number of floors and the number of students we need to check, it could take a little bit of time,” said Dooley. “Each situation is different, but if a student is in doubt as to what’s transpiring, we tell them to call the police department because a dispatcher will able to at least update that.”

According to Dooley, police will arrive and work with the housing staff, who will provide them with a list of students that are told to stay in their rooms.  

The officers would then respond to check the building make sure it’s safe, then go knock on those doors to verify if the person’s there or not sometimes they’re not but police make the assumption that they are, said Dooley.

An officer will proceed to check on the student, and if it is something that is not an emergency, the officer would then give them an update and tell them to stay put.

Dooley said if officers still don’t know they’ll tell the student to stay in their room, because all of the rooms have sprinklers so that area is an area of refuge so they’re safe in that room.

“If there is a need to evacuate them from the building, they will coordinate with the responding fire departments to have firemen assist us or we’ll assist them in getting the individuals out,” said Dooley. “Obviously there’s a lot of dynamics going on –they’re looking for signs of things, they’re looking for reports from people that are coming out.

For more information on accommodations for students with disabilities, contact (203) 392-6828, or visit the Disabilities Resource Center on the first floor in Engleman Hall.

Photo Credit: Anisa Jibrell – News Writer

PHOTO: Student, Ivan Hincapie

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