October is Disability Awareness month. Often times when we think about diversity, we overlook citizens who live with disabilities both visible and invisible. A disability can physical, mental, cognitive or developmental. It’s not always easy to relate to someone who is living with a disability but what you can do is assist and accommodate when and where you can, and help create awareness for others in yours and surrounding communities, and Texas Tech University’s Student Disability Services Department is doing just that.
Their department is a unique addition to the campus, providing reasonable classroom accommodations through a simple process. Any student registered has a one-on-one meeting and is to provide documentation so that the proper accommodations are tailored to each students needs, explained senior assistant director, Tamara Mancini. “It’s critical for our students registered with us to receive fair accommodations in the classroom so they have what they need in order to succeed,” said Mancini.
Some of the most popular services among the students in their department include extended times on exams, reduced distraction environments for exams and supplemental notes. There’s also an additional service: drop-in tutoring and the TECHniques center that provides additional tutoring assistance for students with learning disabilities, ADHD and autism disorders.
Since 2009, their department has held an entire week (Disability Awareness Week) with the goal of raising awareness and engaging with the campus and surrounding community. This year’s week kicked off on October 2nd with a school-wide event held at their Student Union Building, continued with other events such as canvas art painting, deaf bingo and concluded with a community partnership art show at the Lubbock First Friday Art Trail. “ We want to convey to the community that anyone can make/do beautiful things- with or without a disability,” explained Mancini. The department contributed 75 pieces that were mostly submitted by students registered with their office.
Although the department’s disability awareness week is a huge initiative, they are very active in raising awareness year-round. They often participate in various fairs held on campus, partner with other campus offices like student housing and freshman orientation courses to speak to groups of students, and even hold an open house of events at the beginning of each semester.
There’s no doubt that the Texas Tech Student Disability Services department is a gem of the campus. It’s always refreshing to see a group of individuals making another group of individuals feel welcomed, comfortable and accepted. “I want the students to know that we are here to help, I know it sounds simple, but it’s what we get the most “thanks” for,“ Mancini continued.
October may be a month of disability awareness celebration, but their work for disabled students on the TTU campus is evergreen; now that’s something to celebrate.