The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

DSS provides aid for special student needs

By Teri Ragone/reporter

Students with disabilities can find an advocate and assistance on any TCC campus.

Disability support services ensures students receive services and accommodations needed for an education and works with teachers to enhance the learning process.

With DSS assistance, students will find appropriate accommodations, referrals to on- and off-campus resources, application information for taped and large-print books and self-advocacy.

Anyone interested in these services should contact a DSS office at least 20 days before the first day of class.

To obtain disability support services, one must

•be accepted for admission to Tarrant County College,

•complete an application form available through the DSS office and

•provide documentation from a licensed professional in a specific area such as psychological, medical, psychiatric or other related field, indicating the presence of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Carl Scherrieb, South Campus DSS coordinator for the past five years, said almost 100 students qualify for DSS help on South Campus.

“There are note takers, sign language interpreters and access to assistive technology,” he said. “It is two sides together: Students trying to understand subject matter and teachers working with them but not altering the contents of a course.”

Each campus coordinator has stories about students who accomplished what seems like the impossible. Scherrieb described a 19-year-old who, after losing his hearing in a swimming accident, continued with classes. He needed a person to write out anything teachers or others wanted to tell him. Then he answered in his own voice until he became familiar with sign language. He did finish his education.

An art student who was deaf had a sign language interpreter who was a great help during class, not only with the teacher’s instructions but also with social contact, Scherrieb said.

Susan Feasel has been the NE DSS coordinator for five months and is excited about her position.

“We do not have volunteers but do have students in a class that copy notes for a fellow student who is in need of assistance,” she said. “The DSS office will supply carbonless paper for a student to write out notes. They keep the original, and the copy goes to the student in need.”

Feasel said most students who register with DSS are extremely focused. She said one blind student is taking physical education classes and doing fine.

“As in all campuses, we have vision accommodations, adaptive equipment and tape recorders to assist students,” she said.

The SE Campus DSS staff consists of coordinator Joan Moyer and senior secretary Pamela Oliver.

“We have a large testing area and two separate rooms here at our office area we use for testing,” Oliver said. “We use adaptive equipment such as SARA, a software program that reads pages to a student and then they can answer.”

Oliver said the SE office has a braille program that helped one student who used it throughout the two years she attended SE Campus.

“She graduated and is attending a school that is teaching her how to live on her own and use power tools,” she said. “She is also the second vice president of the Association for the Blind.”

Oliver said she didn’t know why the student was learning to use power tools, but she thought it had something to do with showing power within the person.

Coordinator Evette Brazzile said NW Campus uses the braille program as on SE, South and NE campuses.

“Students need to contact the DSS office early, so we can assist them with their needs,” she said. “A written request for a sign language interpreter can take time. We might have to call a community agency to contract with them for an interpreter or we may need to provide books on time to start the semester.”

Brazzile said NW DSS receives about 75 requests for assistance each term.

“The first part of a semester and the last are our busiest times,” Scherrieb said. “When accommodating students to take finals, some may need a reader’s help, separate place or more time. This would be determined by the general requirements for admission to DSS.”

Scherrieb said DSS offers different levels of accommodation.

The Texas Education Code (section 54,205 paragraph b) states that a deaf or blind person who is a Texas resident is entitled to exemption from the payment of tuition and fees at any institution of higher education utilizing public funds upon certification of the appropriate state vocational agency.

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