The University Accessibility Center is a resource for students with disabilities to help put them on a level academic playing field with their fellow students.
According to the director of the Accessibility Center, Michael Brooks, its resources are often unrecognized and underused by many students who don’t realize they qualify for assistance.
“There’s a lot of, ‘I wanted to be a physician,’ or ‘I wanted to be a lawyer,’” Brooks said. “By the time they get here and hear about our office, they’re maybe two or three years in, and they weren’t able to achieve that dream, when we could have helped them if they’d known to come in.”
The Accessibility Center provides resources for students with mental disabilities such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and bipolar disorder, as well as accommodations for students with physical disabilities like hearing or visual impairment.
“All a disability is, is a mental or physical condition that significantly impacts some part of your life,” Brooks said. “So really almost any kind of diagnosed condition can fall under that. So it could be emotional conditions, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, autism, any learning issues, dyslexia, things like that.”
Along with accommodations, the Accessibility Center provides information and access to several other resources, including diagnostic tools.
“The Accessibility Center has a number of testing options available to help a student know if they may be suffering from a mental health disorder,” said Aaron Allred, a coordinator at the Accessibility Center. “These options include testing for ADHD, learning disorders and dyslexia.”
An example of a disability-focused scholarship the UAC can help with is the Shire ADHD Scholarship Program from the Edge Foundation, which includes access to an ADHD coach to help students recognize and achieve their goals and manage their unique challenges.
“It’s really innovative because it’s really focusing on helping you learn the things that you have deficits in,” said Peggy Dolane, marketing director at the Edge Foundation. “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s not something you can’t learn to deal with.”
Students wishing to involve themselves with a coach can fill out a personal profile, then interview several coaches to find someone who they feel compatible with.
“If you hate the ones we picked, we’ll give you more,” Dolane said. “It’s like finances, like taking out your first mortgage. You figure it out as you go along, but you probably need somebody to help you, and you need somebody who knows how to work with ADHD.”
Brooks recommends students come into the Accessibility Center and take advantage of its resources, such as obtaining special housing, requesting special testing conditions, prorating BYU scholarships or consulting with the psychologists they have on staff.
“Pretty much the idea is whatever we can reasonably do that will allow a student with a disability to be on an even playing field with a non-disabled peer, we will do,” Brooks said. “And we can get creative in doing that. Sometimes we do the accommodation for one person and we might never do that one thing again.”
The Accessibility Center is located in the Wilkinson Student Center in room 2170.