EDWARDSVILLE - The days of using disability as a label for specific support services are gone at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Refreshed in name, space and accommodations is the University’s Accessible Campus Community and Equitable Student Support (ACCESS) office.
“We always tell students, ‘If you think we can’t help, come talk to us anyway, because chances are there’s something we can do to assist,’” said ACCESS Director Dominic Dorsey.
“We operate from a social model of disability, versus a medical model of disability,” he explained. “Accessible campus community means that it’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure that the campus is welcoming, regardless of ability, education or background. We want it to be an equitable situation, so that not only do students have shoes, so to speak, but also they have shoes that fit.”
Located in the Student Success Center Room 1203, ACCESS underwent renovations during summer. The office is now more than double in size and offers a large, bright environment that is both inviting and accommodating.
“Students can now come in, and if they use a wheelchair, they can do a 360 in what we refer to as our living room,” Dorsey said. “They no longer have to make five turns to get around. We have more than 20 spaces for student testing to take place, as well as expanded office areas and a conference room.”
ACCESS’s services are extensive. Along with enhanced support with counseling, testing and note-taking, the office is expanding its BUILD Mentoring program.
“Our BUILD Mentoring program allows students transitioning to campus to pair with a faculty or staff member on campus, who will provide strong support to the student and be invested in their success. We pair them based on common interests, and they meet once a month,” Dorsey said.
The campus and surrounding communities are invited to a Grand Opening event from 2-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20. No RSVP is required.
Additionally, the office’s inaugural Ed Roberts Champions of Accessibility Celebration Dinner will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 in the Morris University Center’s Meridian Ballroom. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit siue.edu/access/.
“We’re excited to introduce visitors to our new space during the grand opening,” said Dorsey. “Our Champions of Accessibility Dinner will celebrate the students we serve. The event will honor Ed Roberts, who is considered to be the founder of the independent living movement. Our keynote speaker will be Sara Minkara, founder and CEO of Empowerment through Integration (ETI).”
Details on ACCESS’s mission and efforts to achieve an accessible campus for all are available at siue.edu/access.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose to shape a changing world. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 13,000.