DePaul offers disability accommodations, resources to students

DePaul alum Kennedy Healy has a physical disability that requires her to use a mobility scooter to help her with transportation. 

During her time at DePaul, she used the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) to acquire accommodations while pursuing her degree. 

“I was definitely lonely at times, and it was hard for me to go out and socialize,” Healy said. “I cannot even imagine what it would have been like for students during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Healy did not need a lot of accommodations, except extra time on tests and smooth rides getting to both campuses safely. She said DePaul accommodated her with CTA train and bus systems. 

She said she avoided taking the buses because it was hard getting on and off of them. 

Healy said CSD granted her the accommodations, but it was difficult communicating with them. She said the office barely responded to her and it took hours to get what she needed scheduled.  

Healy said that as a result of her disability, she felt the need to isolate herself from social activities on campus. She said it created emotional problems for her and that other disabled students on campus feel the same sentiments. 

She said on top of the emotional problems at DePaul, there are a lot of physical barriers for disabled students, including a lack of access to bathrooms, classrooms and essential facilities in the school. 

Healy said the barriers create an unsafe environment for disabled students leading to anxiety, isolation and depression. 

Mark Weber, a law professor at DePaul, thinks DePaul has gotten better over the years at accommodating students.  

“DePaul is definitely making strides in regard to disability awareness and accommodations,” Weber said.  

The university has several resources available  to students, including giving more time for testing and having everyone in classes wear masks in class for immunocompromised students. 

No one from the CSD office was willing to comment to The DePaulia for this article. Staff members on both campuses reached out for this article.  

CSD – according to their website – aims to provide students with disabilities the accommodations they need to be successful while attending DePaul.

The office also attempts to raise disability awareness and educate students, faculty and staff about treating disabled people respectfully. 

DePaul offers courses for the Special Education majors that talk about how to modify content for special learners, inclusion in the classroom and teaching students with more significant disabilities. 

Additionally, they offer a course titled WRD 232: The Language of Disability. This course considers a variety of texts to explore the role language plays in determining what it means to have a disability. 

By altering the instructional material and delivery of the content in a simplified way while keeping the essential content of the instructions, Healy said schools create a safe and inclusive environment for students with disabilities through educational accommodation. 

Healy said schools could increase inclusivity by including a sign language interpreter and providing large print books for students with visual impairments.  

She also said the university should ensure physical accessibility of classes by giving students specialized elevators, ramps and modified bathrooms. 

Corey Browers, head principal at the New Horizon Center – a school dedicated to students with severe cognitive and physical disabilities, said it is educators’ responsibility to support disabled students. 

“[It is] our responsibility as educators to that, to make sure that trying to support them [and to] not create additional barriers for them,” Browers said. 

Browers said his staff at New Horizon Center helps to create opportunities not barriers for their students. 

“To see the resilience of our staff, we did it,” Browers said. “They just rose to the occasion. That was powerful for me as an educator.” 

Weber said that regardless of disability status, people should be granted equal opportunity.

“It’s just as important for disabled people than non-disabled people to have an education,” Weber said.