Office Name

What is current practice? 

Typical office titles focus on service delivery for individual students with disabilities and the disabled student’s individual need for support and assistance. There is a trend toward avoiding the word “disability.” 

Traditional Examples:

  • Disabled Student Services 
  • Office of Disability Support Services
  • AccessAbility Office 
  • Office of Special Services

What are the implicit messages? 

  • Disabled students require a separate office focused on their needs in order to achieve. 
  • Disabled students are unable to achieve without professional assistance. 
  • The service office is largely responsible for the success of disabled students. 
  • The word “disability” is negative. When the word ‘disability’ is intentionally excluded from an office title or the word is corrupted, such as disABILITY, it adds to the stigma of the word and discourages a positive affiliation. 

How might this be different? 

Refocused Examples: 

  • Disability Resources 
  • Office for Disability and Equity 
  • Disability Access Center
  • Disability Resource Center 
  • Disability and Accessibility Resources

What is the potential impact of this change? 

  • The term “resources” suggests options and choices available to all members of the campus community. 
  • Disability is valued and not presented as a problem. 
  • Terms like ‘equity’ position disability as an aspect of diversity. 
  • The focus is not exclusively on students; this change allows for an emphasis on designing inclusive environments that minimize the need for individual accommodations or services. 
  • An institution-wide role for the service office is established relative to the design of all campus environments, rather than limiting its reach to services for individual students. 
  • Using disability in the office name ensures people can easily seek and find resources and creates an opportunity for students and others to embrace a positive affiliation with disability.

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