Disability Services in Higher Education committee releases first report

The Disability Services in Higher Education Committee recently released their report “HB22-1255 Disability Services Advisory Committee: Recommendations for Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education.”

The report is the first of two that focus on guidelines and suggestions for improving college and university standards for students with disabilities. The committee was finalized in 2022 and is composed of fifteen members, all with experience and knowledge in higher education and/or disability services.

Ida Dilwood, Director of Disability Services and University Testing Center, is Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee and Karen Markel, former College of Business Dean, is a committee member. Additionally, two UCCS alumni serve on the committee – Gabriel Gates, Co-Chair of Advisory Committee and Coordinator Disability Support Services FRCC-Westminster Campus and Serina Gilbert, Youth Services Program Manager Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The report concentrated on three main areas with corresponding subcommittees: institutional equity and collaboration; accessibility and universal design for learning; and student engagement and success.

Overall, the report finalized 17 recommendations across the three subcommittees. Some recommendations request that state legislators allocate funding to establish resource centers in higher education that help employees support students with disabilities. Other recommendations involve policy and regulations to ensure students with disabilities receive postsecondary education preparatory transition services, expedited student aid appeal processes and equitable student aid for part-time students, and some consisted of guidelines for improved procedures through interagency collaboration practices.

An aspect of change the committee is firm on is the need for more proactive implementation and action in disability measures and strategies. The report asserts that change at higher levels is needed, with campuses moving beyond compliance to incorporate inclusive-universal design and regulation of cross-agency collaboration and community resource partnerships. The committee urges that legislation and policy enacted at the state level is necessary to improve outcomes.

“The committee and disability services advocates are excited about advancing the conversation to enhance the resources and support provided to students with disabilities in the state of Colorado,” said Dilwood. “The recommendations are not solely contingent upon current disability resource systems within institutions of higher education in Colorado.” As the report specified, “improving disability service delivery in higher education requires systemic work that includes state legislation, program policy and integrated systemic procedures to be effective.”

The committee will release a second report with further recommendations in June 2024.

For more information, read the full report online.

About Disability Services at UCCS

Disability Services is a Student Affairs office that supports students with disabilities, temporary injuries and students under Title IX for pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions. Students may not realize their health condition may be considered a disability. Qualified students with disabilities can request academic accommodations such as adjustments, auxiliary aids, or other services to ensure equal access to the educational opportunities. Areas where accommodations are provided include, but are not limited to, the academic environment, housing and residential life setting, student abroad programs, as well as through assistive technology. Accommodations are implemented in an effort to eliminate the impact of barriers caused by the student’s condition.