ADAPTS welcomes student volunteers

Students looking to commit to making a difference for their fellow Tech students for the new year should look no further than the Georgia Tech ADAPTS Office. The Access Disabled Assistance Program for Tech Students has been hard at work to ensure that students with disabilities have services and resources at their disposal, helping them succeed academically and access the same opportunities as every student who enrolls in the Institute.

The note taker program is another popular opportunity and a paid position, where participants take notes for students with documented disabilities in classes they have already registered for.

“Our note taker program is a great example of Tech students at their best. They are a staff of very dedicated and responsible students who agree to share their notes, and it turns into a win-win situation…because note takers pay more attention in class and have a great class attendance record,” Marshall said.

Located in the Office of the Dean of Students, ADAPTS has a dedicated staff that provides full time support to students with special needs. There are no additional fees for services. More than 400 students take advantage of the many diverse assistance options, including help registering for classes, arranging on-campus transportation with the Stingerette Paratransit Service, reasonably modifying course requirements and supplying recording devices.

“Our office is always looking for new ways to incorporate innovative and accessible technology in our work. We welcome students who volunteer their time to assist in making Tech a welcoming and inclusive environment for students with disabilities,” said Denise Johnson Marshall, Assistant Dean and Director of Disability Services.

ADAPTS also aims to improve the understanding of the need for accommodation for disabled students throughout the Institute. A commonly-raised ethical issue is the question of fairness in classrooms. Accommodations in classrooms help disabled students compete on equal ground with other students in class.

Through several efforts, the ADAPTS office has been able to increase the amount of support shown around campus.

For example, the ADAPTS Office has held two “Amazing Race” runs dedicated to “shining the spotlight on disability awareness.” Offering events like wheelchair basketball and goal ball, the Amazing Race is meant to reduce the stigma associated with disabled students and highlight their presence on college campuses.

The ADAPTS Office encourages all students to get involved with its services through a variety of programs. “The Amazing Race to Shine the Spotlight on Disability Awareness” is a student-led event to educate the campus community, and ADAPTS has collaborated with a Computer Science senior design project to develop a new online exam scheduling program.

One of the most important accommodations that the ADAPTS Office provides to students with disabilities is its exam proctoring services, administered through the Testing Center in the Student Services Building. Many of the students require extended time on exams, but the center also offers Sign Language interpreters for the hearing impaired, enlarged print, Braille and other alternative testing procedures.

“Although our staff is small, we managed to proctor close to 2,000 exams during the academic year for students, [and] we provided notes for 179 courses in the fall semester thanks to our note taker program,” Marshall said.

Staff members and the student volunteers who work with the ADAPTS Office are advocates for students as individuals beyond their disabilities. They work closely with them to understand what they need to make the most out of their Tech experience.

“The most fulfilling aspect of our work is the development we see in our students over time. Students with disabilities who were once unsure about requesting accommodations are now strong advocates for other students and want to educate the campus,” Marshall said.