Meet Jamie Coughlin, assistive technology and testing coordinator for Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). She plays a key role in helping both students and instructors navigate accommodation resources. We caught up with Coughlin, who is also a graduate student in the College of Education’s Educational Leadership and Policy program, to learn more about some exciting new developments in SSD—and how she is working to make UT Austin a more accessible, welcoming place.
Could you please tell us a bit about your work with SSD?
I support students by providing accessible resources for testing and course materials. I also provide outreach and resources for faculty and staff so they can use an accessible universal design approach when introducing academic resources to students in their courses.
I have also worked with campus partners and the Testing and Evaluation Services office to expand testing locations across campus for students. An exciting new development to support accommodated testing this fall is the new Campus Testing Center. SSD will be partnering with Testing and Evaluation Services to pilot the testing location. Students who receive accommodations will now have a central location to take accommodated tests in a testing center, rather than the limited space in the SSD office.
What is the Students on the Spectrum group and how can students get involved?
This group is an opportunity for students on the spectrum to share experiences, ideas and resources with each other. In partnership with Longhorn TIES, I co-host social activities and discussions based on student input. During the pandemic we hosted events virtually, but this fall we are excited to be hosting events in person, and we are possibly looking at hybrid events if they are requested. For the fall semester we are meeting on the first Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. We will have meeting dates and locations posted on the Students on the Spectrum webpage.
What are you most looking forward to when students return to campus this fall?
I look forward to the hustle and bustle around campus. Being able to interact with students on campus has been long missed over the past year-and-a-half. I’m excited to have students entering the office again.
What advice do you have for students—both new and returning—with disabilities?
As new and returning students arrive on campus, I hope they look to SSD for additional support and self-advocacy resources to help promote more accessible academic experiences. UT has great resources for students, and within the SSD office students can meet with their disability services coordinator to discuss barriers or concerns they may face in their courses. In addition to SSD, the Sanger Learning Center is a great resource for academic support. I also recommend students find time for self-care and student groups. There are so many Longhorn events throughout the semester, and they should be enjoyed!
Watch SSD Assistant Director Emily Shryock discussing the resources within SSD, and the value students with disabilities bring to the Forty Acres.