Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) becomes Disability & Access (D&A)
Services for Students with Disabilities is excited to be changing our name to Disability & Access! This new name better reflects the scope of work that we do to promote and celebrate disability as part of our campus diversity and to support accessibility efforts across campus. We will continue to focus on student access and accommodations in an academic environment but our work already goes far beyond this role. Our new name more accurately captures the many different ways we support students with disabilities and our campus partners in ensuring equal access and full participation at UT.
Services for Students with Disabilities has gone through many changes since adopting this name in 1991. In the past five years, our staff has grown to include seven new Coordinator positions, an Interpreter Scheduler and an Outreach and Educator Coordinator (bringing us to nineteen staff members) and we have more than 3,000 students using accommodations through our office. As a result of the pandemic, SSD became involved in many committees and work groups to ensure policies, academic experiences, technology and programming were still accessible to students with disabilities and members of the campus community. Our staff have continued to be involved in many of these partnerships to ensure accessibility is at the forefront of planning and decision-making across campus.
SSD consulted with the SSD Student and Faculty Advisory Committees and the Disability Advocacy Student Coalition as we went through the name change process. There was widespread agreement that the word Disability needed to remain in the name, claiming the existence and identity of disability on campus. There was recognition that not all students identify with the word disability, however, most of our constituents felt strongly that rather than remove the word disability because of ongoing stigma, we should proudly claim it and continue work to normalize and celebrate disability as part of our campus diversity and student population. Adding the word “Access” provides space for those who don’t identify with the word disability to see themselves in the name and highlights the work that we do and obligation we have to ensure campus is accessible to people with disabilities. Instructors connected with the word “Access” as an acknowledgement of the role they play and how our office can support their efforts to make their learning environments accessible to students with disabilities.
We all play a role in making campus accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities. Disability & Access will continue to provide consultation, resources, services and support to engage everyone on campus in this important work, specifically in regard to student access/accommodations, accessibility in the classroom, disability-related training and education on a variety of topics. At Disability & Access, we value disability as part of our campus diversity and are committed to supporting accessibility efforts across campus. Disability & Access; it’s who we are and what we do.
Over the summer we will be working to transition to our new name so that when Fall 2022 arrives, Disability & Access will be the name we are using in all our communication and material. We are excited about the future of Disability & Access at UT!
History of Disability Services at UT*
- 1977: Special Services Program within the Dean of Students Office first listed in the catalog
- 1978-1979: Special Services Program changed to Services for Handicapped Students, still under the Office of the Dean of Students in the yearly catalog
- 1982-1983: Services for Handicapped Students is listed as its own section in the catalog and the name is changed to Services for Physically Disabled Students
- 1988-1989: Name changed to Services for Students with Physical Disabilities, still part of Dean of Students under Retention Services
- 1991-1992: Name changed to Services for Students with Disabilities
- 2007: SSD is moved to the newly created Division of Diversity and Community Engagement
- 2022: SSD changes name to Disability & Access
*SSD’s history researched through ProjectLEAD 2019-20 by Angelica Garza, Vivi Vargas, Michelle Cajero, Andrew Le, and Nathan Hughes.