by Public Relations Office—Cedarville, Ohio
Cedarville, Ohio—Cedarville University recently joined the College and University Disability Access Collaborative (CUDAC) in order to improve all students’ opportunity to succeed in their college career. This first such partnership in Ohio unites 12 member schools from the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, intending to improve access to print materials for college students with disabilities and to share resources between institutions through OhioLink, a virtual library of electronic texts.
Because of dyslexia, blindness, mobility limitations and other various impediments, some students cannot use traditional textbooks, causing them to fall behind in their classes. CUDAC secured a $78,000 grant to provide each school with the necessary equipment to convert students’ textbooks into alternative formats on an as-needed basis. Students can use mp3 files, CDs, computer audio files, or even a text version that can be read with visual enhancing software.
“It’s about leveling the playing field,” says Marilyn Meyer, Cedarville’s Coordinator of Disability Services for Students, a service of the University’s Academic Enrichment Center - The Cove. “We want to do everything we can to give every student the opportunity to achieve his or her academic goals through equal access.”
Converting a textbook into electronic form is a labor-intensive task, often taking more than 40 hours to complete. In the past, schools have converted books independently of each other, possibly resulting in unnecessary duplication. CUDAC now allows participating institutions to access other schools’ converted books. With a total of 13 schools working together, the number of available electronic texts will increase.
“It may take us some time,” says Meyer, “but once the system is up and rolling, we will be better able to serve students who qualify for this accommodation.” Meyer is confident that current and incoming students will greatly benefit from this new program.
Approximately 7 percent of Cedarville’s student population received assistance from Disability Services this past year. Meyer suggests that more students could probably benefit from their services. However, some students may choose not to self-disclose a disability nor request special accommodations.
All students need to meet admissions requirements, so there is no doubt all Cedarville students are very capable of succeeding in their college career. “Our responsibility, as part of the academic enrichment center, is to facilitate a welcoming environment in which students with disabilities have equal access to the educational programs, services, activities, and facilities of the University,” says Meyer. “The entire staff strives to promote the recognition of students’ abilities, not disabilities, and to provide them the opportunity to fully realize and utilize their God-given gifts and skills.”
The Academic Enrichment Center’s recent move to the Center for Biblical and Theological Studies will provide more functional space to meet the needs of students who utilize and participate in the various programs and services offered. “We’re really excited about moving into the new building,” says Meyer. “Both the facilities and the location are wonderful. We’re very thankful for this opportunity and are looking forward to working alongside the faculty and staff of the School for Biblical and Theological Studies to meet both spiritual and academic needs.”