The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is heading into the spring semester better equipped than ever to meet the needs of its diverse student body.
A new software platform, aptly named Accommodate, has launched in collaboration between the Accessibility Center and Project Success and allows the University to better connect students with the resources and assistance they need across all three campuses.
The Accommodate platform—a product of the higher education software company Simplicity—allows for quick and easy communication between students, instructors, offices, academic departments and others.
Between the Accessibility Center and Project Success, upwards of 700 students use a variety of available accommodations. The Accessibility Center provides reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities, including in areas of academics and in the classroom, in housing and dining, in parking and winter weather and beyond.
Project Success is a remedial program for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. It’s one of few university programs in the country to specialize in phonics-based multisensory methodology to improve students’ reading, spelling and writing. The program also provides developmental math instruction and tutoring. Many of the students it serves have been diagnosed with dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or both.
Between the two entities, some of the most common accommodations include extended test times, readers for tests or textbooks and note-taking assistance. Accommodate makes it possible for a student’s needs to be easily accessible 24/7 and shared when necessary.
At the Accessibility Center, Associate Dean of Students Kiersten Bloechl-Karlsen said the platform replaces an outdated system of spreadsheets and paper files.
Bloechl-Karlsen said while hundreds of students do make use of the available accommodations, that group still is smaller than the national average.
“The commonly used statistic is 11% of students on college campuses need accommodations,” she said. “Between the Accessibility Center and Project Success we’re at less than that. For a campus our size, we’re hoping that this database will help just improve the ease at which students can apply for accommodations and work through the process.”
Project Success Director Jayme Reichenberger said the streamlined process is going to make life easier for everyone involved. A student’s accommodations can, for example, be easily communicated from one campus to another, be accessed by instructors anytime they need it and, if desired, be shaped on a course-by-course basis.
In some instances, the online platform replaces systems involving paper documents that sometimes needed to be physically carried from place to place on the campuses.
“The cool thing for instructors especially is they can see all of the students who need accommodations on one screen for each course, whereas before they had to keep paper plans in a folder,” Bloechl-Karlsen said.
Now all the information is available at a moment’s notice—no matter if it’s after hours and the Accessibility Center is closed or if the person logging on is on the other side of the world.