UAS students using disability services quintuples from 2008

JUNEAU — The number of students using disability services at the University of Alaska Southeast is more than five times what it was in 2008.

There were 23 students at the Juneau campus using those services eight years ago, when the Americans with Disabilities Act broadened its definition of disability. Since then, that number has grown to 119 students, according to KTOO-FM.

The upward trend has also been seen at the university’s Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses, but their increases haven’t been as significant.

Margie Thomson, the coordinator of counseling and disability services at UAS, attributes the increase to a larger presence of “hidden” and “temporary” disabilities. She said hidden disabilities are conditions that are not easy to see, such as mental health conditions and learning disabilities, while temporary disabilities are usually the result of injuries that people can recover from.

Thomson began working in disability services the same year the ADA amendment passed. The university added another part-time position to help out on campus about three years ago.

“For me it was awesome. I guess I’ve been a disability rights advocate for a long time,” Thomson said. “It’s been a little tricky sometimes working with all the services in the university. It’s involved more collaboration with facilities for physical accommodations.”

Traci Taylor, who graduated from UAS in May, said she benefited from the school’s disability services.

She said she had been struggling with anxiety and had trouble “keeping things straightened out in my head” when staff allowed her to take tests outside the classroom and recommended she use a smartpen equipped with a microphone to record lectures.

“It’s great to be able to go back and listen to whatever I missed during that time,” Taylor said.

Taylor, who now works in the university’s information technology department, said her test scores improved and school got easier with the university’s help.

University officials could not provide exact dollar figures for what it costs to provide disability services. However, citing fear of violating the ADA, the university sought an additional $250,000 for disability services earlier this year. The Legislature shot down the request.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 13

Here’s what to expect this week.

Residents of Strasbaugh Apartments on Gastineau Avenue and others in the neighborhood wait outside a sealed-off area Sunday morning after a landslide triggered by heavy rain hit the building. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Landslide triggered by heavy rain damages apartment building on Gastineau Avenue

Officials close street as multiple mudslides reported; up to 4” more rain forecast by Monday night.

Shelley McNurney (right) and Tami Hesseltine examine a muticolor storage shelf in the gym of the former Floyd Dryden Middle School on Saturday, where surplus items from the school were being sold to residents and given away to nonprofit entities. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
No more pencils, no more bookshelves: Floyd Dryden works to clear out surplus items large and small

Furniture, microscopes, pianos among gymful of items being given away or sold by shut-down school.

Former President Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday. Trump was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt; gunman identified

One rally attendee and the shooter dead, two other spectators critically injured.

Looking like a gray turtle, an automated mower cuts grass in front of Thunder Mountain Middle School with boxes stacked in a classroom window beyond. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Random adventures of robo-mowers…now performing again this summer at Juneau’s schools

Four pillow-sized bots resembling turtles with tiny razor-sharp blades provide class for the grass.

Disney Williams (right) orders coffee from Lorelai Bingham from the Flying Squirrel coffee stand at Juneau International Airport on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New coffee stand at airport stirs up heated dispute about having proper authorization to operate

Fans of Flying Squirrel Espresso praise location, hours; officials say FAA violations could be costly.

Nano Brooks and Emily Mesch file for candidacy on Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Clerk’s office in City Hall. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
City and Borough of Juneau regular municipal election candidate filing period opens

So far, most vie for Assembly District 2 seat — mayor, Board of Education, and District 1 also open.

Killah Priest performs at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center in December 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lance Mitchell)
Killah Priest sets new record with Alaskan artists on ‘Killah Borealis’

Wu-Tang Clan rapper seeks to lift Alaskan voices and culture in his return performance to Juneau

Most Read