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HomeNewsCampus NewsUCI Disability Services Center Offers Accommodations and Support to Students with Disabilities

UCI Disability Services Center Offers Accommodations and Support to Students with Disabilities

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Founded in 1986, UCI’s Disability Services Center (DSC) is an essential service for UCI students with disabilities seeking accommodations and support. The center provides assistance such as time extensions on tests, notetakers and golf cart rides for those who cannot access certain parts of campus. 

The center, which was founded by Dr. Patricia Romero, was created to assist disabled students. Since its founding, the center’s resources have expanded to include Ring Road Rides, a series of golf carts that help disabled students get to places that they find inaccessible; note-takers, who help write notes for students who cannot write quickly enough; and modified furniture for those who find the standard desks too small. Most of these services are run by student volunteers, who sign up for the program. 

“[Students] can become a notetaker [or] a Ring Road Ride driver … work in our office as a student assistant, work in our Assistive Technology Group as an e-text editor, or [on] our social media team,” DSC Assistant Director Kerry Kimble said. 

Kimble has been working with the DSC for four months. She works with the disabled because of her disabled parents and joined UCI’s DSC because of their values like diversity, inclusion and equity. 

“I grew up with disabled parents, and so disability has always been very present in my life, I’ve always been an advocate for individuals with disabilities,” Kimble said. “Working in a career supporting students with disabilities has really been wonderful.” 

As the DSC’s Assistant Director, Kimble said she hopes to eliminate negative perceptions associated with disability and highlight that disabled students have complex personal identities, just like anyone else. 

“I think a lot of stigma is still surrounding disability,” Kimble said. “[People] make a lot of judgments before they even know a student … What people don’t realize is [that] people with disabilities also have intersectional identities and the disability is not the only part of who they are. It’s important to not make assumptions about individuals with disabilities.”

Kimble said that there are a variety of ways in which one could acquire a disability, showing that disabilities can take on many forms. 

“You could be able-bodied now, but you could be injured at any point in your life. You could have a medical condition … or even [gain] a permanent disability. It can become a part of your identity at any time,” Kimble said. 

Kimble encourages students to educate themselves on the subject of disability and to disregard their previous assumptions in order to become more inclusive.

“[It] is very important — understanding your bias against disability,” Kimble said. “Listening to understand, and not listening to interject, or put your opinion into someone else’s story … and then creating a positive and inclusive environment. These are really all good ways that a general education student can assist a disabled student.” 

The DSC also offers programs to help disabled and non-disabled students connect with each other. One program called Zotability teaches students to subvert their expectations regarding disability and ally themselves with DSC clients. Additionally, a mentorship program is available for disabled students to learn new skills. 

“We have a peer mentoring program, a relationship … in which the mentor … can support the mentee by sharing their knowledge and skills,” Kimble said. “We connect mentors and mentees … and sharpen different skill sets … We really want to empower students … and really [understand] what it’s like to be a student with a disability.”  

Kimble wants more people to care about the underrepresented, especially those with disabilities.

“I think that we should care about all people, but we should especially care about those who are historically underrepresented,” Kimble said. “I think it’s vital to becoming a better citizen. Learning and caring about people with disabilities helps break social barriers to allow inclusion and equity among all people. [It] can really create change in how people view disability. It’s important that we care, listen, learn and ask good questions.” 

Those interested in becoming a peer mentor for the DSC can learn more about the Peer Mentoring Program on the DSC website

Bailey Kanthatham is an Entertainment Contributing Writer for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at bkanthat@uci.edu.