How is Cal U’s Office for Students with Disabilities accommodating students remotely? 

The Office for Students with Disabilities is working remotely to make sure students have equal access to University programs and services. 


Photo by Dan Dimmock on Upsplash

“I think the office of student disabilities is doing a pretty good job considering everything that is going on,”  said Kurtzhal.

Veonna King, Staff Writer

The Office for Students Disabilities (OSD) has been ensuring students with disabilities are able to succeed academically. OSD offers a number of services ranging from note-takers, test accommodations, scribe, priority registration and extensions on an assignment. 

“The Office for Students with Disabilities provides services at bearing levels regarding students with disabilities and their needs,” said John Massella, director of the Office for Students with Disabilities.  

Besides Massella, the staff consists of an administrative assistant, two graduate assistants and 10 student workers. Further things that the Office for Students with Disabilities assists with are extended test time, a reader that can read your test questions to you and alternative text for students that may respond or learn better to an audio format. 

“We ask that they give us copies of their receipt from there textbook then we send those receipts to the publisher and the publisher sends us an electronic version and then we upload to a program called Kurzweil and give the students the password and then the computer can read to you,” said Massella. 

Cal U transfer freshman Hannah Kurtzhal has been diagnosed with bipolar depression. She first began receiving accommodations when she was in the middle of high school. Since being remote, some of her accommodations consist of longer test time, extended time on assignments and a note-taker. Kurtzhal is a veterinary technology major and has said this semester has been quite challenging considering that everything is mostly hands-on learning. 

”I had anatomy and physiology and I withdrew from that class because it was too much, it was a lot of memorization and you can’t really see what it’s like in person,” said Kurtzhal.

Other classes Kurtzhal are taking include zoology, introduction to the veterinary tech and few Honors classes. As for the future, Kurtzhal suggested better tutoring systems and longer office hours if Cal U decided to remain remote next semester. 

The office works with a variety of disabilities ranging from diagnosed learning disabilities, visual impairment, blindness, deafness, diagnosed anxiety and depression.

“Disabilities that may make it hard for them to focus or concentrate or become anxious during an assignment that has an impact on your ability to get an assignment done in a timely manner,” said Massella.

If you are a student with disabilities or you know someone that needs to be accommodated, here is what to expect.

The Office for Students with Disabilities requires a formal assessment report to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations requested by a Cal U student with disabilities. First, you must have a letter from an evaluator that must be a licensed or certified psychologist or neuropsychologist.

After this Massella determines eligibility by asking students what kinds of services they have received in the past and what they think may be best for them currently. Then, Massella will figure out the best services to offer the student.

You can reach out to the Office for Students with Disabilities at [email protected]

“I think the office of student disabilities is doing a pretty good job considering everything that is going on,” said Kurtzhal.