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An Insider's Guide...

Disability services is a unique field in higher ed. Our charge seems like a relatively simple one: to provide reasonable adjustments because abilities differ. It’s exceedingly more complex, though. We address physical and mental conditions, but we’re not care providers, curriculum, but we’re not faculty, legal compliance, but we’re not attorneys. We might be any one of those things, actually, but the provision of care, assigning of grades, or legal representation are conflicts of interest with our role as a student service provider. It’s a tight rope act, really, and there’s not a lot of training, and fewer safety nets than you might expect.


Disability services is, in some regards, like an oral history. Best practices come from trial and error. And case law. We share our stories of what worked, and what didn’t, with our colleagues on conference calls, at conferences and training institutes, on listservs, and so on. Most of the training in the field happens on the fly, through onboarding and professional development. Unlike K-12 special ed., there haven’t been - until recently - many formal training programs for this line of work.


That isn’t to say that DS professionals aren’t qualified. In fact, quite the opposite. Many folks in the field come from clinical backgrounds, or related fields such as rehabilitation services, special education, social work, even corporate accommodations. The fact is, there are not many direct pathways into the field. Many people ‘happen upon’ DS work, others inherit it, and others take an interest through other student development specializations.


Enter the book.


We came together as colleagues through a shared interest in DS as part of the New England affiliate of AHEAD. It didn’t take long to learn that we came from very different backgrounds, with very different academic and professional training. One thing we had in common was that our most effective training tool was networking.

The idea quickly followed that one comprehensive resource that could provide consistent training was desperately needed. Years later, we are incredibly proud to present Disability Services in Higher Education: An Insider’s Guide for this very purpose.

What sets this work apart is that it is designed to be a practical guide. In addition to providing foundational information and skills for disability service providers, the supplemental job aids are intended to directly shape your practice. On the resources page, you will find downloadable forms, policies, processes, sample training agendas, and so on, that are available, free of charge, for your immediate use. We hope these prove to be useful and inspiring to your work in supporting students with disabilities!


Disability Services in Higher Education: An Insider's Guide is available now on Temple University Press


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