ACCESS Center working to help students succeed, no matter the disability

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ACCESS Center working to help students succeed, no matter the disability

Rachel Mergen, Multimedia Editor

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The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s ACCESS Center is an opportunity for students with diagnosed disabilities to get the accommodations they need to succeed.

The staff at the center works with students directly to connect them with opportunities that fit their personal needs, based specifically on their case and what they identify as their disability-related challenges. The center works with students with any type of diagnosed disability.

“The benefit of working with our office is that academic accommodations may not be something that you need all the time, but you may need it at some point in your academic career,” Director of the ACCESS Center Andrew Oliver explained. “Working with our office to get registered and to have those academic accommodations in place ahead of time is the best option so that when you need them, you can access them right away.”

Accommodations that registered students are recommended are not always simply academic, as the ACCESS Center will also work with other UWL departments, such as Residence Life, to connect students with what will help them while they face the difficulties that come along with their disabilities.

Oliver stated, “Our accommodations are based individually on each person’s disability and the functional limitations that are happening because of that disability.” Common accommodations that students are connected with include testing options, like extended time to complete the tests, testing rooms for providing a less pressured environment and alternative formatting; classroom recordings; braille options; service animals; and many other options that students may not even expect when they first register.

To connect with the center, all that students need is a diagnosed disability, followed by their health care provider filling out the official documentation that is requested by the ACCESS Center. The documentation can be submitted immediately after the student answers the original registration questions, which are found on the ACCESS Center’s website and take about five minutes to complete, or later on when the paperwork is completed.

Following the completion of the initial questions and the filing of the disability documentation, students will be assigned an adviser, who will discuss with them the information found on their documents to determine what accommodations fit their needs best. A plan will then be created, and professors will be contacted with what plan has been decided upon. The ACCESS Center will not inform the professors of what disability the student is diagnosed with, as the sharing of such information is the personal decision of the student.

For students who have a disability, but aren’t sure if they should file with the ACCESS Center or not, Oliver said, “I think that there are always ways that we can work with you to help with your disability. I think that a lot of times students get stuck up on the idea that they need something, not necessarily knowing what it is, or maybe they get the idea that they need a specific accommodation, but really it’s an accommodation that’s not really addressing the real need they have. Sitting down and working with our advisers to come up with a plan on how we can address the real issue and get a plan in place to help them is huge.”

To learn more about the ACCESS Center, visit To register with a diagnosed disability click the blue button saying ACCESS Connect, which will lead students to the starting questions and information on the next steps of the process. Necessary paperwork can be found under Disability Documentation, with different documents for each category of disabilities.

The ACCESS Center may also be contacted at 608.785.6900 or [email protected]. The center is located at 165 Murphy Library and is open from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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