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TC Creates The Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Richard Keller has been appointed Director of Teachers College's new office, the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID), which combines accommodation services for employees and students with disabilities.

The office provides a broad range of services that are available to meet individuals' academic and employment needs. Some of the most requested services are readers, tutors, note takers, sign language interpreters, and adaptive technology.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to expand my responsibilities," commented Keller. "I feel honored that I am able to serve other employees such as staff and faculty with disabilities."

Keller, who was previously the Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, feels fortunate to watch the growth in the number of students with disabilities at TC. He was an advocate in the disabilities rights movement ten years prior to his coming to TC and continues to be active in the movement.

When he started, there were about 43 students with disabilities and now there are 250 students with disabilities, noted Keller. Not only has the number of students increased, but the range of support services available to students in meeting their educational goals has increased under his direction as well.The Office of Personnel very proficiently served employees with disabilities before the creation of OASID, said Keller.

"However, the now centralized voice of people with disabilities can contribute to the tapestry of diversity that President Levine is focusing on," Keller continued. "It is the perfect opportunity to bring the issue of disability to one area of the college."

"The OASID brings disabled people together to address issues and concerns with a unified voice," he said.

Individuals who are protected under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are eligible for the program, said Keller. The ADA includes but isn't limited to people that are blind, deaf, with physical disabilities, with learning disabilities, with contagious and not-contagious diseases, and with psychological disabilities For any questions about eligibility, please contact Keller at OASID.

He urges employees or students with disabilities to talk to him to register or to discuss any barriers to equal participation at TC. Registration is available at any time, and students are encouraged to review service requirements with the Director at the beginning of each semester.

Also in the office are Deborah Swamback, Coordinator of Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People; Joshua Lachs, Doctoral Intern; and two graduate assistants, Carly Flanigan and Hanna Stern.

"Swamback is a real asset to the College with her specific knowledge of deafness and deaf culture," said Keller.

To receive more detailed information about the programs and services available at Teachers College, a map of the campus showing special features and access routes, or to arrange for an appointment, contact OASID at x3689 or by e-mail at rmk21@columbia.edu.

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