By Jenni Goldstein
Student Access Services (SAS) is a program at Hofstra that provides support and accommodations for students on campus with disabilities. The program targets the needs of the individual student to ensure that they are as successful as possible.
For senior public relations major Rachel Gross, who has a condition called Nemaline Rod Myopathy, which is a rare form of muscular dystrophy, SAS has been tremendously helpful throughout her entire college experience.
“SAS is definitely one of the reasons why I chose Hofstra,” Gross said. “Being that I have a physical disability, I needed to make sure that the school I ended up at was going to be able to provide me with the necessary accommodations I need to be a successful student. I have heard stories from friends and acquaintances in which they did not receive adequate accommodations from their schools.”
Gross attended a high school called The Henry Viscardi School in Albertson, New York, a school intended for students with physical disabilities.
“Almost everyone at the school received accommodations, so having accommodations felt normal to me,” Gross said.
College can be difficult for every student, but being a student who also has a disability makes it even harder. Luckily, Hofstra helps students like Gross overcome these challenges. She is very thankful to have chosen a university that cares about the success of all of its students.
“SAS has impacted my education at Hofstra in ways I can never thank them enough for. Having someone who understands your needs and will do everything in their power to make sure you get what you need is helpful beyond words. I honestly don’t know where I would be without them.”
The test scribing program, which Gross said is one of the most important things that SAS provides for her, allows students with disabilities to have a scribe, a reader or a proctor while taking exams. A scribe fills in the answers for the student, a reader reads the questions and a proctor supervises the test.
“Without [the test scribing program], taking exams would be nearly impossible for me. Because of my physical disability, my body tends to tire out faster than other people’s, which makes it hard for me to keep up with everyone else in the class,” Gross explained. “It’s not because I don’t know the material. My body simply can’t work as fast as everyone else’s. With the test scribing program, I’m able to have someone write for me. I am also allowed extra time. This allows me to reserve my energy and use it to concentrate on coming up with the correct answers on my test.”
The Test Scribing staff is made up of Hofstra students. Gross has had no complaints about anyone who has ever scribed for her over the course of three and a half years.
“The quality of students that are hired as scribes are usually people who would go out of their way to help someone,” Gross said.
While SAS is great for students like Gross who have physical disabilities, there are aspects of the program that can be improved upon.
“One thing that [SAS] can improve is providing better testing locations. I am also entitled to a separate location when I take tests. Usually, they assign me to a vacant office. However, most of the offices don’t have adjustable height desks, which I need so I can fit under [them] with my wheelchair. This makes it difficult for me to read the questions on my exam, so my scribe has to hold it up so I can see them,” she said. “I also think it would be beneficial if SAS had some sort of education program to teach people, especially professors, about the rights, laws and protocols pertaining to students with disabilities.”
Another issue that Gross feels is important is in regard to on campus housing.
“There are very limited options when it comes to accessibility in the dorms,” she said. “I have lived in Stuyvesant Hall for three out of my four years here, even though I’m not a freshman. This is because it is the only residence hall that fits my needs.”
Stuyvesant has an elevator and wheelchair accessible rooms.
All in all, Gross feels that Hofstra does extremely well with providing useful options to students on campus with disabilities.
“Since I live on campus, [the school] makes sure that I have an automatic door opener so I can easily come and go as I please without having to ask someone for help,” she exemplified. “Also, since my disability affects my muscles, it is sometimes hard for me to speak. Because of this, Hofstra allows me to take alternative classes in place of my rhetoric requirements.”
SAS has helped, and will continue to help, so many students like Gross on Hofstra’s campus. Gross believes that “The administrators who run [SAS] are people who have a lot of experience dealing with accommodations, and they truly understand what a person may need.”