Students Supported through Disability Services

Maudie Smith

Through Disability Services, part of the Center for Academic Success (CAS), Bethel College provides academic assistance for students who have disabilities which impact their academics. Currently, about 100 students receive assistance to help them succeed in their academic studies.

The CAS wants to be sure that everyone is getting a fair academic experience, and equal access to tools that will help them succeed.

“It is a great program and I am so thankful that Bethel is so accommodating to the students with learning disabilities” says senior nursing major Grace McCarthey, who uses the CAS.

“Receiving disability services is much like getting glasses,” says Rachel Kennedy ‘91, director of for the Center for Academic Success. “I might be a fantastic driver, but if I don’t wear my glasses, I’m less likely to be a safe, successful driver because my poor vision would impair my ability to see, assimilate information, and respond accordingly. This metaphor is relatable to disability services.”

To receive assistance, students need to have documentation that says they would benefit from academic assistance (therapist/doctor’s note). The CAS also accepts documentation form high school. If they cannot provide this documentation, they will be directed to the Wellness Center, where they will be evaluated by one of the professionals, who will determine if a disability is present. When students are in the process of being tested for a disability, they may receive temporary use of the CAS.

Kennedy explains that accommodations may include things like receiving 50 percent extra time on tests in a distraction-reduced environment, copies of a classmates’ notes, audiobooks (while still paying for physical books), or the opportunity to audio record lectures if they have a hard time understanding the material in the classroom and need to hear it for a deeper grasp of the subject.

“All students receive [these things] depending on their disability,” Kennedy says.

The CAS wants to be sure that everyone is getting a fair academic experience, and equal access to tools that will help them succeed.

“Students with disabilities at Bethel are often some of our higher-performing students, as they are frequently very intelligent and capable, but just in need of a level playing field to demonstrate their competence,” says Kennedy.

Sophomore Keenen Boyce, who uses the CAS to help manage Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), highly recommends utilizing disability services.

"From day one of me meeting them I have felt nothing but love and support each and every time I have interacted with them. I am always greeted with a pleasant smile and a welcoming attitude. That goes a long way in college, and for me, it has had a super huge impact not only on my studies but my life as well," he says.

In addition to the CAS, faculty support plays an important role in helping students succeed.

According to sophomore Kimberly Kennedy, professors have made all the difference in making college work, despite needing accommodations due to a traumatic brain injury.

“Every professor I have ever had has been so understanding; I have had professors check in on me to make sure I am okay, and most have prayed with me, too. Even my choir director last year was particularly accommodating, and he went above and beyond to make sure that my needs were being met,” she says.

In addition to Disability Services, the CAS offers tutoring, academic coaching and stress-relieving activities to help students succeed.

Learn more about the Center for Academic Success.

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