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05-04-2015

Clarkson University Creates Regional Consortium of Higher Education Disabilities Service Providers

A new regional consortium of the New York State Disabilities Service Council (NYSDSC) was formed in April at Clarkson University.

Loren NowakDirectors and assistant directors of accommodative services from colleges and universities in the North Country region, along with representatives from St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Educational Services (BOCES) and New York State Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR), gathered to form the consortium.

Loren Nowak, interim director of the Office of Accommodative Services at Clarkson, spearheaded the initiative. Nowak’s vision is for Clarkson to assist in the development of this structure to share best practices, resources and to collaboration among disabilities services professionals as they work to serve academic needs from Watertown to Plattsburgh as well as throughout the Adirondack region.

This consortium has already begun collaboration on assisting regional high school students with disabilities in the transition to higher education, as well as sharing best practices in the support of current students with autism, executive function difficulties, and other disabilities in attaining their goals of completing their degrees.

Although campuses in northern New York vary in size and include both public and private institutions, they all share common interests and concerns in the provision of accommodations to students with disabilities to ensure they receive equal access to university resources and programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Higher education disabilities services providers must each remain current on requirements and changes to accommodative practices as they continue to be redefined by case law and settlement determinations released from both the federal Department of Justice and the Office of Civil Rights.

The New York State Disability Services Council is an independent, professional organization of individuals who have responsibility for the provision of disability services to students in New York State in degree-granting institutions of higher education.  Two conferences are held each year.  Additionally, the NYSDSC is a state affiliate of the national Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

James Pittman, executive director of health and counseling at Clarkson, welcomed the group to Clarkson’s campus and underscored the value of the initiative.

"Clarkson firmly stands behind this effort and is glad to be able to help the local efforts of the Disability Service Council to meet the needs of college students with disabilities in our region," Pittman said.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Loren Nowak, interim director of the Office of Accommodative Services at Clarkson University, spearheaded the initiative to form a new regional consortium of the New York State Disabilities Service Council (NYSDSC).

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/lnowak.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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