The UDS Office is here for you!

Article taken from Ka Lono Hanakahi, December 2002.

The University Disability Services (UDS) office has been growing and expanding its services in the past year. The number of students serviced has increased 28%, with a possible additional 13% increase for students who are in the process of securing eligibility documents. To support the retention of students with disabilities, the UDS offers an annual tuition waiver, which is awarded to a student with a disability and a minimum GPA of 3.5.

One function of the Disability Services Office is to serve as a support system to campus constituents with disabilities. By empowering people, the UDS office is able to implement reasonable changes on campus. For students with disabilities, empowerment is achieved through a bi-weekly newsletter, and an invitation to participate in training offered campuswide. A n - other goal of UDS is to provide consistent, responsive, and quality service, especially to Internet users. UDS has developed a comprehensive, consumer-friendly Web site, and is currently in the process of designing an online process for registration.

The UDS Office is also responsible for ensuring that campus facilities and programs are accessible to everyone. With joint support from the Student Support Services Program, assistive technology software was purchased and installed in computer labs, the Library, and Distraction Free testing rooms.

Education has been a major focus of this office since its inception in 1998. In Fall 2002, new training/seminar options were added to services offered by UDS, including Assistive Technology (AT) training for Nursing 371 (Computers and Health Care), televised training on “Distance Education and ADA Implementation,” Housing Resident Assistant training on “Mental Health Issues and Students with Disabilities,” and seminars for disabled American veterans on accessing on-campus disability services.

UDS also participated in the nationwide movement to recognize October as National Disability Awareness Month by sponsoring the first UH Hilo National Disability Mentoring Day for Big Island high school “504” students.

Collaboration is a theme that UDS believes in. The UDS Office submitted a joint proposal for the 26th annual AHEAD Conference, to be held in Dallas, Texas in 2003.This conference is the most widely respected forum on disability issues in higher education institutions.

The UDS office is also working in partnership with the UH Hilo Women’s Center on a $400,000 grant proposal from the US Department of Justice, Violence Against Women Office. If approved, the grant will be used to develop on-campus resources to help prevent violence against women, including women with disabilities.

This past summer, the UDS office was selected as a site-sponsor for the John Burns School of Medicine, Pacific Basin Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, to address four major disability areas. From this summer project, a partnership was developed with the Center for Independent Living, and a joint proposal will be submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that will address strengthening support systems for persons with disabilities.

Susan Shirachi , Director, University Disabilities Services, and Dr. Rick Castberg, Professor of Political Science, co-authored a grant for native American Tribal Law Conference that was held at UH Hilo this past June. Beginning January 2003, the conference will be televised statewide on local cable stations. The two-day conference provided information on the history of federal Indian law and policy, government-to-government relationships with tribal governments, tribal criminal jurisdiction, and community outreach in Indian Country, to name a few. Funding was provided by the UH Hilo Research Relations Fund, President's Diversity and Equity Initiative and the UH Humanities Fund.