Doris Stusiak, NSU Director of Disability Services. Photo credit: Bethany Latterell.
Do you have a disability or medical condition that makes college more challenging? The Northern State University Office of Disability Services (ODS), located in Student Center 240, offers a free, vital service to the students of NSU.
Its mission is to provide equal access to university programs, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The ODS coordinates academic support services, advocates for students with disabilities and promotes student development and self-advocacy while serving as a resource on disability awareness and accommodations.
“Students with disabilities should take advantage of all available resources on campus in order to make the most of their college education,” says Doris Stusiak, who has served as Director of Disability Services at Northern since 2012. She very much enjoys working with students and helping them succeed.
Some students may be reluctant to seek assistance or may be struggling with a temporary setback, such as depression or other medical conditions, that may qualify them to receive assistance.
Last year, the ODS served 162 students, although Stusiak believes there are many more who could benefit from their services. Some students may be reluctant to seek assistance or may be struggling with a temporary setback, such as depression or other medical conditions, that may qualify them to receive assistance.
“I think students should participate in any type of support service that is out there,” says Stusiak. “For students with disabilities, we can help level the playing field. They should also be taking advantage of the reading, writing, and math centers, tutoring, and all the other academic support services.”
Director Stusiak is involved with other organizations as well. She is the chairperson of the Aberdeen Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, and she is also a member of the Advisory Boards for the South Dakota Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
“The networking that happens and the information gained as a result of these memberships makes it possible for me to be a better and more knowledgeable advocate for my students and my program,” Stusiak says.
Staff from the ODS do presentations on disability awareness in classes, residence halls or wherever requested. They will also be doing a poster campaign in October in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Students who take part in these events learn about different types of disabilities and, at some events, get a chance to experience them as well. They also learn how the ODS helps students with disabilities.
Students who have disabilities or suspect that they might have a disability can call or stop by the Office of Disability Services to make an appointment with Doris Stusiak, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. She can also be reached at 626-2371.