The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) began long before it was passed and signed at the White House in 1990.
Nina Slota, Assistant Professor of Psychology, recalls the time before the ADA came into existence.
When Slota attended high school and college prior to the ADA, her illnesses were off the record. Teachers, friends, and classmates had no idea what she was dealing with. Slota did not think this was a big deal, because she was not disabled, but sick.
At the time, health impairments were seen as invisible, but that all changed after the ADA. Now, the American with Disabilities Act has affected schools and universities across the US.
With respect to an individual, the term disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or majorly bodily functions,” as stated on the ada.gov website.
In terms of applying this definition to students, Doris Stusiak, Disability Services Director at Northern State, is in charge of ensuring that all students have access to necessary services.
Students often need different services or accommodations depending on their disability. Stusiak works with students with temporary and permanent disabilities in order to ensure that they receive an equal and quality learning experience that helps them reach their full potential.
Altogether, Stusiak notes that she works more with students with permanent disabilities as they often require more guidance or assistance.
Stusiak deals with varying areas such as service animals, athletics, dining services, housing, campus activities, work study, student labor job, facilities and grounds, technology, and the ESA to ensure that all the services the students need are available to them.
While Stusiak helps provide an insurmountable amount of services to students, faculty can play a major role as well. From an administrative point of view, faculty must understand that multiple disabilities are either hidden or invisible.
If faculty have any questions about a student potentially having a disability, they are to contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and only accommodate what the ODS approves. Stusiak states, a general rule of thumb to faculty is: “If you wouldn’t do something for a student without a disability, you shouldn’t do it for a student with a disability.”
If you have any questions about disabilities services, contact Doris Stusiak in the Office of Disability Services in the Student Center, or at 626-2371.