Identity of a Disability Office: Compassion, Collaboration and Communication

Disability Support Services (DSS) is a new office at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). We began our journey in the fall of 2015 and have been moving full steam ahead ever since.

Have there been bumps in the road? Yes! Have there been victories? Yes! This has been a great learning experience for all of us.

Here is a snap shot of the key elements that have helped move us forward.

1) Earn the respect and trust of students. Students who register for services may be nervous and quite anxious about who is receiving their confidential information. It has been our goal to work on effective intake procedures, counseling and various modes of communication to engage students. Our “Open Door” policy and welcoming environment has alleviated stressors and enabled students to feel comfortable interacting with our office.

2) Open lines of communication with the faculty. We invite professors to our office all of the time so they can tour our testing area and ask us questions about exam/quiz delivery or anything else they may be concerned with. Cultivating a sound relationship with faculty members is a very important piece of our puzzle so we must ensure they understand our process.

3) Campus Partners. Creating relationships with our campus partners has been exciting! The support we have received has been fantastic. With everything from referring students to our counseling center, securing single rooms in the residence halls, and advocating for safe food preparation in the dining hall to avoid cross contamination for students with food allergies has been crucial to our commitment of providing prompt delivery of services for students.
Campus Partner

4) Self- Care. As with other student affairs professionals, we wear many hats on a daily basis. We console, advocate, investigate, provide crisis intervention, and work late hours. At times we forget to slow down, relax and take inventory of our own well-being which is so important.

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation” - Audrey Lorde

In this short period of time, there has been substantial and consistent progress with educating our campus community about our services and how the Americans with Disabilities Act provides the framework for inclusion and an equal opportunity for success. Lastly, we have learned that each day challenges us to be innovative and thoughtful in our approach in working with students, faculty and staff. #InclusionWorks