DRS Vision and Operations
Temple University established formal services for students with disabilities in 1976. Disability Resources and Services (DRS) is the department responsible for ensuring that reasonable accommodations are available for students with disabilities at all campus locations. DRS falls within the Division of Student Affairs and the Director reports to the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
We envision a learning community that values people with diverse abilities and demonstrates through its actions a deep commitment to the full inclusion of all its members.
To advance Temple University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, Disability Resources and Services provides leadership to the university community to ensure that students with a disability have full access to the university experience.
In advancing this mission, DRS:
- Arranges academic adjustments and accommodations as mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Works with the Temple community on creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for students.
- Acts as a liaison with regional groups involved with disability services to cultivate a broad range of resources for students.
A collaborative effort
Supporting students with a disability means supporting the faculty that educate them.
All members of the DRS staff consider themselves to be part of a collaborative effort to fulfill Temple’s educational mission. They stand ready to answer questions, make suggestions, or otherwise assist individual faculty members or groups seeking to provide full access to learning for their students with a disability.
Sometimes, successful resolution of challenges in the classroom requires faculty to move beyond their comfort zone, motivated by the desire to help every student fulfill her/his potential. The staff at DRS is there to support and assist in that process.
DRS will gladly arrange an informational/training session or provide material for orientations in your school or department.
Disability depends on circumstances
Disability is not an independent reality, but an experience that arises in particular contexts. It is best understood as a poor fit between the demands of a given situation and the abilities of an individual to meet those demands. To take a simple example, deafness is not a disability when one is watching a silent movie; it is only when the film has an audio component that the deaf person experiences a disability. The sound conveys information the audience needs in order to make sense of the film; the person who is deaf cannot meet the sensory demands of that auditory mode of communication. To align the communication of information with the abilities of the deaf person, the film must display simultaneous captions for what the hearing audience members perceive with their ears.
In education, as in many other areas, disability arises for one or more of the following reasons:
- Disabling conditions exist simply by convention;
- The demands of the environment conform to the needs and preferences of those who designed it; and/or
- The conditions take into account only the abilities of an “average” student.
In working with faculty and students, the DRS staff tries to encourage the creation of learning environments that respond to the wide variety of abilities, needs, interests, and experiences students bring to the classroom. When a student encounters particular barriers to success or full participation, DRS will help the student and instructor understand what steps they can take to remove those barriers.
In fulfilling its mission, DRS pursues the following goals and values:
- Ensure that students with a disability and their peers without one have equal access to the full university experience. All students are entitled to the same chance to achieve the goals of a Temple education;
- Support non-accommodations-based strategies of inclusion; these potentially benefit all students, including those registered with DRS, those who choose not to disclose a disability, and those who do not have, or may be unaware of, a disability related to their success at Temple;
- Support student development and empowerment: Each student has the choice and the responsibility to disclose his/her disability; DRS will not do so on the student’s behalf.
- Recognize that DRS can’t guarantee student success, but that it can help to ensure that every student has the same shot at success;
- Serve as a bridge between students and faculty; this involves assisting faculty in understanding technologies, strategies, and needs, and trying to eliminate obstacles;
- Celebrate the unique potential of every student, whether they have a disability or not;
- Nurture the collaborative nature of their enterprise: The success of any student served by DRS is the result of a partnership among many parties, including the student, DRS, other student services providers, and faculty members.
- Facilitate students’ seamless transition to higher education -- in its academic, extracurricular, and social dimensions; and from there to employment and citizenship;
- Work at the institutional level to make Temple more inclusive of students with disabilities (e.g., in career services, computer services, distance learning); and
- Create opportunities for students with disabilities by working with outside agencies, organizations, and stakeholders.