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A is for Accessible: a profile on Cabrillo’s Accessibility Support Center

Sweaty palms, heart racing, panic: these are all common symptoms for students about to take a test. Many students wish they had more time on exams.

More test time is one accomodation that Cabrillo’s Accessibility Support Center (ASC) makes for eligible students. The ASC offers a number of services for students with disabilities, including test proctoring, alternate media and assistive technology, counseling, notetakers, equipment loans and tutoring.

Roughly 1400 students come through the ASC every semester. The largest group of students is those with learning disabilities.
At the ASC, there are 10 people on staff. There are three Learning Disability Specialists (LDS), three counselors, an alternate media technician, a technology media specialist, the program director and the program coordinator. Nikki Oneto is the Program Coordinator.
Seeing students’ progress makes her job worthwhile. “It’s a very fulfilling position,” said Oneto.

Oneto was first employed at the center in 1977 as the Supportive Services Clerk. As a Cabrillo student, she worked nights at the center.
Oneto didn’t have prior experience working with students with disabilities. “It’s something you just learned, learned on the job,” she said.

The program started in 1973 as the “Handicap Services.” It was established as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)/Rehabilitation Act. Many students coming back from the Vietnam War with head injuries or as amputees could use these services.
The program became known as the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS). Today, the ASC is its official title.

“It was a collaborative effort of name changing,” said Oneto. The ASC asked students for ideas on names for the center, and because the program was meant to be accessible for all students, they suggested a more inclusive name.

The Adaptive Physical Education program and the Stroke and Disability Learning Center are also funded by the ASC. Program Director Beth McKinnon first worked at the stroke center and then became part of the ASC staff. McKinnon is a strong advocate for disability awareness in all students.

“I think that [it]l helps students across the board get a better educational experience,” McKinnon said.

The ASC is located on the floor above the library. Students can make a referral for other students if they see them struggling academically. The ASC is a confidential service and students can speak as much or as little as they want about their services.

Students can contact the ASC to make an appointment. If a student has a verified disability from a medical doctor or his/her k-12 educational system, he/she is automatically eligible. Otherwise, the student will meet with a counselor or learning disability specialist to determine his/her eligibility.

“If a mental health issue gets in the way of them being successful, that qualifies them for services,” said McKinnon.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact Nikki Oneto at 831-479-6379 or Terri Owen, ASC Program Specialist, at 831-479-6370.