The Division of Student Life fosters student success by creating and promoting inclusive educationally purposeful services and activities within and beyond the classroom. The departmental program review process empowers departments within the Division of Student Life to critically evaluate their work and their effect on the UI student experience through a lens of continuous improvement. As a unit of the Division of Student Life, Student Disability Services (SDS) engaged in a program review process in 2019. SDS completed a comprehensive self-study and hosted three external reviewers for a multi-day campus visit. The review suggested improvements in the following six areas. The overall mission and scope of SDS, the SDS office location, training and professional development for SDS professional staff, training for faculty and staff, documentation and accommodation processes, and overall staffing levels, responsibilities, and morale for the office. The external reviewers were Dr. Tiffany Bailey (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dr. Kelli Bradley (The University of Texas at Austin), and Dr. Shirley Stumpner (Indiana University). The internal reviewer was Tiffini Stevenson Earl, the University of Iowa ADA Coordinator.

This action plan was written within the existing staffing structure of SDS. The action plan may be revised based upon additional staffing that has been requested by SDS as part of the University of Iowa budget review process (Spring 2020). The action plan is intended to be a living document based on the current campus environment. Action items and outcomes may change.

Table of contents

Recommendation: Mission and scope of SDS

Update mission statement to be more in line with broader scope and compatible with mission of the university. Increase the number of SDS staff to allow more time for activities related to a broader mission

SDS students are seeking more active involvement on the part of the office and the staff regarding a broad array of issues affecting students with disabilities on our campus.

Critical tasks

  • Update the SDS mission and vision to be more in line with a broader scope and the mission of the university
  • Develop business case for additional staff hires
  • Present request for additional staff through University of Iowa channels
  • Establish SDS as an internship/practicum training site
  • List campus resources on SDS website
  • Create process to assess staffing needs to adequately meet caseloads and student needs
  • Update Job Descriptions following new hire changes
  • Revise Report a Concern page to create common language around formal and informal concerns
  • Establish formal Appeal process
  • Generate Annual Report to share scope of SDS with campus community

Success measures and updates

  • Updated mission and vision statements (completed Spring 2020)
  • Present business case for additional staff hires (completed Spring 2020)
  • Updated SDS job descriptions (completed Spring 2020)
  • Established SDS as an internship/practicum site for graduate students (completed Spring 2020)
  • List of campus resources to support student success included on SDS website (completed Spring 2020; edited Fall 2020)
  • A strong collaboration with disability services staff in UH&D, the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, and Law, along with the university ADA coordinator to ensure consistency with the provision of accommodations (ongoing)
  • Fully staffed office that meets the current SDS student needs and mission and vision (completed Fall 2020; short on staff member beginning Spring 2021)
  • Fully operational and integrated caseload management system (Phase 1 launch Fall 2021)
  • Regular meetings with UI student and campus partner groups to discuss accessibility issues (ongoing)
  • Establish SDS Student Advisory Group (completed Fall 2020)
  • Revised instructions for how to report a concern or file a complaint through SDS website (completed Fall 2020; Undergoing second round of editing Fall 2021)
  • Partner with Contracts and Assignments staff in UH&D to be part of their disability determinations (in process summer 2021)

Recommendation: new office location for SDS

Location for SDS should reflect accessibility and visibility to best serve the needs of University of Iowa students.

Critical tasks

  • Gather student input regarding SDS move
  • Relocate SDS to a temporary location
  • Assist in planning process for permanent location
  • Begin planning process for a permanent location
  • Assess current location to ensure student needs in space are met & to assist in planning for permanent location

Success measures and updates

  • Conducted survey and town hall meeting to gather student input (completed Spring 2020)
  • Parameters determined for temporary location (completed Spring 2020)
  • Space identified in Old Capitol Mall has been identified and lease has been signed (completed Spring 2020)
  • Conduct design meetings for temporary space (completed Summer 2021)
  • Complete the move into 141 UCC (in process Fall 2021)

Recommendation: professional development opportunities for SDS staff

Professional development opportunities for staff need to be identified and expanded. Each staff member shall create an annual professional development proposal.

Critical tasks

  • SDS staff will submit an annual professional development plan and be encouraged to request appropriate funds related to this training
  • SDS will clarify funding sources for attendance at workshops and programs within the Division of Student Life
  • SDS will provide memberships for all staff in the Association on Higher Education and Disability
  • SDS will provide memberships for all staff in the Iowa and Illinois region of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (ILLOWA AHEAD)
  • SDS will provide the SDS Exam Services Coordinator with a membership in the National College Testing Association

Success measures and updates

  • Annual professional development plans for staff were submitted (completed Summer 2020)
  • SDS staff part of institutional membership in the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) (completed Fall 2019)
  • SDS staff part of institutional membership in ILLOWA AHEAD (completed Fall 2019)
  • SDS Exam Coordinator has membership in NCTA (completed Spring 2020)
  • Staff who regularly participate in professional development opportunities and have access to memberships in professional organizations (in process Summer 2020)
  • SDS has partnered with the Exec Dir, Belonging & Inclusion and Assistant to VPSL and the Division of Student Life as well as the Executive Director, Business, Planning & Technology for the Division of Student Life to identify funds for SDS training and involving travel expenses of a significant nature beyond the SDS operating budget (in process Spring 2020)
  • SDS purchased the resources “Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in Health-Related Education Programs” and “The Guide for Assisting Students with Disabilities: Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education” in an effort to better meet the needs of students in health related studies (completed Spring 2020)
  • SDS staff have created opportunities for staff to share the knowledge/skills gained at professional development opportunities and established a “Virtual Resource Library” on Microsoft Teams to house resources gathered from personal interests and professional development opportunities (completed Spring 2021)

Recommendation: increase training for faculty and staff

Increase training for faculty and staff using a variety of modalities such as videos, ICON modules, in person training, etc.

Critical tasks

  • Add information to webpage to summarize SDS trainings provided
  • Add information to SDS Website to request training and development
  • Develop, foster, and strengthen partnerships and collaboration with departments, administration, and faculty
  • Develop a comprehensive communication plan regarding information provided to faculty

Success measures and updates

  • SDS training and consultation information available on SDS website outlining trainings provided by SDS and how to request a training (completed Summer 2020; updated Summer 2021)
  • SDS Faculty Survey conducted outlining faculty familiarity and comfort with the academic accommodation process (completed Fall 2019)
  • SDS strategic communication plan (in process Spring 2020)
  • Collaboration and partnership meetings with departments, administration, and faculty (in process Summer 2020)
  • Developed a training video outlining the accommodation process (completed Spring 2020)
  • To resolve student and instructor concerns, SDS clarified information available regarding Disability Related Absence and Modification (DRADM) accommodation on the SDS website and developed a form for faculty and students to use in delivering this accommodation (completed Spring 2020)
  • Additional options regarding Class Notes available on website (completed Fall 2019)
  • Establish Faculty Advisory Board to engage key faculty to provide feedback on the areas in which faculty need additional training (established Fall 2020; ongoing process)
  • Partnered with Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology to develop training: “Preparing and Implementing Captions for Student Accommodation Requirements” (completed Spring 2021)
  • Develop a comprehensive communication plan regarding information provided to faculty (in process Spring 2021)

Recommendation: documentation accommodation process, and intake/workflow

Operational processes and workflow need to ensure students receive accurate information about both their SDS application and their approved accommodations. SDS will examine all aspects of the overall workflow for both efficiency and compliance.

Critical tasks

  • Review current processes related to documentation, accommodation processes, and intake-workflow considerations to ensure we are maximizing student’s timely accessing of academic accommodations without increasing barriers to service

Success measures and updates

  • Increased contact time for SDS staff and students during intake appointment to allow a greater opportunity to explain resources to students and respond to any questions (completed Spring 2020)
  • Instituted case management time to allow more timely communication with students and instructors (completed Spring 2020)
  • Updated intake protocols and post intake follow-up emails to provide more consistent messaging and services to students (completed Summer 2020)
  • Initiate caseload staffing meetings to help staff resolve complicated accommodation issues (completed Spring 2020)
  • To resolve student and instructor concerns, SDS clarified information available regarding Disability Related Absence and Modification (DRADM ), developed a form, and created Deadline Modification as a separate accommodation (completed Spring 2020)
  • Revised language of “Intake” to “Initial Meeting” to decrease use of clinical language (completed summer 2020)
  • Edited website and created infographic to better communicate application process for students (completed Spring 2021; update in process Summer 2021)

Recommendation: staffing levels, responsibilities, and morale

SDS will respond to issues related to staffing levels and responsibilities in an effort to improve staff morale.

Critical tasks

  • Complete hiring process for open position
  • Develop business case for additional staff hires
  • Outline optimal caseload ratio based on peer groups and national data

Success measures and updates

  • Staff member hired to fill existing vacancies (completed Spring 2020; Fall 2020, with one current vacancy)
  • Present business case for additional staff hires to Central Administration (completed Spring 2020)
  • Staffing ratio for peer comparison groups established (completed Fall 2019)
  • Updated SDS job descriptions (completed Spring 2020; in process Fall 2021)
  • Caseloads redistributed to reflect hiring for existing vacancy (completed Spring 2020)
  • Outlined optimal caseload ratios based on peer groups and national data (completed Fall 2019)
  • Process in place to regularly assess staffing needs (in process Fall 2021)
  • Staffing ratios will be in line with national standards and peer comparison groups (completed Fall 2020)