A name change to reflect a commitment to accessibility

September 10, 2019

TU's Accessibility & Disability Services (ADS) is the new, more accurate name for the former Disability Support Services.

DSS students at TU

To better reflect the award-winning service it provides to more than 2,000 Towson University students, the Office of Disability Support Services has changed its name.

Starting last week, DSS became ADS — or Accessibility & Disability Services.

The change aligns with TU's priority to provide an inclusive campus. To do so, ADS will continue to provide the proactive solutions that students need and came to appreciate under the prior name.

"We wanted to promote the accessibility part – it’s a campus wide mission to ensure that our campus is accessible to anybody," director Susan Willemin said of the change.

Part of accessibility concerns for TU students revolves around physical access — ensuring that the campus itself is traversable to those with mobility limitations. Other accessibility needs revolve around technology, Willemin said.

"If a student is having difficulty in terms of mental health, learning issues and medical issues and it is impacting their academics, to be successful at TU, and they think the impact will be there for a bit, they can register with our office for accommodations to be put in place to help them be more successful," she said.

Nearly 10 percent of TU students partake in services from the office — the largest percentage of them are freshmen. And for the second year in a row, the office served a larger volume of students with mental disability than it did those with a physical disability.

The most common accommodation provided by the office surrounds the administration of tests.

"I’ve been at this job for 20 years," Willemin said. "We have probably the nicest group of people in our office. They’re wonderful, helping professionals and they care about students. The success we’ve had in helping our students is extraordinary."

Beyond the name change, ADS has moved from within Student Affairs to the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity — yet another move with inclusion as the focal point.

"We want everybody to feel included," Willemin said.

In addition, ADS is excited about an event this fall.  West Village Commons will host a presentation around inclusion featuring Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School on Oct. 23.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Diverse and Inclusive Campus.