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Letter to the Editor | 'Disabilities' in SDS is problematic

Dear President Crawford and the Miami University Community,

I am writing to you with a concern that impacts a wide variety of students here at Miami

University. As you likely know, Miami University has a variety of services available to students who need additional services, such as an interpreter, quiet space for exams and wheelchair assistance, to name a few. These services are offered by Student Disability Services (SDS).

While I am very appreciative of SDS, in fact, I receive services from them, I am concerned by the name of the organization. The word disability has a negative connotation and people who are registered with the SDS are seen by many, as disabled. Every time a student registers, a letter is sent to one's professors from "Student Disability Services." There is a stigma associated with walking into the SDS office or the Rinella Learning center based on the title.

I am not saying Miami University needs to get rid of the Student Disability Services by far, but I am concerned with the title and the negativity that comes with it. I think Miami University needs to change the title to something else that is on the more positive side. I would suggest changing it to Student Accessibility Services, or something similar. I believe this will send a more positive message to students but also a message to students who are on crutches or in wheelchairs that there is a service on campus that will help assist them with their needs.

I would like to note a few universities and the title of their department that help students access the help they need to succeed in their college careers. Kent State University located in Kent, Ohio and Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio both call their department Student Accessibility Services, along with Clemson University located in Clemson, South Carolina and William and Mary located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Illinois State University, located in Normal, Illinois calls their department Student Access and Accommodation Services while Bowling Green State University, located in Bowling Green, Ohio, calls it Accessibility Services.

These are just a few school that I looked up and seen what they called their department who assist students with accommodations that will help in the student's college career.

I would like to see what we, as the Miami University community, can do to change the title of the department to a more positive one. I would like to even ask students registered and not registered with the department and see how they feel and think about the title, along with professor, advisors and other members of the Miami University community. I believe that students, professors, advisors and other staff members should be asked to vote or come up with a title that best fits the department and the one with the most votes would become the new title. I would like to hear what the university board has to say about the current title and for them to start the process of changing the title to a more positive one.

Haillie A. Erhardt