Disability Support Program and Services (DSPS) at Delta College aims to help disabled students receive appropriate accommodations to ensure they have an equal chance of achieving educational success.
“DSPS is here to even out the playing field,” Mobility Specialist Roy Juarez said.
DSPS helps students with a range of disabilities: from those who are hard of hearing, to those who are blind, to those who are physically impaired.
The Mobility and Health Unit, which Juarez oversees, focuses on helping those who are physically impaired have an easier time getting around campus.
In the Mobility and Health Center, physically impaired students can check out scooters or request a student aide to guide them to and from classes.
A few of the other key services provided by DSPS include accommodated testing, interpreting and captioning, note-taking and specialized counseling.
“We’re not asking the teacher to give you more time on an assignment or make your assignments easier, we’re asking that they give you an accommodation so you could succeed just like anybody else,” Juarez said.
Juarez has seen the Mobility and Health Unit go through several changes since first joining DSPS 14 years ago.
In 2009, the Mobility and Health Unit was cut since it was not mandated by law and the school did not have funds. It was brought back three months later after board members recognized its importance.
During those three months, Juarez called other community colleges in the area and asked what services their Mobility and Health Units offered.
He found that none of the 13 colleges he made contact with even had a Mobility and Health Unit.
Because of this, Juarez believes Delta is “one of a kind.”
While the Mobility and Health Unit is still active, it’s not as large as it once was.
“Right now, I’m the only EMT,” Juarez said. “In 2009, we had two EMTs and a whole team of substitutes so if I called in sick, we had a number of firefighters who were EMTs that we could call and ask to cover the shift.”
Now, if Juarez is unable to work, the Mobility and Health Unit shuts down and if students need assistance, campus police are notified.
Being the only EMT, Juarez could use a few helping hands. He typically hires 10 students a semester to act as aides.
Aside from guiding blind students to and from classes, members of his staff also take notes for those who are unable to, walk physically impaired students through exercises during PE and file reports.
Third-year student Christina Torrez has been working as an aide for the Mobility and Health Unit since August 2016.
Torrez took the job without knowing much about what it entailed, but immediately became fond of it.
“I feel like the most grateful people I’ve met, I’ve met working here,” Torrez said.
She has formed many friendships with the students she’s assisted.
“We tell each other our life stories,” Torrez said. “It’s nice getting to know more about who they are.”
She feels her experience working with the disabled has made her more aware of the struggles they face. She tries to look for ways to make their lives just a bit easier.
“Anywhere I go, I won’t take the elevator,” she said. “If I see somebody in a wheelchair, I’ll open the door for them.”
Third-year student Luis Garcia, who works alongside Torrez, said his favorite part about the job is “the character it builds.”
He takes pride in knowing his contributions are benefiting students in need.
According to Garcia, DSPS is an integral part of campus and should be given more awareness.
“It really has a huge impact on these individuals’ lives,” he said.