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It was the early 2000s. A student with

cerebral palsy was attending IU Southeast

in hopes of graduating with a bachelor’s

degree. After applying to the school of

her choice, she was denied admission to

the program not because of her disability, but

because some professors at that time lacked an

understanding of her disability. Although she met

the qualifications to complete the program, the

extent of her physical disabilities led to questions

about her physical stamina and ability to succeed

in the field.

One professor realized the high level of potential

the student possessed due to her exceptional

academic work. After making her abilities known,

the student was accepted into the program, later

graduated, and then went on to advocate for

students with disabilities for the state.

Awareness begets change. Although attitudes

toward individuals with disabilities are changing

due to heightened awareness and improved

education, there is still work to be done. Matt

Springer, Disability Services Coordinator at IU

Southeast, notes the vast amount of change IU

Southeast has seen over the years. When he first

took over his duties in 2009, he noticed that the

main accommodation made for almost every

student with a disability was extended test time.

Matt explained, “Extended test time makes sense

for someone with a learning disability; however

someone with a hearing impairment does not need

extended time on a written test. I think they often

did it because they didn’t know what else to do.”

Matt went on to describe the treatment of students

with disabilities at the time as homogeneous, and

he, along with other staff and faculty, were starting

to realize the need to recognize each student’s







By Mercedes Eckert, Kristy Fennessey and Whitney Leezer,

W364 and W395 students