Student group aims to increase awareness of SARC

Anna Lawson

The Student Accessibility Resource Center, formerly Student Disability Services, consists of a collection of staff working toward a common goal: to ensure students with disabilities are able to experience and gain a broad college education at WKU.

A new student volunteer group has made it their mission to scour campus and the city to raise awareness about the programs offered through SARC.

The group is called Mastering Accessible Possibilities for Students, or MAPS. 

“It is important to help our students feel like they are also a part of the WKU community and do have a collective voice,” Matthew Davis, coordinator for SARC, said. “The students involved with MAPS currently want to help other students with disabilities to realize that receiving help from SARC is an asset and not something they should shy away from or be apprehensive about during their college career.”  

Davis said MAPS also gives those involved an opportunity to educate students, faculty and staff about disabilities from their own view point.  

Sam Moore, a graduate student from Henderson who is blind, jumped on board with the project in January and was elected vice president of the group. Moore, like others involved with MAPS, wanted to share the benefits SARC brought during his undergraduate years with others.

“There are lots of people out there that don’t know about the programs they offer. It needs to be publicized a little better,” Moore said.

He said he came to WKU in 2006 and was involved with SARC until he graduated. He came back in 2013 for graduate school and became involved again. 

“Every class is different in terms of its demands and requirements, and personnel from the office assist me in adapting and adjusting as necessary in my efforts to fulfill mandatory duties and responsibilities within each course,” Moore said. 

This is Moore’s last semester at WKU, and he credits SARC with many of his accomplishments. Moore said SARC provided guides to unfamiliar locations on campus, provided him with readers for tests and hired tutors for classes which were “extremely visual in nature.”

“They are the reason for a lot of my success at WKU,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been a part of for all these years and it means a lot to do what I can to help.”

Through SARC, students can receive assistance with scheduling for classes and arranging specifications they need for classes such as alternative testing schedules. SARC also helps students build or enhance relationships and communication with their professors. 

SARC also makes sure every student is able to attend classes without barriers. This means making sure that each student can get to class without problems and also have the resources to do well in the class. 

MAPS plans to spread the word about these programs throughout the community as a whole, not limiting their efforts to campus. They hope to equip their intended audience with a better understanding of services provided by SARC. 

“In order to reach out to the WKU community, members of MAPS intend to make appearances in numerous classrooms across campus to spread the word about the organization and its mission,” Moore said. 

He said they also hope to go to area high schools to speak to prospective students about SARC and its mission.

Moore said the group is also assembling flyers and information packets to distribute around campus, and at “Focus on WKU” events held throughout the region.  

“It is hoped that this will also serve as a recruiting tool for new members in our quest to foster growth within the MAPS family,” he said.

The program is still in its youth, but the team already has a strong idea of what they want to accomplish. 

Davis said he hopes MAPS will grow into a student-run organization and his involvement will lessen over the next few years. 

“My hope is to show that students, with a wide range of disabilities, can succeed and have some of the same challenges/successes as most of the student body,” Davis said. “My hope is to help students that do not have a disability learn from those students who live with these challenges every day and collaborate together to spread awareness and focus on abilities and not disabilities.”