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Expert Insights: Administrator Shares Secret Weapon for College Students with Disabilities

Chantonette Lyles urges college students with disabilities to be proactive and take the initiative to request the services and accommodations they need

Chantonette Lyles is an Associate Director in the Office of Accessibility Services and Resources at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The office works in partnership with administrators, faculty, and staff to provide reasonable accommodations and support services for students with disabilities. Chantonette approves classroom and campus accommodations for 555 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students ranging from alternate format materials and adaptive equipment to testing accommodations and note-taking assistance.

College Students Need Accessible Books on Day One

When students contact her for materials in alternate formats, the first place Chantonette looks is in Bookshare. The university has a Bookshare organizational account that provides free memberships to students with reading barriers including dyslexia, visual impairments, or cerebral palsy. “The students love Bookshare! It has been a wonderful tool for them.”

Chantonette says that students request digital books in a range of subjects including psychology, computer science, and engineering that they read on computers and tablets. “Bookshare has helped our students to be engaged with their classes immediately,” she explains. “They don’t have to wait for any books and risk falling behind with assignments.”

Ask for the Resources You Need

Chantonette has some important advice for students with disabilities who are attending college. “Students need to understand the differences between high school and college in terms of accommodations. In college, students must contact the accessibility office on their respective campuses to request accommodations. The staff won’t know if a student needs accommodations unless contact is made via the student. Also, their medical documentation must be current, and it’s extremely important that they follow up with the accessibility staff and professors to discuss accommodations and implementation.”

“Bookshare is a great resource. Although I’m not a teacher, I work in higher education and provide accommodations for students that have disabilities. I highly recommend @Bookshare!” – Chantonette Lyles

As Chantonette mentioned, learning how to self-advocate is critical to success in college and beyond. Bookshare is one resource that students with disabilities should take with them to college. And remember, Bookshare’s free membership continues as long as the individual is a student – in college and beyond.

Learn more about Bookshare’s resources for students transitioning to post-secondary education, vocational programs, or life after school

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