July 26 marks the 30th anniversary of President George H. W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. We asked Mary Nguyen, director of CSULB’s Bob Murphy Access Center (BMAC), about the center and the ADA’s significance. Murphy (pictured right) is a longtime CSULB donor and advocate for disabled students.
Question: What makes this day so important?
Answer: We celebrate the many ways in which the ADA has transformed American society and enabled a generation of Americans with disabilities to thrive. At the same time, we recognize that too many barriers to equal opportunity remain. We celebrate the ADA anniversary each year along with the reminder to recommit to our work of making the promise of the ADA a reality, enabling all Americans with disabilities to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential.
Q: In what ways has the Beach community benefited from the ADA?
A: Before the ADA’s passage, individuals with disabilities had to fight stigma and prove their need for access, for example, showing that a person with a wheelchair needed to access a restroom or building that had only stair access. Today, our Beach community sees disability as a part of diversity, and we continue to have conversations about how to promote disability access within our daily lives.
Our Beach community now has hundreds of individuals who have grown up with the benefits of the ADA and have moved past looking only at the physical access needs of individuals with disabilities and work to provide accessible experiences in the areas of academic, physical, technological, and daily living so that there is the equal opportunity for all to engage in major life activities.
Q: What services does BMAC provide students?
A: The Bob Murphy Access Center provides accommodations and academic adjustments to more than 1,700 students with disabilities on campus. Within our center, we have the following programs that support students:
- Louise Shakarian Educational Support Services program – facilitates the implementation of exam accommodations as well as note-taking, accessible parking, and furniture accommodations.
- Stephen Benson Learning Disability Program (SBP) – supports the Special Admissions process for the University, provides assistive technology training as well as writing support, provides ADHD/learning disability referrals, and learning disability assessments on a case-by-case basis as determined by eligibility and financial need.
- Learning Independence for Empowerment (LIFE) Project – provides peer coaching and engagement opportunities for students with autism or other social-communicative disabilities to participate in, with the goal to provide job readiness and job placement through collaboration with the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and the Career Development Center’s Workability IV (WAIV) program.
- Case Management – provides students with case management in meeting their basic needs, as well as community referrals in support of students who are looking to register with BMAC.
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Support Services – provides students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing with Sign Language interpreters, Real-Time Captioners, and other supports in pursuit of access to communication.
- Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Center – the AIM Center is a technology and accessibility resource lab that provides students with alternative media and assistive technology support accommodations, as well as an open access computer lab for students. In addition, the AIM Faculty Center provides one-on-one trainings, BeachBoard modular trainings, accessibility resources, and group demonstrations for Beach faculty who wish to develop their knowledge and skills in the use of assistive technology and accessible digital content.
Q: How has BMAC adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: BMAC has pivoted from in-person services to provide virtual accommodations and services to CSULB students. Some of these accommodations and services include: Zoom appointments that provide individualized virtual accommodations to students, disability management counseling via Zoom/phone to students, Zoom exam proctoring, and the implementation of note-taking technology. BMAC is also supporting students who have COVID-19 related accommodation needs.
Q: How has the center evolved since its inception?
A: Formerly known as Disabled Student Services, BMAC focuses on looking at disability through the lens of social justice as well as our collaboration with the university to remove barriers and ensure that disability is a part of impactful discussions regarding diversity, inclusion and access. BMAC’s name change highlights this commitment to the Beach and our work toward increasing awareness of Universal Design for Learning. Today, BMAC celebrates the more than 11,400 students who have graduated from CSULB with support from the center.