The Banacos Academic Center provides a welcoming environment for students who want assistance with academic support and disability-related matters. We aim to foster independence in students through providing guidance on developing a clear understanding of their needs, rights, responsibilities and capabilities as well as guiding students on how to use the academic supports available at our Center and throughout campus. These goals help students to maximize independent learning and build healthy identities.
The Banacos Academic Center aspires to provide students with access to comprehensive well-rounded academic support, state of the art accessible technology and instructional materials, continuity of services and access throughout campus, and sufficient staffing and services to provide comprehensive individualized assistance.
The Banacos Academic Center staff continually works to maintain the community’s respect and recognition of its programs and participating students as integral to the campus and the diversity on campus and to educate the community on matters regarding access to the educational environment including the benefits of universal design in and out of the classroom and the growing necessity to consider accessibility in policy decisions for the Westfield State University community.
All of our objectives and goals are aligned with providing support for all students’ success and encourage student engagement most specifically with their academics. The number of students we serve in our disability support programs has rose dramatically over the past decade along with increased expectations in the provision of reasonable accommodations have been made clear by the Office of Civil Rights and the Justice Department. Currently, we have 999 students who have identified to our office as having a disability.
Below are our objectives and goals to meet the University’s commitment to student success and engagement:
- Provide both group and individual academic strategies assistance to students enrolled at the University.
- Diversify ways in which students receive academic strategies advice and instruction.
- Provide comprehensive services and effective academic support to Learning Disabilities Program students to enhance student academic success, retention and graduation rates.
- Provide support for students with disabilities to obtain reasonable accommodations and referrals to support on campus in addition to encouraging self-advocacy.
- Fully fund the ADA budget to address the accommodation and access needs of the university’s students with disabilities.
- Increase staffing to provide thorough support to students which include the following:
- Access Support Coordinator
- Additional Access Advisor position
- Administrative Assistant or Clerk
- Create a position within CIT funded by the ADA fund to ensure accessibility of course instructional materials and platforms that require specialized technological knowledge and experience including ensuring captioning of videos, accessibility of PLATO courses and other related materials and platforms overseen by CIT.
- Bring current salaries of employees to more competitive rate.
- Reimplement funding for professional development to learn about current best practices and how to address current student trends.
- Convert space in the Banacos Academic Center to create more private office space for additional staff to better serve students.
- Purchase and maintain a disability services specific data management program to better secure student data and create more efficiencies in communication regarding accommodations and supporting documentation.
- Maintain current software licenses for assistive technology and purchase and maintain note taking software licenses.
- Strengthen education efforts, in coordination with Academic Affairs, the Compliance Officer, Human Resources and the JEDI staff, and other offices on campus, for all constituents on campus about issues concerning disabilities with a focus on providing accessible electronic communications campus wide, through updating the faculty and staff manual, visiting academic and professional staff at departmental meetings, bringing speakers or programming to campus, and making regular updates to webpages and social media.
- Develop effective protocol for informing entire campus of elevator outages.
- Update website content for more comprehensive resources for the campus and community at large.