Office for Accessibility Services to see changes, fall 2019

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 at 2:10 PM

On Sept. 19, Edinboro Interim President Dr. Michael J. Hannan sent an email to all employees and students enrolled at EU announcing that changes were coming to the Office for Accessibility Services’s (formerly OSD) attendant care program. 

Beginning with the Fall 2019 semester, the university will no longer directly offer the service to the 36 students enrolled in attendant-care support through the university due to “regulatory changes,” the announcement said. 

Services provided by this program include care and assistance performing daily activities for students with physical disabilities. These include meal aids and personal care assistants. Attendant-care students were notified that while these services are being cut, “the University will continue to directly offer homework aides and peer advisors, classroom and testing accommodations, assistive technology and assistance from a writing specialist,” Lisa Laird, Director of the Office for Accessibility Services, said in a letter addressed to “Attendant-Care students” that was sent following the announcement by Hannan. 

In lieu of this change, “a local service coordinator will be located on campus to assist students in obtaining services,” Hannan said in the email sent at approximately 11 a.m. And in a now-deleted tweet from the official Edinboro University social media account, waivers will be "in place to cover costs of services provided by outside agencies."

The service provider, identified as A Bridge to Independence (ABI) will “maintain an office on campus, and will be available to support you in an ongoing way to arrange services that match your needs,” Laird said. 

Concluding the message, Laird said, an information session would be held Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. in Van Houten North “so that we can talk about these changes and answer...questions.” ABI and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) were at the meeting. 

The meeting was closed-door meaning none other than the students currently enrolled in the attendant-care program would be allowed in. Presenting to and speaking with these students was Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Stacie Wolbert, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications Angela Burrows and three representatives from ABI. 

The decision to only allow students directly impacted by the change into the meeting, Burrows said, was to avoid “chaos.” 

Two days following the original email and scheduled meeting, President Hannan sent an email clarifying some points made in the previous correspondence. 

“I want to assure you that attendant-care services are not going away at Edinboro. Instead, effective at the end of the current academic year (May 2019),” Hannan wrote, continuing on, “These personal care services, which are currently provided by University employees, will be provided by community-based, attendant-care providers, and qualifying costs will be covered by a federal waiver system. Edinboro University will not be eligible to receive these direct-care waivers and therefore will not be able to provide these services directly to those students.”

In addition to follow-up meetings (dates and locations still to be determined) to provide students receiving assistant-care services, Hannan said, “A committee of students who receive attendant-care services, as well as faculty, is being formed to facilitate input and discussion on this change.”

This article will be continually updated as the story develops. 

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