Riverside City College disabled students face challenges

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By Aniela Russo

The Disability Resource Center is accommodating Riverside City College students with disabilities despite the closure of in-person campus resources.

Students with disabilities continue to learn how to navigate online resources at RCC.  Remote learning has proven difficult for all students, but students with disabilities face more challenges. 

Pamela J. Starr, director of the DRC, said that the district had seen a drop in enrollment, but the DRC has seen an increase in activity during the pandemic. 

“Some services will remain remote to reach more students,” Starr said. “To continue to be more engaged and available, we are updating our website with links for scheduling and making more resource information available on our social media platforms.”

Lai Saelee, a second-year student with a disability majoring in communications at RCC, enrolled in DRC services during the pandemic. She is a single mother raising a two-year-old and four-year-old who are not able to attend daycare because of the pandemic. 

Saelee said the process of registration was simple. The accommodations she needs were identified and implemented remotely.

“It was a difficult process at first, but staff like Diana Decastro and Keith (Coleman) have been very helpful, and I’m on track now.”

Lai expressed she prefers to be on campus and learns better in an in-class environment. Tutoring is available online, but she struggles with technology.

“I’m a hands-on learner,” Lai said. “I need to be present and learning. I’m overwhelmed and can’t wait to be back on campus.” 

Many DRC students require a notetaker, but the center is struggling to provide this resource. Starr said they are working on the issue.

Disabled students face academic challenges that can be compounded by mental health issues.

The DRC director added that they are working hard to respond to students in a timely manner. Students already in DRC have a variety of options for resources remotely. Drop-in hours for online counseling are available for counselors to support and assist students with disabilities.

The process of registration has been simplified and students are allowed to email their documentation to make an appointment with a counselor. New applicants can apply online at https://www.rcc.edu/services/disablestudents/Pages/students.aspx.

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