Services for Students with Disabilities

The University of Michigan officially recognized the Office of Disabled Student Services in February of 1974 five months after the passage of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act which included a section (#504) for the protection of individuals with disabilities in institutions receiving any type of federal assistance. In 1989, the office changed its name to Services for Students with Disabilities to reflect a more student centered approach.

Throughout its history, SSD has played a prominent role in advocating for students with disability issues at the state, national and international levels. Some of the accomplishments of directors both past and present include: President of the International organization known as the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD); President of the Michigan chapter of AHEAD; design and implementation of the professional standards used to assess postsecondary disability services worldwide; contributed to writing the national documentation guidelines for learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and mental health disabilities; current members of the editorial board of the international peer reviewed journal: Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disabilities.

SSD was instrumental in passing a piece of legislation known as the “Barbara Bill” which made it Michigan law that print publishers must provide electronic version of books to institutions of higher education to make them accessible to the students with vision and reading disabilities. SSD established one of the first adaptive computing labs and in concert with the Provost’s office established a fund to support mandated accommodations the cost of which would overwhelm the resources of the SSD office. This fund is one of the first of its kind and has become a model used nationwide.