GCC Eases Challenges of Online and Remote Learning For Students with Disabilities

Corinna Scott, Staff Writer

Students with disabilities have a wide variety of services available to them through Glendale Community College’s website, including employment support, technology resources such as loaner iPads, and help with studies and academic counseling.

The Center for Students with Disabilities connects with the Accommodations Resource Center (formerly known as HTC and IAC) and the Disabled Students Programs and Services or DSPS office in their combined effort to serve the student body. If a student is eligible for DSPS, then the ARC can assess individual technology needs.

Working with GCC and DSPS has been easy and accessible, said Cecilia Whitney, a sophomore majoring in Media and Communications, in an interview with El Vaquero

“The faculty I’ve worked with have also had a positive and ready-to-work attitude. Diana Carillo is my counselor, and she has assisted me with my student education plan and with choosing the accommodations that I need.”

The staff also does a great job of getting information back to students quickly, according to Whitney.

“My message to new GCC students is to never be afraid to ask for help. I would also like to add that it’s better to reserve appointments earlier than later. Especially if the appointments concern accommodations. It’s better to start class with the accommodations than to have to wait for them to be applied,” Whitney said.

When Caroline De La Rocha, a student majoring in social work, first decided to enroll at GCC, she said she felt reluctant, thinking she would have “too many learning difficulties to pass my classes, and I probably wasn’t going to be able to manage the classes I had enrolled in.”

However, the Center for Students with Disabilities staff was “supportive and accommodating to me and my individual learning needs through this whole process,” De La Rocha said.

“Additionally, Ellen Oppenberg (professor and DSPS specialist) has helped to provide me with a lot of great tools to help me retain study materials and understand what it is that I am doing. She has also helped me to acquire accommodations such as note-taking and longer test time, and has met with me over phone conference and Zoom to discuss any issue that I might be having,” De La Rocha said. 

“Overall, I can say that I feel much more confident in my classes and very well taken care of. I really feel that any student who has learning disabilities should definitely take advantage of the wonderful disabilities department that GCC provides,” De La Rocha said.

Jasmine Matthews, a sophomore studying Creative Writing, reached out to ARC and the DSPS office. In an interview with El Vaquero she mentioned how “both [offices] were able to accommodate [Matthews] adequately by reaching out to  instructors, applying for services [she] needed, and helping [her] set up a Student Education Plan (SEP).” 

The staff at DSPS “helped me get the best accommodations and accommodation plan I needed. Even when there are occasional hiccups, they are easy to contact for quick solutions,” Matthews said.

Currently, due to being remote, the offices are unable to administer the Learning Disability assessment to incoming students with disabilities or ones looking to see if they qualify for DSPS services, according to an email sent by Oppenberg.  The reason for this is because it is a standardized test that is not intended to be given other than in-person. The part that we were able to administer is the intake portion of the assessment.

“Temporary accommodations are being given while we are remote if, in my professional opinion, the student will most likely qualify for DSPS services once we are back in person and I can administer the full LD assessment,” Oppenberg said in an email.

Below is a list of  additional resources for GCC students with disabilities who qualify for DSPS:

  • The Verdugo Jobs Center serves the Glendale, Burbank and La Canada Flintridge area and serves individuals with disabilities, veterans, and those experiencing homelessness. It offers professional development opportunities and resources. The Verdugo Jobs Center is currently closed but is offering virtual assistance. For unemployment insurance questions, call (818) 409-0041, option 3 or email [email protected]. For other services, call (818) 937-8000 or email [email protected]v. The webpage can be found at  https://glendaleca.gov and typing Verdugo Job Center in the provided search bar.
  • Department of Rehabilitation (not drug or alcohol rehabilitation) helps individuals with disabilities in terms of education and job placement.  If you are in the service area, you can mention you are a GCC student and register with GCC liaison Nancy Osipo-Peera at the Glendale office. 
  • Independent Living Centers of Southern California:  https://ilcsc.org/ and Ability First: https://www.abilityfirst.org/ are agencies that help individuals with disabilities. They provide a wide variety of services, covering living situations and needs to transportation and life and job skills and coaching. 
  • Access LA can help with transportation. It is  LA County’s ADA complementary paratransit service for functionally disabled individuals and is a curb-to-curb, shared-ride service.  https://accessla.org/

If you’d like an appointment to discuss which of the above resources could work for your needs, make an appointment via [email protected] or 818-240-1000 ext. 5905. 

Ellen Oppenberg can be reached by phone 818-240-1000 ext. 5529 or email at [email protected]

Corinna Scott can be reached at [email protected]