Access All Areas: empowering students with assistive technology at Towson University

University life can be tough, especially for students with learning disabilities. But at Towson University, Disability Specialist Amy Pryor is witnessing a transformation thanks to Glean.

Clock 3 min read Calendar Published: 20 May 2024
Author Chileshe Jackson
Access All Areas: empowering students with assistive technology at Towson University

Finding success through support: a conversation with Amy Pryor

Amy is passionate about creating a learning environment where all students can thrive, having experienced many challenges throughout her educational journey.

During her college years, she was diagnosed with severe hearing loss and learning disabilities

In this Q&A, Amy discusses her journey, the impact of assistive technology, and the importance of collaboration in empowering students with disabilities.

How did your experiences with accommodations influence your decision to work in disability services?    

I struggled in school and college without the right support. Teachers were not able to provide me with the necessary accommodations, and I just had to just get on with it.

However, my experience changed when I became an undergraduate student at Towson University, where I finally received the support I needed to succeed.

Now that I work here, it feels like a full circle moment for me. I am excited to be able to assist other students who are facing similar struggles. My goal is to provide the same kind of support that helped me succeed to other students, and I am passionate about doing so.

Can you tell us more about how Glean has helped students at Towson University?          

We've seen a lot of excitement! Students who haven't used accommodations before are finding features like transcripts and audio recordings particularly helpful.

Are there specific Glean features that stand out more?  

One of the standout features of Glean is the lightning mode. Some students can feel overwhelmed by the numerous features that Glean offers.

However, with lightning mode, they can scale back and only access the transcript and audio recording without adding additional elements.

Additionally, some students prefer to take handwritten notes, but they can still benefit from Glean's audio recording and transcript afterwards.

How do you help students transition into independent learners in college? 

I believe that having independence is key. It helps build their confidence and teaches them to rely less on others. Many students may have relied on others for many things in high school, but in college, they are expected to be independent adults. Glean offers them the opportunity to be independent with note taking and the ability to review audio recordings or transcripts.

How does Towson University ensure student success goes beyond just providing academic accommodations? 

Our goal is to support students throughout their full education experience. Accommodations are crucial, but they're just one piece of the puzzle. We offer a comprehensive support system that addresses various challenges students face, including time management, study skills, organization, and even navigating the logistics of college life.

Transitioning to college can be daunting, especially for students with disabilities. That's why we have programs like peer mentoring, workforce development initiatives, and the Delta Alpha Pi (DAP) Society. These programs help students connect with peers, develop valuable skills, and feel engaged outside the classroom.

Are there any challenges when it comes to using assistive technology in the classroom?    

Some faculty members have expressed concerns, particularly regarding recording lectures in classes with discussions or where students share personal information. We understand these concerns and are committed to finding solutions that address them.

We work collaboratively with faculty to develop clear guidelines and strategies. For example, we might suggest recording only the lecture portion and turning off recording during discussions.

It's about creating a win-win situation where students can benefit from recording while respecting faculty concerns and classroom dynamics.

Learn more about how to work with faculty

Beyond students with diagnosed disabilities, how might making assistive technology readily available benefit all learners?  

That statistic you mentioned earlier is really important. 

"It's estimated that 65% of students with disabilities aren't registered for support."

It creates such a barrier to their educational experience. It could be because getting documentation is a hurdle, or maybe it's just general anxiety. Whatever the reason, it's stopping them from coming to us for support.

So yeah, if we could make assistive technology available to everyone, not just registered students, that could be a massive benefit. It's something a lot of students could utilize. And, we already see them using all sorts of technology and AI around campus anyway.

Why is it important for disability services to advocate for students?  

Many students, especially those new to higher education, haven't had to advocate for themselves before. We play a crucial role in empowering them with the tools and confidence to do so independently.

This might involve teaching them effective communication skills or accompanying them to meetings with professors or advisors. Ultimately, the goal is to equip them to self-advocate not just in the academic setting, but also as they enter the workforce.

Does Towson University have a strong support network for students with disabilities?

Yes. We have a collaborative network in place. Faculty and staff are increasingly aware of the resources available through disability services and often refer students to us.

This proactive approach ensures students get the support they need early on.

Additionally, faculty and staff are open to providing additional support when needed. For example, a professor might adjust their teaching style to accommodate a student's disability. This creates a strong support system that empowers students with disabilities to achieve their academic goals.

Building a Brighter Future

Amy's story and the positive impact of Glean at Towson University highlight the importance of providing accessible technology and fostering a collaborative environment. By working together, institutions like Towson can ensure all students have the tools and support they need to reach their full potential.

Want to learn more?

Interesting thoughts from Amy, especially around making assistive technology accessible for all learners. If 65% of students are not declaring their disabilities, how can we reach them?

Learn more about it in our upcoming webinar "Don't ask, don't get" on May 29th, 1 pm ET.

If you can't make the date, speak to one of our Strategic Customer Success Managers who will take you through everything you need to know to reach more students and help those who need it the most even when they don't ask for help. 

Register now
Time for a simpler, smarter note taking accommodation?

Time for a simpler, smarter note taking accommodation?

Glean is the online note taking tool that makes compliance simple, reduces cost and admin burden, and improves student outcomes.
Learn More