Friday, April 25, 2014

ODAS provides support

The Office of Disability Academic Support helps students succeed in classes

As tests begin to roll around from the faculty of Liberty University, many students are grateful for the helping hands of the Office of Disability Academic Support (ODAS).

Denny McHaney, the current director of ODAS, said he founded the program in the fall of 1985 after he was approached by Liberty to fill the school’s growing need to provide help for those with disabilities.

According to McHaney, ODAS functions as a liaison between students and professors in order for accommodations to be made for the students to better their academic experience while attending Liberty.

ODAS has many different tools and strategies to help students achieve their highest potential during their education, McHaney said. Students can benefit from programs designed to aid them with their exams, such as the option to take their tests in the Bruckner Learning Center, which is located in Green Hall room 2700.

Sarah Heil, a junior studying communications with a concentration in advertising and public relations, explained her experiences with ODAS.

“They’ve been really sensitive to my situation and have been extremely helpful,” Heil said. “The testing center has been great because it has helped me be able to focus and removes the stress of being in the classroom during a test.”

Heil explained that during her sophomore year she was told that she had working memory deficiency and short-term memory loss, which have impacted her studies at Liberty.

“I’ve always had problems with certain subjects, but when I found out that I had a learning disability, (ODAS) was extremely helpful in making arrangements for me to succeed in my classes, and I have been so grateful for them,” Heil said.

According to McHaney, ODAS offers various other tools to assist students with overcoming their disabilities. Students go through an approval process that must be documented to be given accommodations for taking tests, lecture materials and other needs that the students may have.

McHaney explained that the professors who were within ODAS at the onset of the program all held faculty positions and taught classes full time.

“I was teaching a full load of classes, and then I started to gather names of students who had told the school in whatever fashion that they had some type of learning disability,” McHaney said. “So we started from there and eventually branched out.”

According to McHaney, ODAS provides help for both online and residential students.

“Up until the past few years, there was a separate ODAS office for online students,” McHaney said. “So when I became full-time, they asked if I would take over the online department as well.”

McHaney explained that he has a wealth of experience of more than 20 years working with students of various disabilities and is a strong advocate for students who come to ODAS.

“My driving purpose is to see the students eventually graduate and succeed in the plan that God has for them,” McHaney said. “To see folks go across the platform and watch them graduate and then move on to bigger things is what keeps me going.”

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