Students Helping Students: YSU Disability Services

By Gabrielle Fellows

Youngstown State University Disability Services assists students who have trouble with the daily tasks of college, such as taking notes and walking to class.

While most of the available services offered at disability services come from full-time employees of the university, a large chunk of help comes from fellow students.

Gina Marafiote, a psychology major at YSU, is just one of those students. She is hired by the university to be a note taker for students who are blind, hard of hearing or are physically unable to write.

Marafiote said she heard of the program from a friend who had assisted other students in the note taking before and really enjoyed it. Intrigued about the service, she applied for the job and said it was only a matter of time before she fell in love with it.

“It’s more of a process of students who can’t take notes, not like most students who just don’t want to. That really got me interested and intrigued, because I never really thought of that before. I consider myself to be a good note taker and I try to write neatly and organize everything so … I can write notes clearly for [others],” Marafiote said. “Not only do I get to learn about the class, but I find it really rewarding because I can help someone who can’t take notes for themselves.”

According to the YSU Disability Services website, “The college uses the Individual Accommodations Model to determine appropriate and effective academic accommodations. The model helps both the student and the service provider select accommodations that are based on a student’s needs, strengths and goals. For a person with a learning disability, accommodations might include extended time on tests, test-taking in an isolated setting, a note taker or the use of a tape recorder.”

There are certain qualifications students must meet in order to become note takers themselves. A certain number of credit hours must be met, a certain GPA obtained and handwriting must always be legible and neat, for others rely on those notes to study from and complete homework.

YSU offers many different disability services to those who are in need of them. From loaning students adaptive equipment, providing escort services and having a lounge just for students with severe disabilities, to many more.

Anthony Hartwig, a telecommunications major, uses the escort services provided by the school on a daily basis. He said that it is a big help for him, especially during the cold weather and snowy conditions of late.

“I don’t use testing services, but I do use the school’s escort services. … They allow me to get dropped off and picked up from my bus … [and] if I have any problems with accessibility around campus, they have people who make sure it gets fixed,” Hartwig said.

Disability services and its connected programs can be contacted by any student, at any time, for assistance — as long as the student qualifies.

“It’s definitely a help,” Hartwig said. “I don’t think I’d be able to get around campus without the people that run that service.”