WSU program aims to help students with disabilities

WSU program aims to help students with disabilities
BARRY BRIGGS | THE DAILY EVERGREENBrenda Barrio, assistant professor of special education, talks about the ROAR program, which will begin in the fall with four students.

An inclusive post-secondary education program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities will launch in the fall semester and grow in the following years.

WSU Responsibility, Opportunity, Advocacy and Respect, or ROAR, is a two-year College of Education program for young adults ages 18-29 that will help them with their college experiences, from classwork to their social lives.

“One of the things that we really wanted to make sure that we had with this program is access, but also the opportunity for students to keep growing,” Brenda Barrio, assistant professor of special education, said. “It’s one thing to provide access, but another thing to actually provide support and the opportunities for them.”

ROAR will provide amenities such as auditing courses, same-aged peer support and on-campus housing.

Auditing courses, when available, are those that can be non-credited and focus on the student’s personal and career interests. Barrio said ROAR will work with faculty members individually to provide accommodations and modifications to alleviate concerns that may arise from faculty members and students.

“Faculty members don’t have to feel like they have to provide all this information,” Barrio said, “but also for our students to not feel the pressure of, ‘I need to make an A or I’m going to fail.’ “

ROAR students are assisted with peer allies who are undergraduate and graduate student volunteers. Allies will be trained and given tasks such as accompanying ROAR students to class, introducing them to peers and participating in events and gatherings.

ROAR principal investigator Donald McMahon said peer allies will be providing a lot of support when it comes to accompanying ROAR students to class. Barrio said learning how to use public transportation is one of the things she hopes ROAR students will do.

“I imagine that our students will quickly start finding that level of independence,” McMahon said.

An attendee from ROAR’s information session commented during a presentation with Barrio that on-campus housing is one of the many services that distinguishes ROAR from other programs. ROAR students will live in a three- or four-bedroom apartment in Chinook Village with other students in the program. Assistive living advisers, much like resident advisers, will be available for questions and emergencies.

For more information on ROAR, read the full story HERE.