May 25, 2019  

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Office of Disability Accommodations Focused on Student Success

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Helping students with a disability or disabilities succeed is the mission of the Office of Disability Accommodations (ODA) at The University of Southern Mississippi.

The ODA works on an individual basis with students eligible for accommodations in the classroom outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to develop and coordinate reasonable accommodations specific to their disabilities. It achieves this goal through intake and evaluation of students seeking its services, and working with academic units on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses to ensure full participation and access for students with disabilities.

Scott Dossett, director of ODA, said approximately 500 students engage the office for services that aid them in meeting their academic obligations while managing disabilities ranging from learning and attention deficit disorders to physical and medical challenges, among others, that may require alternative accommodations in and outside the classroom.

The ODA can also provide guidance for students who are unsure if they have a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and want a diagnosis.

“We treat every student who seeks our support and services as an individual,” Dossett said. “For example, we may have several students with one type of disability, but each will likely need unique accommodations.”

ODA accommodation services include the following:

*Temporary Illness or Injuries (for assistance available for temporary situations)
*Pregnancy Related Accommodations (for assistance available for accommodations and absences due to pregnancy)
*Coast Campuses and Distant Teaching Sites (for accommodations and assistance)
*Online Courses (for accommodation procedures)
*Exam Accommodations (addressing procedures to take exams through the ODA)
*Work Accommodations (for University employees and student workers)
*Complaints, Grievances and Suggestions (for how to provide feedback or file a complaint)
*Textbook Accommodations (Guidelines for obtaining eTextbooks to be read aloud by assistive technology)
*Assistive Technology (Brochure that includes locations and descriptions of assistive technology available on campus)

Dossett encourages those who might have or believe they have some kind of disability, but choose to attend school at USM without seeking accommodations through ODA, to visit the ODA’s offices on campus for a brief visit to learn about what it can offer. The ODA is located in Bond Hall on the Hattiesburg campus and in the Technology Learning Center on the Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.

“Sometimes a student might be hesitant or embarrassed to seek help with a disability, or to find out if they may have a disability,” Dossett said. “But we’re not giving special advantages because of disabilities – it’s still up to the student to go to class, study, take their exams and complete other assignments. We just work to make the ‘playing field’ level for students who need our services.” 

Southern Miss Dean of Students Dr. Eddie Holloway said that through the ODA, links to student academic, social and personal successes can be established along with steps to network with others. 

“We see the ODA’s services as key to the University’s efforts in student retention, academic progress and graduation,” Holloway said. “Its staff is congenial and prepared to address the needs of students with disabilities, and welcomes the opportunity to serve them.”

For information about services available through the Southern Miss Office of Disability Accommodations, call 601.266.5024 (Hattiesburg) or 228.214.3400 (Gulf Park); or visit . For a listing of accommodation services through ODA, visit