Viewing the work of disability services differently


Office Name

What is current practice?

Typical office titles focus on service delivery for individual students with disabilities. The titles focus on the disabled student's individual need for support and assistance and often avoid the word "disability."


  • Disabled Student Services
  • Center for Students with Disabilities
  • Support Services for Students With Disabilities
  • AccessAbility Office
  • Student Office for Alternative Resources
  • Center for Differently Abled Students

What are the implicit messages?

  • Disabled students require a separate office focused on their needs in order to achieve. They are a costly problem to the institution.
  • Disabled students are unable to achieve without professional assistance. The service office ensures access and is largely responsible for the success of disabled students.
  • Disability is negative. When the word ‘disability’ is intentionally excluded from an office title or the word is corrupted, such as disABILITY, it adds to the stigma of the word and discourages a positive affiliation.

How might this be different?


  • Disability Resources
  • Office for Disability and Equity
  • Disability Access
  • Disability Resource Center

What is the potential impact of this change?

  • The term “resources” suggests options and choices available to all members of the campus community.
  • Disability is valued and not presented as a problem.
  • Terms like ‘equity’ and ‘diversity’ in an office title clearly place disability into the spectrum of social justice.
  • The focus is not exclusively on students; this change allows for an emphasis on designing inclusive environments that minimize the need for individual accommodations or services.
  • An institution-wide role for the service office is established relative to the design of all campus environments, rather than limiting its reach to services for individual students.
  • Using disability in the office name
    • ensures people can easily seek and find resources
    • creates an opportunity for students to embrace a positive affiliation with disability when it is not viewed as a problem that requires fixing and help.