Campus Life

Accommodated Learning Centre supporting students, changing perceptions

The services and support they offer are the same – and so is the location – but it’s a brand new day at the University of Lethbridge’s Accommodated Learning Centre (ALC).

Formerly the Disabilities Resource Centre, the ALC has rebranded itself, and the reason is simple.

The Accommodated Learning Centre staff, (L to R) Aaron Tamayose, Sheila Gilker, Dale Pulvermacher, Mallory Smith and Catherine Drenth.

“I think the name represents the student population that we serve a little bit better,” says Aaron Tamayose, a specialized support coordinator for the ALC. “Really, that’s all there is to it.”

Manager Sheila Gilker says the name change better reflects how the office and her staff support U of L students and their learning needs.

“It speaks more to what we do in terms of support for students,” she says. “It uses more person-centred and person-friendly language as well, which is important in reducing any negative stigma that may have been associated with the previous name.”

In fact, says Tamayose, the split between students who have actual diagnosed learning disabilities and those with psychiatric conditions is fairly even. Therefore, using a blanket term like disability is not representative of the office’s clientele, which now measures about 5 per cent of the total student population.

“The feedback we’ve received so far has been great,” he says, referencing a consultative e-mail that was sent to their student base as well as other stakeholders about the name change.

“The students have been very positive about it and especially those who use our services that don’t necessarily fall under a disability label, it better represents their needs.”

The ALC supports students in a variety of ways, from simple tutoring assistance, to helping those with exam anxiety to assisting others with auditory and visual disabilities. Whether it’s a physical or medical condition, Gilker’s group is charged to give students every opportunity to succeed in their studies.

“It will take a little bit of time but I think the new name will give us a better opportunity to recreate the culture surrounding our operation,” adds Tamayose.

In the end, if it brings more students to their front door (B760), everyone profits.