The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs

Volume VII, Issue 1 January 2006 Editor: James Walborn



In December 2005, FAU unveiled the Center For The Study Of Neurological Disabilities, through the financial support of the non-profit group, Stand Among Friends. The center, which occupies 3,500 square feet in the new Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing building, suite 120, supports research, education, and advocacy for people with neurological disorders.
The Center is seeking foundation funding for a variety of projects, many of which will assist students with disabilities. These include: Funds to provide on-campus housing for two students with neurological disabilities, along with attendant care assistance; funds for computer stations and enhanced web site; funds to employ OSD students on a part-time basis; and a full-time employment counselor for disabled students. The Center does not plan to replicate services already provided within the community, and will act as an information referral network to guide individuals to these services. For more information visit the web site at or call (561) 297-4403.


OSD Assistant Director, Lynn Gil and Coordinator, Michelle Shaw gave a collaborative presentation with PBCC and Palm Beach County School District personnel to about 160 high school students with disabilities and their families about what students should be doing in high school to prepare for transitioning to college. The audience was educated about the differences between K through 12th grade services and post-secondary services, the accommodations process for the SAT and ACT tests, the community college and university registration processes and disability programs, and the documentation requirements for the various types of disabilities.


The OSD and CDC held a joint workshop entitled, “College: What Next?” Students with disabilities were given an overview about how the CDC can help them throughout their college careers by CDC Assistant Director Gail Galbraith, advice about the value of co-ops and internships by CDC Executive Director Sandy Jakubow, and information about specific co-ops and internships for students with disabilities by OSD Coordinator Barbara Bazinsky. Students attending this excellent workshop were treated to pizzas and sodas, along with a wealth of information.


On February 7th and 8th a Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) representative will interview up to 24 students with disabilities for summer internship opportunities and full-time positions. The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities is a very special employment project co-sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Labor and the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
The program provides a referral system for the 1500 college students with disabilities who will be interviewed across the country this spring for both private companies and government agencies. While the OSD recommended the students for the program and set up the interviews, the CDC assisted the students in developing their resumes and interviewing skills.


A woman from the community, who wished not to be named, brought in a full frozen Thanksgiving turkey and all of the trimmings to be given to a needy student. She is a single, working mother whose daughter was given the dinner by her school. Since they were going to grandma’s for the holidays and didn’t need the dinner, she thoughtfully passed it on to someone who wasn’t as fortunate. On behalf of the grateful student, thank you.


Wade Berstler (see article in the May, 2005 OSD newsletter) earned an opportunity to participate in The Millionaire tv show. He won $8,000. Congratulations Wade


Christina Panczak-Smith, who graduated from FAU in May 2005 with her MS in Counselor Education, is employed as a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the State Division of Blind Services, West Palm Beach. Blind all of her life, Christina describes her job as, “wonderful.” She states, “I enjoy helping others adjust to their blindness and help them to obtain jobs where they’re happy. I find that extremely gratifying.” Those of you who remember her service dog Joanie, you’ll be happy to know that she continues to help Christina get to work safely every day. For enlightening information on Christina and Joanie (skydiving!?!), you can check out our Fall, 2001 newsletter article [No Petting, Please] on our web site at


Naomi Greelis, Coordinator of Diversity Services, Jupiter Campus, was featured in an article by Vice President Kristen Murtaugh in the MacHoot Newsletter. Highlighted were Naomi’s efforts working with FAU staff to make the MacArthur Campus more accessible, assisting the Library Director to make it more user friendly, and helping to educate the staff about the Library's assistive technology workstations. She presented a luncheon workshop with several others to faculty and staff titled “10 Strategies to Promote High Quality Learning: Supporting Students with Disabilities in College” and she created a series of activities collectively called “Try on My Shoes” to help educate the FAU community about various disabilities. Well done, Naomi! The newsletter can be found on line at


Michelle Shaw is the Boca OSD Coordinator of Notetaker Services. She is a familiar face around campus, having been employed at FAU since 2000 in a variety of jobs. She is an alumnus, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (2002), Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction (2003), and is currently working towards her Specialist Degree in Higher Education. She has been with the OSD for a year and also teaches “Art: Elementary School” in the College of Education.
Michelle feels that “providing students with disabilities with proper classroom notes is a very important job.” Students with disabilities may quickly fall behind in their classwork if there are problems with the notetakers or the quality of the notes. Michelle monitors this process throughout the semester while assisting with a variety of other office projects.

Last semester the OSD utilized 182 volunteer and 13 paid notetakers. Students who are unable to take notes for themselves due to their disability, such as quadriplegic students, receive paid notetakers. Other students, such as those with learning disabilities, who take their own notes but cannot keep up with the pace of the class, receive the lecture notes from a fellow classmate who volunteers. While the paid notetaker works closely with the student, the volunteer notetaking process is kept confidential.
The professor is given a letter from the OSD to read asking for a volunteer notetaker. The volunteer comes to the OSD for an orientation and is told only the student’s first name and last initial, for confidentiality. At the end of each class the volunteer brings his/her notes to the OSD and copies them, leaving a copy for the student. Some students want to know their notetaker while others prefer not to reveal their disability, which is their right.

Students can have their volunteer hours permanently recorded on their college transcripts. They keep track of their hours and then turn them in to Michelle, who records them with the Volunteer Center. As a gift, volunteer notetakers receive a pocket portfolio during their notetaker orientation. Also, each year the OSD thanks the volunteers with a dinner in April, where they receive a certificate and a letter of recommendation. Michelle also sends a “thank you” letter to the professors who make the volunteer announcement in their class.

“I like my job. I like working with the volunteers and I like working with the students,” Michelle exclaims. “It’s a challenging job and never dull.”


We want to encourage comments and contributions from our readers. Please address any comments to Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. Current and past issues are available on the web at
This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca Campus: SU 133; phone (561) 297-3880, TTY (561) 297-0358. Davie Campus: MD I, Room 104; phone (954) 236-1222, TTY (954) 236-1146.

FAU Campuses: Boca Raton/Davie/Dania Beach/Fort Lauderdale/Jupiter/Treasure Coast Boca Raton Campus Danie Beach Campus Davie Campus Fort Lauderdale Campus Harbor Branch Campus Jupiter Campus Treasure Campus
 Last Modified 8/27/15