Julie Goldberg does not let her disabilities stop her from doing what she loves.

The West Virginia University junior is a deaf and low-vision freelance photographer for local bands in Morgantown with a dream of helping others with disabilities.

She hopes to someday help teach others how to communicate better with people who are living with disabilities. She would also like to help people with disabilities who have been abused.

“I want everyone to know that people with disabilities can do whatever they love and want to do, even if it is a challenge,” she said.

Goldberg, a native of Pittsburgh and a women’s studies major, communicates with the help of cochlear implants, sign language and lip reading. From the time she gets up to the time she goes to sleep, she is faced with many obstacles.

“It is a challenge every day. I live in a hearing world,” she said. “There are alarm clocks, phones and TVs – not to mention communicating with people can be overwhelming.”

In her classes, Goldberg has to worry about the battery in her cochlear implants going dead and missing things the instructor says. And, when working on group projects it can be difficult for her to communicate to the other members.

Through WVU’s Office of Disability Services, Goldberg receives assistance from a sign language interpreter who attends classes with her, so she does not miss anything. The office also helps arrange an interpreter for Goldberg when she attends conferences for her major, and, if requested, the office will send an interpreter to WVU Student Health appointments with her.

The office also works with her professors to make sure they are aware of her disabilities and can accommodate her.

“It helps a lot and it is refreshing to know that I don’t have to find and pay an interpreter on my own,” Goldberg said.

WVU’s Office of Disability Services assists between 1,300 and 1,500 students with academic, psychological and physical disabilities a semester.

The office provides accommodations such as suggestions for class scheduling, materials in accessible formats, priority registration, transportation for class-related activities, temporary accessible parking, note taking assistance, sign language interpreters and referrals to appropriate agencies, among other things.

The office has a responsibility to make sure that students with disabilities who attend WVU have equal access to the same education that someone who attends the University without a disability would have, said Rebecca Berger, assistant director of WVU’s Office of Disability Services.

Unlike when students are in primary school, however, the University is not contacted by an outside agency when a student is disabled and needs assistance. The student must contact and seek assistance from the office.

After contacting the office, a counselor will meet privately with the student to determine exactly what kind of assistance he or she needs.

“Every student and every situation is different. It is important to take the time to meet with each student and figure out what is best for them,” Berger said.

Students with disabilities who need assistance are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services to set up an appointment with a counselor. The office can be reached at 304-293-6700, TDD: 304-293-7740 and e-mail at access2@mail.wvu.edu.

Mountaineer Academic Program

In addition to the free services offered by WVU’s Office of Disability Services, they also offer a fee-for-service academic tutoring program.

The Mountaineer Academic Program is an academic coaching, tutoring and peer-mentoring program for students with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder.

The program provides students with support in study skills, time management, goal setting, problem solving and self-mentoring skills.

Students who participate in the program receive one-on-one support and weekly contact with an academic coach, 35 hours of tutoring a semester, personal skills support, academic guidance and counseling for major/career decision making and are offered opportunities to take part in small group meetings.

The program cost $850 a semester. Students interested in applying to MAP can contact the Office of Disability Services at 304-293-6700.

For more information about the Office of Disability Services, visit http://socialjustice.wvu.edu/office_of_disability_services.



CONTACT: Colleen DeHart, News and Information Services
304-293-5507, Colleen.Wright@mail.wvu.edu