By Stephen Burgers
Debra Wright-Howard joined the City College staff in January and heads the High Tech Center for Disability Support Programs & Services (DSPS).
She said she wants to “optimize the use of available tools which allow disabled students accessibility and accommodation in the educational challenge.”
Wright-Howard brings with her an extensive resume, which includes a degree in educational leadership at SDSU, a doctoral degree from USD in leadership studies and a postdoctoral in online accessibility and teaching.
If she is “providing tools or resources to be successful then I’ve been successful,” Wright-Howard said.
She enjoys the community college level because it is about teaching and seeing students succeed, and finds her inspiration from people who celebrate education, challenge life and will not accept mediocrity.
According to City student Lawrence Walker, Wright-Howard deserves a lot of credit for teaching the adaptive computer services, which are helping him to succeed in furthering his education.
She is encouraging students to take classes to learn the usability of alternative media programs.
Another role of her new position is working with faculty to minimize any impediments or disadvantages in the learning process that are linked to disability.
The alternative media individualizes learning to meet the needs of students.
“The DSPS first became a part of City College in the 70s to help students use all available resources to achieve educational goals,” said professor and counselor Pamela Finkel.
The staff consists of 15 members, five counselors and six support clinicians with each specializing in one facet or more of disability services. The services range from simple accessibility, such as elevators to more complex services, such as E-texts, and other adaptive hardware specifically designed to ease disadvantages that might otherwise discourage education.
The goal of DSPS is “to help students use all available resources to achieve educational goals,” according to Finkel, who also teaches Personal Growth 127 and Career Planning 027 which “create realistic career choices.”
The counseling services are geared toward assisting students to be independent and able to achieve the goals they seek.
“The program helped between 550-600 students last semester,” said Darwin Browne, a staff member who explained some of the benefits that are available to students.
He also feels the programs is generally successful and knows one graduate who is now a counselor at SDSU. These services are a proven and welcomed method of educational facilitation for students who participate.