SAS Staff for Source Corner

By MATC Student Accommodation Services

Students with disabilities may be apprehensive about beginning college, but there is no reason to worry about attending Milwaukee Area Technical College. MATC’s Student Accommodation Services Department (SAS) is here to help.

 SAS ensures that students with disabilities receive equal access opportunities to all MATC programs, courses and services according to section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which protects students with disabilities from discrimination and assures full access to the college.

SAS wheelchair graphic

SAS provides reasonable accommodations and academic support to students with disabilities who demonstrate specific educational needs. The goals of the department are:

  • Support educational progress
  • Promote completion of educational objectives
  • Ultimately expect individuals with disabilities to acquire and maintain competitive employment

Under federal regulations, a student has a disability if he/she has:

  • A physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities.
  • Has a record of impairment or is regarded as having impairment.

Students must express the need for an auxiliary aid or service and give adequate notice of the need to the SAS. MATC will then request that the student provide:

  • Supporting diagnostic test results
  • Relevant medical documents
  • Professional prescriptions for auxiliary aid

Title IX

Title IX legislation protects students who are pregnant, have miscarriages or abortions, need childbirth leaves or suffer post-partum depression so that they can stay in school and continue their education. Students who apply for Title IX protection and provide documentation of their pregnancy can receive excused absences for documented medical appointments and childbirth leaves, which may allow them to make up the work missed without penalty. Or MATC may utilize a variety of strategies such as “incompletes,” rearranging assignment sequence, or substituting assignments to allow the students to fulfill the requirements of the class. The instructor’s role in initiating and facilitating this process is crucial to its success.

If you are a student who is missing classes because you are pregnant, please contact Cathy Bohte, or 414-297-6245, in SAS so that you can apply for this protection and we can work together. Title IX is not retroactive so it is important that you apply early.

Sign Language

Sign language interpreters help bridge the communication gap by listening in class and translating lectures and discussions into sign language. They also translate the student’s signed communication into spoken English when the student is called upon, has a comment or question, or makes a presentation. Interpreting is more than just knowing how to sign competently. Interpreters must process language quickly and accurately, and they must think about spoken English and sign language simultaneously.

Interpreters cannot answer personal questions about the student, interject personal opinions or assist a student with schoolwork. They are there strictly to translate what is being said. Interpreters should not be expected to hand out papers, take notes, participate in discussions, assist the instructor or attend class when the student is absent.

The Yellow Umbrella

MATC strives to make its campuses safe for all students. MATC’s Public Safety Department and SAS have established an ongoing dialogue with the d/Deaf* and hard-of-hearing student population to clarify district emergency procedures and to identify any special areas of difficulty these students may have with the current plan.

SAS yellow umbrellas

For most emergencies, MATC uses a mass notification system. Amber-colored strobe lights are used in common areas such as corridors and in areas that have a high level of ambient noise, such as shops and large labs. This visual alert is then followed by verbal instructions that specify the type of emergency and the procedure to follow. Amber lights are not in all classrooms, but the accompanying audio announcement can be heard through speakers in all classrooms, offices and common areas.

A fire monitoring system uses white or clear strobe lights with the word FIRE printed on them. This system broadcasts verbal instructions in corridors and common areas.

Depending on the circumstance, either system may be utilized to alert students, staff and guests of emergencies involving severe weather, active shooter situations, chemical spills, fire evacuation, shelter-in-place emergencies, etc.

A student with a hearing loss may see one of the flashing light systems depending on where he or she is, but unless an interpreter is in close proximity he or she may have no access to the verbal information and instructions that accompany the alert. This can lead to anxiety and confusion. The MATC Public Safety Department recommends that students rely on visual cues in these circumstances. If the crowd is exiting the building, for instance, d/Deaf students are told to follow. Once outside however, d/Deaf students should scan the crowd to find someone to explain what is going on.

A “yellow umbrella” plan was developed to help in this situation. Interpreters were given fluorescent yellow umbrellas with the interpreter emblem printed on them.  Interpreters carry these umbrellas on campus at all times. In the case of an evacuation emergency, interpreters proceed to the designated safe area following district emergency procedures. Once outside, the umbrellas are opened to indicate where a d/Deaf student can go for communication about the evacuation.

While the yellow umbrella plan is a possible solution for only one type of emergency (outdoor evacuation), it is a clear example of MATC departments collaborating creatively to make the college a safe and accessible environment for all students. Look to future issues of disAbility Focus for more proactive, innovative ideas on this topic.

Service Dogs

What is a service dog? According to the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability, such as recognizing the onset of a seizure or picking up a fallen object. According to the ADA, the dog does not need to be formally trained and does not need to have a certificate stating that the dog completed a training program. The service dog does not need to wear a vest or other indicator that it is a service dog.

SAS service dogs

How do you know if the dog is a service dog? When it is not obvious what service(s) the dog provides, MATC personnel are only allowed to ask two questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal that is required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The student should not be asked what his/her disability is and does not need to divulge that information. If the student answers “yes” to the first question and states a task, the student should be allowed to resume his/her participation in the activity. If there are questions, Public Safety can be called or the student can be referred to SAS.

What are the responsibilities of students who have service dogs? Students with service dogs are responsible for the care of the dog, which includes: being kept on a leash and under the student’s control, hygiene upkeep, and ensuring that the dog is housebroken, up to date on all immunization requirements and pest-free. The dog should not be left in classrooms/offices unattended while students are participating in college activities. The owner should discourage classmates from petting and feeding the dog.

Tips for instructors are: treat the dog and its owner as a team, allow the dog on field trips, seat the student and dog on the opposite side of the classroom if another student has pet allergies and call Public Safety if the dog is being disruptive.

*The use of the capital D in this article is intentional. A small d refers to someone who is audiologically deaf but may or may not identify culturally with the Deaf community. A capital D is used to refer to people who use American Sign Language and for whom Deafness is a cultural identity.

SAS Locations & Contact Information

Downtown Milwaukee Campus
Room C219 

Mequon Campus
Room A282—enter through the Learning Commons   

Oak Creek Campus
Room A211

West Allis Campus
Room W217                                                                                                  

SAS Contact Information