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UT Tyler helping more students than ever overcome education obstacles

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TYLER (KYTX) - A program at UT Tyler that helps students overcome obstacles in their education is growing quicker than ever.  Just in the last three years, the program has almost tripled in size.  

Cindy Lowery has spent the last three years working with driven, hard working and bright UT Tyler students, She says they're anything but the one word society often uses to describe them - disabled.  

"It's not a disability. It's a difference," she says.

As the Accessibility and Resources Coordinator she helps students who are different, by maybe giving a larger screen to someone who's visually impaired or providing a quiet test taking room for someone with a learning disorder.

"When I came on there were 97 students being served. I recognized immediately, statistically across the nation, that is very low," Lowery says. 

Within three years that number quickly shot up to 278 students. It was such a big expansion that Lowery hired a new case worker to help out.  

She says one main factor fueled the almost 300 percent increase. Last year, new guidelines were created within the Americans with Disabilities Act. These guidelines expanded the list of "disabilities" that colleges are able to help, using federal funding.

"Someone who is in a wheelchair, someone who is deaf or blind is actually the minority of the population we serve," Lowery says. 

Now, Lowery can serve students with what she calls hidden differences.  

"We provide a lot of accommodations for people with emotional and mental health needs, or some type of a learning disorder is probably most common," she says. 

A lot of the new veterans returning home from war, seeking an education, are now able to access help through her department.

Lowery says the increase is a giant step in the right direction getting students the help they not only need, but deserve.  

Students have to be qualified to be able to receive these services, but once they are, this program and all the help that comes with it is free. That includes counseling through student services. 

Lowery is also beginning to work with the Texas Workforce Commission and local employment organizations like the East Texas Center for Independent Living, to help these students transfer into successful jobs once they graduate from UT Tyler.  

For more information about the UT Tyler Student Accessibility and Resources Department, click here.
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