Oberlin Blogs

Ode to ODA

April 2, 2023

Kate Magnacca ’26

The end of the year is fast approaching-- we’re past spring break, the weather’s warming up, finals are looming nearer and nearer, and anticipation is in the air. This time of year always prompts some reflecting for me, both on previous months and on what the summer will hold. This year, a new commonality between these arose: the essential role of Oberlin’s Office of Disability and Access (otherwise known as ODA) in helping me navigate both.

As soon as I committed to Oberlin, I worked with my high school guidance counselor to send over all of my documentation to the disability office. Having accommodations was crucial for my ability to succeed in high school, so we wanted to make sure I would have that support going into college as well. I hadn’t heard much about how these things work in college, so I was a little wary of ODA at first. In previous years, I had a fair amount of less than ideal experiences with high school resources (or a lack thereof) and accessibility.

Once my counselor sent in the documents, I was contacted by ODA. I had an initial meeting with them over Zoom to be registered as a student with disability accommodations, go over the accommodations I needed, and how to use them. This initial meeting is required for anyone applying for accommodations. I know this step may be a little intimidating for some (it was for me at first) but the meeting is really relaxed. I was very pleasantly surprised by how kind and helpful they were.

When I got to campus and classes started, ODA checked in again to help notify my professors of my accommodations. You can choose what classes you want to request them for, and the instructors don’t get any disability information aside from what you’re asking them to do. This is nice, because it’s set up very mindfully in regards to allowing you to keep your information private. 

As the year’s gone on, and I’ve adjusted to life here, I’ve had some more interactions with ODA-- including one I’ve already written about here. I recently ended up applying for a single room, because I’ve learned through experience that rooming with strangers doesn’t interact too well with my anxiety. ODA was amazing and made it a very smooth process.

More recently, they’ve been helping me out with accommodations for the summer. I was offered an internship that included housing at another university, where they had a preference for no emotional support animals for short-term summer guests. This was a bit of a problem for me, because as exciting as the opportunity was, I knew I couldn’t do it without my ESA. Upon receiving the offer, I left class in a hurry and practically ran to Mudd Library, where I burst into the ODA office and explained the predicament. The staff was incredibly supportive, and jumped into action immediately. They took over in advocating for me and made sure I got the accommodation I needed. I truly can’t say enough how much they helped-- if not for them, I wouldn’t have known what to do at all, and I couldn’t have taken the internship. Not only did they go above and beyond to get the accommodation approved through the other university’s housing, they even looked into alternative housing options as back-ups, and made sure the whole situation wasn’t too stressful for me.

All this to say, ODA has been completely vital to me so far. Through my experiences with them, I’ve learned they’re an amazing resource that I can really trust and rely on. I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of this campus resource if it’s relevant to you.

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