RU–N Welcomes Allen Sheffield as Its New Director of Disability Services
On July 31, 2017, Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) welcomed its new director of disability services, Allen Sheffield. Sheffield joined RU-N from Temple University, where he served as the coordinator for disability resources and services for the past five years. Prior to Temple, Sheffield worked at Oklahoma State University (OSU) for three years as a disability specialist.
Fluent in American Sign Language, Sheffield earned a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
“I’m excited to be at Rutgers University–Newark and looking forward to improving the college experience for students with disabilities,” stated Sheffield. “During my undergraduate years, I struggled with the challenges of being hard of hearing and the stigma of having a disability,” he shared. “As director of disability services, it is my goal to increase awareness of the many opportunities and resources for students with disabilities, work to address the stigma that exists related to disability, and create a more inclusive environment.”
According to Sheffield, ability is on a spectrum, and as we endeavor to improve accessibility, we improve conditions for all individuals. For example, after introducing movie captioning at OSU, Sheffield noticed a marked increase in the number of international students in the viewing audience. “A small change like captioning enhanced the college experience considerably for an underserved population who now could partake in a recreational activity where admission was free and popcorn cost 50 cents,” Sheffield smiled.
He further notes that most people either have a disability, know someone who has a disability, or may potentially gain a disability at some point throughout their lives. So the services offered by RU-N’s Office of Disability Services benefit all. Through the Office of Disability Services students can receive help with addressing barriers that may exist, whether in or out of the classroom. For example, assistance with testing, note-taking, housing, and technology are all potential areas that can be accommodated.
“We are delighted to have Allen leading the efforts of RU-N’s Office of Disability Services,” said Corlisse Thomas, vice chancellor for student affairs, to whom Sheffield reports. “His many years in higher education working for access and inclusion for all students will fare the entire RU-N community well.”
Sheffield has embarked on a listening tour with the various stakeholders and constituents of RU-N to ascertain the needs of the community. He has an open-door policy and welcomes all suggestions. His office is located in the Paul Robeson Campus Center and his email address is email@example.com.