Disabilities program gets disabled

Rebecca Jordan

News Editor

The Disabilities Certificate is no longer available to students due to a need for professionals who have more training than the certificate could provide.

The program’s enrollment had dropped to around six students by the time the decision to deactivate it was made. “It really wasn’t sustaining itself because more students were told by employers that they needed the full degree,” said Maryanne Pepe, human services interim department chair.

Over the past few years, however, the certificate program lost its value in the eyes of employers. “What [employers] were basically saying to people was that they would really be better off with an associates degree,” said Pepe.

The former disabilities certificate allowed students who were working or were interested in working with those with disabilities in the fields of human services, education, teaching, counseling, health or business. Students were able to focus their degree on mental health, developmental disabilities, alcohol and substance abuse, educational settings or deaf culture as they chose, yet there were few enrolled in the program.

According to Pepe, the disabilities certificate program targeted people already working in the disabilities field instead of students with no experience. “The hope was that the certificate would give them a bump up in their employment status for possible new positions or promotions,” she said.

The disabilities certificate program had ties with the Early Childhood Education department. When the certificate was deactivated, Early Childhood revamped the course offerings within the old program, focusing them more on students looking to work with young, disabled children in a classroom setting. This new degree went to the curriculum committee at the end of last semester and is still in the works.
The current Human Services A.S. degree at Hudson Valley still has opportunities for those looking to go into the disabilities field. It offers a range of specific, clinical-based courses from Perspectives on Disabilities to Human Development within the Family. Both of these courses were previously part of the disabilities certificate and are still available to students.

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