The disability education field continues to evolve as faculty and staff help students with disabilities. For ASU’s downtown Disability Resource Director Deborah Taska, helping these students is her passion.
Deborah Taska is celebrating her five-year tenure as director of ASU’s Disability Resource Center in downtown Phoenix. Taska organizes events and makes sure students get the right accommodations for their classes. Accommodations include extended time on tests and assigned note takers for classes, but Taska goes further. She focuses on the future state of students with disabilities.
“It’s my job to think outside the box,” Taska said. “Students become the strongest advocates with faculty, creating a great partnership.”
When the downtown campus opened in 2006, Taska became the director of their disability center. When the center opened, 99 students registered with accommodations. Today, 467 students are currently registered with the downtown campus’s center. As excited Taska is about the development, she’s even more pleased when these students can succeed without accommodations.
“There are a number of students that don’t always need accommodations,” Taska said. “They can select faculty and classes that can appeal to their style. It comes down to each semester.”
Taska’s journey did not begin with working in disability education. She graduated from Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University with a degree in elementary education. But her path didn’t start off quite the way she hoped.
“My first assignment was a boarding school for students with parents serving in Vietnam, and that planted the seed for me,” Taska said. “I then took a job at a high school for students with learning disabilities, and I met creative, diverse, confident kids.”
That job inspired her to go back to college. Taska got her master’s degree in higher learning and specific learning disabilities from Southern Illinois University. Her degree brought her to ASU in 1985, where she was the Program Coordinator for the Tempe Campus.
She developed and provided programs to help faculty with students. Taska’s performance led her to taking charge at the downtown Phoenix campus in 2006.
Lance Harrop, the assistant director of the DRC, mostly works with students on a day-to-day basis, but he credits Taska for making his job easier. Their partnership makes the working environment better for both co-workers and students.
Taska greets her students with a warm smile and takes the time to get to know each registered student. She asks each one how they are doing personally and academically.
Taska wants more students to take charge, create events, and to join the fledgling Ability Counts Downtown group. Their established groups in the Tempe and West campuses promote disability awareness to their campuses and communities, and the downtown branch is trying accomplish the same goal. Their president, Elizabeth Vaughn, believes the DRC has done everything it can to help. But Vaughn, a junior studying social work, knows it isn’t easy.
“Ability Counts Downtown is going slowly, not much further than last year,” Vaughn said. “They want to get it further, but students don’t seem to want to do anything with it.”
Taska understands it’s difficult to form a group when students are focused on other interests, but she continues supporting the group as is grows.
“Deb is amazing not only personally, but she exemplifies what all collegiate staff should be,” Harrop said. “She makes it easier because she’s so good at what she does, ensuring students success, access and accommodations.”
Students registered with the downtown campus agree with Harrop. Vaughn believes Taska does a great job helping her at ASU.
“Awareness is a constant thing that needs to improve,” Vaughn said. “She does it well and helps me with networking in different disability areas.”
Taska created a strong partnership between students with disabilities and their professors. Under her guidance, downtown students with disabilities have the means to succeed. Thanks to her leadership, the DRC is showing no signs of slowing down.
Bike Chic is a new DPJ series by Fashion intern, Cortney Kaminski. Each week she will be scouting locals who not only ride their bikes but look dapper doing it.
Occupation: Student at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University
His Neighborhood: Tempe
Where spotted: Central Avenue and Van Buren Street, Downtown
What do you enjoy about Downtown? It has a city feel without the feel of a rat race.
Where do you like to explore? I like to go to the Crescent Ballroom pretty often, and of course I go to class on the Downtown campus.
What is your biggest reason for riding your bike around rather than a car? Gas. Gas is way too expensive.
How do you balance looking nice with riding a bike? I don’t really force anything, I just kinda put things on and go.
What he’s wearing:
• Ezekiel shirt
• Levi jeans
• Keds shoes
• Ray-Ban sunglasses
His biking essential:
• Headphones and iPod
• 1985 Peugeot bicycle
Bike Chic is a new DPJ series by Fashion interns, Cortney Kaminski and Thuy An Bui. Each week they will be scouting locals who not only ride their bikes but look dapper doing it.
Occupation: Journalism Student
Her Neighborhood: Downtown Phoenix
Where Spotted: Biking to church on Taylor Street
What do you enjoy about downtown? I like that it is close to my campus and that anywhere that I want to go to I can go by bike.
Where do you like to explore? I typically head north to try the unique restaurants. I like going to the Phoenix Public Library and the park over there; a lot of times I will ride on the bike path around there.
What is your typical biking ensemble? Most of the time I wear shorts or pants and a cute top and some flats, but days where I have to wear wedges or heel I just bring them to change into.
What she’s wearing:
• Target dress
• Lauren Conrad wedges
• Express purse
Her biking essentials:
• Over the shoulder bag to keep her hands free
• Gunmetal gray Mongoose (borrowed from her brother)
(From the Wire includes press releases received from reliable sources that help tell the story of the many happenings in Greater Downtown Phoenix. Yep, they are ripped from our inbox.)
Join Edible Phoenix and the ASU School of Nutrition and Health Promotion on Saturday, January 21 for the webcast from New York, meet local food organizations and sample local refreshments. (Come all day or join us when you can).
More info and reservations at www.EatPHX.eventbrite.com.
For the full program see www.TedxManhattan.org.
Participating non-profits include Community Food Connections, Devour, Ignite Food, Local First Arizona, and Slow Food Phoenix.
Many thanks to Palette, Phoenix Public Market, Poppa Maize and Scramble for supplying refreshments.
The ASU Downtown Phoenix Arts Expo is a chance to promote your arts business to several thousand ASU students on Taylor Mall, Tuesday, January 24 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tables are free, and electricity outlets will be available. Tents are prohibited and you cannot have amplified sound. Bring season brochures, and, if appropriate, you can have a video monitor displaying past performances, performance art, etc.
Only a few tables remain. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your space.