Student Accessibility Services welcomes new director


Prior to beginning his work at Trinity this September, Spencer Scruggs, director of Student Accessibility Services, worked in the Office of Student Accessibility at Floria State University for six years in a variety of roles. Photo provided by Spencer Scruggs. Photo credit: Nadia Crawford

photo by Nadia Crawford

At a time when daily life involves a variety of complications and stressors unknown to students before the virus, access to support for academic pursuits is needed more than ever, especially for those with mental and physical disabilities. Trinity’s new director of Student Accessibility Services (SAS), Spencer Scruggs, is prepared to offer that support.

“I would say our office really does its due diligence in going beyond accommodations. It’s so much more than just accommodations — it’s working with faculty to help them understand different ways to make their classes accessible,” said Scruggs. “It is listening to faculty on creating classroom environments and learning situations that are accessible to all students.”

In September, the SAS Office announced the hiring of Scruggs, who will oversee the office’s operations and work to build a learning environment in which all students can succeed.

Scruggs began his career at Florida State University, where he graduated with a Master’s in Higher Education Administration. After taking on various roles at the Office of Student Accessibility there, Scruggs began seeking positions elsewhere. When the director of Student Accessibility Services position opened up at Trinity, it was an ideal opportunity for him.

“I did the graduate assistantship and then a full-time position opened in the office, so I took that full-time position, and essentially six years later, this position opened up [at Trinity]. I just felt like I was ready for that next step. When I applied and started interviewing, it just was the perfect fit,” said Scruggs.

While Student Accessibility Services typically navigate the legal requirements for accommodations set by the government, the Trinity SAS staff seeks to go beyond these requirements and provide comprehensive support for students.

“We try to approach it from a very strengths-based approach: a disability is not a deficit; it’s not something that needs to be fixed. It’s something that we recognize as something that can be a strength. It is just a different way of engaging with information and with the campus,” said Scruggs.

According to Betty Curry, director of Academic Support, the director of Student Accessibility Services is responsible for providing expertise in the legal and educational aspects as well as ensuring that operations run smoothly.

“[The director] is the subject matter expert on what the law requires, what is current and best practices in the field, and supervises the staff, and manages the budget,” said Curry.

While many hold a narrow definition of the term ‘disability,’ Scruggs seeks to bring awareness to the fact that disabilities exceed such constructs and instead encapsulate a variety of conditions.

“It’s fairly broad, but it’s very overarching how disability is defined. It’s really anything that can cause an impairment to a major life activity. That could be studying, it could be living on campus, it could be dining on campus — all of those different things can be considered. It opens consideration for things that we might traditionally not think of when we see the word ‘disability,” Scruggs said, “Something like ADHD, or allergies, or a chronic health condition, or mental health concerns — all of those generally comprise what we call a disability.”

Traditionally, students receive accommodations by submitting the required forms directly to the SAS Office. In order to streamline this process, the office has launched a new service, AIM, which allows students to reach out to SAS and access their records online.

“[This platform] greatly improves students’ access to their records and streamlines their process for applying, and also provides better access for our faculty members to see their students’ accommodations. We have been very available and very committed to meeting students and being responsive to them. This is just a new tool that is going to help us do that even better,” Curry said.

While AIM allows students with documentation to access SAS services more easily, Scruggs emphasized the fact that all students are welcome to consult the office and to explore different ways of succeeding at Trinity — regardless of their documented health conditions.

“We do understand that sometimes students come to Trinity and they may not have documentation, they may not have experience with accommodations in high school, they may not know where to go, and they are not sure if they want to fill out the application. Our office is very adamant about meeting those students’ needs as well. Students can reach out to us by email and simply ask questions — it’s no commitment or anything of that nature. There’s no one right way to get connected with us,” Scruggs said.