Berkeleyan: A newspaper for faculty and staff at UC Berkeley


Berkeleyan HomeSearch BerkeleyanBerkeleyan ArchiveUCB NewsUCB Calendar

 This Week's Stories:
Regular Features

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

New Director Has Big Plans for Disabled Students Program

by D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
posted August 26, 1998

When Ed Rogers started college in 1963, he wanted to study science or technology. Unfortunately, those majors were off-limits to students like Rogers, who is deaf.

"Back then, universities did not provide the services disabled students needed to fully participate," said Rogers.

Times have changed. Voice-activated computers, exams in Braille and sign language interpreters are just a few of the services available for Berkeley students through the Disabled Students' Program (DSP), which Rogers now manages.

Just two months in office, Rogers has already outlined an ambitious plan to streamline procedures, beef up services, increase student input and make the program more visible on campus.

"I want to build relationships with faculty, staff, departments and other campus organizations so we can create innovative opportunities for disabled students," said Rogers.

DSP was founded in 1970 by student activist Ed Roberts, a polio quadriplegic committed to helping students live independently, complete their education and lead productive lives. The program now serves more than 800 students.

Rogers and Roberts crossed paths at the California Department of Rehabilitation. Roberts was director of the program when Rogers joined the team in 1976 as a rehabilitation counselor. During the next 22 years, Rogers held a series of positions, the latest as assistant deputy director of the organization.

Because of his expertise, Rogers was asked to sit on the selection committee for Berkeley's new DSP manager. When the top candidate was unable to take the job, Rogers considered applying.

"I really enjoyed the excitement of the campus and the involvement with the faculty, staff and students on the committee," said Rogers. "I thought it might be a good move for me."

After the position was re-posted, Rogers was selected.

"I first met Ed in 1997 when the Department of Rehabilitation, DSP and I were working together to solve some very difficult programmatic and budgetary matters," said Stephanie Beardsley, director of Academic Partnership for Excellence, DSP's parent organization. "I was extremely impressed. Berkeley is really fortunate to have attracted such an outstanding manager, leader and role model."

Though Rogers may be a role model, his deafness doesn't make him better qualified for the job, he said.

"Sensitivity, knowledge and the ability to motivate others are the most important requirements for this position," said Rogers.

Rogers's accomplishments contradict what he was told as a child in the early '50s.

"When I lost my hearing at age seven, the experts told my dad I would never lead a normal life as a deaf person," said Rogers. "Luckily, he ignored their advice and encouraged me to pursue whatever my heart desired."

Although deaf awareness has increased over the last 40 years, deaf communication has become highly politicized, with various groups taking staunch positions on the use of lip reading, vocalization, sign language and hearing aids.

"Determining which communication method to use is a very individual choice and depends on the context of a particular situation," said Rogers. "It is important to respect the deaf culture but we must also be realistic and consider practical issues."


Rogers' Plans to Improve the Disabled Students Program

• Streamlining Procedures: "We'll post the application for services on our web site to alleviate the five-step paper process currently in place."

Updating Policies: "We need to re-visit our policies to make sure they address what our customers need and provide a clear focus for our program's staff."

Increasing Service to Campus: "We want to collaborate with campus departments and organizations, making DSP a resource for faculty and staff as well as Berkeley's disabled students."

[ Back to top ]


UCB Home

This site is produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs, University of California, Berkeley.
Copyright 1998, The Regents of the University of California.
For comments concerning this web service please e-mail