Strengthening Competencies for Disability Service Providers with NDC’s New Specialized Certificate Program

Published on September 28, 2023

A row of diverse students sits at desks and they are smiling.

Disability Services Professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring equal access to education and opportunities for deaf students. Deaf students benefit greatly when they receive support from qualified and experienced staff and access providers who are consistently available (Cawthon et al. 2013). However, the staffing structure of disability services offices can vary widely. While disability service providers coordinate access service providers such as interpreters and speech-to-text captionists, very few schools have dedicated staff with a background in deaf services or that are dedicated to deaf students.

“Disability services offices are often the gatekeepers of engagement for deaf students. Decisions made in this office, and by campus administrators, can create barriers or open doors on campus”.

Garberoglio, C. L., Palmer, J. L., Ivanko, T.-N., Kinast, L., & Zito, S. (2022). Supporting deaf college students: Perspectives from disability services professionals. National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, The University of Texas at Austin.

In order to enhance both individual and institutional preparedness, and to cultivate an inclusive college environment for deaf students, NDC has developed the Accessibility Practices Certificate (APC). This specialized certificate is tailored for disability services providers engaged with deaf students, equipping them with readily accessible knowledge, tools, and resources.

Accessibility Practices Certificate: Nurtures Expertise

If you are a dedicated disability services provider committed to creating a more inclusive educational experience for deaf students, the APC is your gateway to building your expertise. By participating in this specialty certificate opportunity, you will increase your knowledge of deaf people, awareness of structural inequities, and accessibility practices that center the deaf persons experience. Upon completion of this program, participants will be able to evaluate current practices, improve existing practices, and/or establish new practices using a systems lens and an equity framework.

Cultivating an Inclusive Community on Campus

The Accessibility Practices Certificate (APC) for disability services providers emphasizes the importance of cultivating a supportive and inclusive learning environment. Participants will strengthen their understanding of the impact of root causes and systemic barriers on enrollment, persistence, and completion of postsecondary outcomes for deaf people. By understanding the unique challenges faced by deaf students, providers can examine existing practices and advocate for sustainable changes that will have a positive impact on academic outcomes and well being of deaf students.

Why Pursue A Specialized Certificate?

By Joining the APC program, you will enjoy:

  • Flexible learning opportunities, 
  • Access expert guidance, gain practical insights, and 
  • Expand your professional network.
Participating in the certificate track is an opportunity to: 
  • Build your personal capacity to serve deaf students and gradually learn how to examine foundational inequities and operations within systems (policies and practices),
  • Identify problem areas and plan for sustainable improvements, and
  • Implement evidence-based practices and strategies.
Afro American woman learning and communicating in sign language online while sitting near window

All in a manner that centers the experiences of deaf students.

Additional benefits include:

  • Ability to earn open badges that are verifiable, stackable, and portable to document your  continuing education and ongoing professional development.
  • Opportunities for professional networking and engagements.
  • Membership into a community of practitioners committed to working towards equity with a systems lens.
A circle logo with the text "Accessibility Practices for Deaf Students" and the acronym "NDC".

Obtaining this specialized certificate also enhances their career prospects. As educational institutions and employers recognize the value of specialized skills, certified providers are better positioned to secure fulfilling roles and contribute significantly to the success of deaf students.

Through this specialized certificate, you will become part of a nationwide effort to promote inclusive education and support for deaf college students. Commit to building a barrier-free future where all students can thrive and reach their full potential.

What’s the Commitment?

The Accessibility Practices Certificate track requires just 35 total clock hours for completion. 

The APC program is comprised of  the following:

  • (5)   1-hour Foundation Modules
  • (10) 1-hour Content Modules
  • (5)   1-hour Self-Selected Elective Modules
  • (1)   15-hour Facilitated Course

To view the required modules, visit

The best part is you may already be on your way. If you have already started to take online modules, you just need to “opt-in.” There are no prerequisites or special registration requirements to join the program. To learn how to opt-in, please visit how to opt-in for the Certificate Program and Navigate Pathways or watch our video here on how to get started!

Whether you choose to take these courses individually or collectively through the Accessibility Practices Certificate (APC), join the ranks of other passionate professionals making a difference in the lives of deaf students while building a network of like-minded disability services professionals!

Visit our website or contact us at [email protected] to learn more and secure your place in this transformative learning journey.
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