Otterbein Disability Services Consultant Working to End Stigma for Better Student Access
Posted Sep 03, 2021
By: Catie Duzzny
“The concepts and philosophies of disability as a social experience have shown that this is not just a medical diagnosis, but something that impacts lives every day. Part of my responsibility is removing societal barriers in order to create access for students,” said Andrew Sydlik, accessibility consultant for the disability services office at Otterbein University.
Sydlik is legally blind, so his personal experiences have helped inform his advocacy and ambition to learn more about disability studies. Throughout his time researching, he has been able to learn more about himself and how he could help others that face challenges.
“I grew up in an environment where we did not talk about disability, it was seen as a stigmatized taboo thing,” said Sydlik.
Much of his work is helping end those stigmas, talk about mental health issues, discuss disabilities, and help those in our community.
Sydlik has his bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in English language and literature. After some time, he went back to school at The Ohio State University to earn his Ph.D. in English literature and disability studies. His dissertation was on the interdependence of medical and moral models of disability in 19th century American literature.
“My interest in learning about disability studies is what prompted me to go back to school. I wanted to explore more and learn more about myself in the process. This drives my work here in the Disability Services office, wanting to help younger people with disabilities and any accommodations a student may need,” said Sydlik.
Part of his role at Otterbein includes helping students register with Disability Services and set up any accommodation they need, and then helping students work through any twists and turns they may face.
“I’d like students to think about any of any of these services as another tool that you can put in your tool-kit along with study guides and test taking strategies; these things are here for you to use for academic success,” stated Sydlik.
Outside of Otterbein, Sydlik has his own podcast called Freaks & Psychos: The Disability in Horror Podcast, which brings his knowledge of disability studies to representations and themes of disability in the popular horror genre.
His podcast has allowed him to incorporate academic concepts into a non-academic audience: horror fans. So far, his audiences are very receptive and has listeners in 27 countries and 45 U.S. states
The Disabilities Services office and Academic Support Center offer a number of different accommodations and resources for both students and faculty. For more information, contact email@example.com .