This article originally appeared in the February 2023 edition of Inside Equal Access. 

By:  Haifa Alsaab

Sharon Sciartelli

Professor Sharon Sciartelli joined Kent State faculty 15 years ago and now she is an associate professor of Psychological Sciences in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Each semester, Dr. Sciartelli teaches General Psychology, Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology and Psychological Assessment. Her classes range between 75 and 250 students and she is particularly interested in the process of learning, which extends to her students as she helps them to improve the efficiency of their study habits both in and out of the classroom.  

Dr. Sciartelli’s interest in accessibility sparked from her work with people with disabilities prior to moving to Kent State to teach. Dr. Sciartelli is a trained clinical psychologist and she worked with children and adults with disabilities in the beginning of her career.

“Through this work I learned the meaning of accessibility and the value of accommodations.  My role in the process changed when I changed jobs, but my insights and motives did not. Now, instead of being the professional who evaluates and determines appropriate accommodations for an individual, I am a professional who provides accommodations in an academic setting.”

Accessibility is prioritized in Dr. Sciartelli’s classes. “I have students with varied accommodations in my classes every semester. It is my responsibility to stay aware of these as I prepare and deliver my lectures, assignments, and assessments.” She finds that incorporating accessibility measures in course design and delivery is getting easier each year. The changes that Kent State has made in notifying instructors about student accommodations have really helped. 

Those improvements have made the process easier to understand which then improves the academic experience for the student.  In addition, “upgrades in the university’s electronic communication systems” have made instructor-student communication about accommodations easier and more private.   

“upgrades in the university’s electronic communication systems” have made instructor-student communication about accommodations easier and more private.

Finally, Dr. Sciartelli thinks that changing the university’s learning management system to Canvas “has also made it easier for me to meet a broader range of accommodations efficiently and effectively.” 

Dr. Sciartelli said the most surprising thing she learned throughout her accessibility journey is her realization that American Sign Language is not a translation of English. “Although this seems naïve to me now, I was surprised to learn that ASL is its own language, it is not a word-for-word translation of English. I am intrigued and impressed when I have interpreters in the classroom.” 

When asked to give advice to someone just beginning to learn about accessibility. Dr. Sciartelli said that it is important that we know that we do not need to figure it out on our own. She says that “the list of possible accommodations is growing and can seem overwhelming to an instructor at first”, and her advice is to use are the many helpful staff and other resources available at KSU. 

In her days off, Dr. Sciartelli likes to go hiking with family at one of the beautiful city, county, state, or national parks.