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SNAPS in the Press

Yale University Resource Office on Disabilities


Special Needs Awareness and Peer Services (SNAPS) is an undergraduate disability awareness group designed to cater to the day-to-day needs of students at Yale who are permanently or temporarily disabled, injured, or chronically ill. We coordinate our activities with the Resource Office on Disabilities at Yale and aim to function as their “non-academic” counterpart. The office accommodates student disabilities by providing academic resources such as adaptive computer technology, Braille, books on tape, readers, scribes, visual interpreters, special transportation services, etc. Experience shows that these students have other needs as well. Most require help with daily chores and need much assistance in non-academic areas. It is SNAPS' mission to make sure these needs are met.

SNAPS aims to provide services and support for all (on-campus) undergraduate and graduate students with special needs (special needs are defined as the needs of people with temporary/permanent injuries or disabilities or chronic illness) which are not covered by the Resource Office on Disabilities. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Assisting students with special needs with their daily chores, which they cannot do on their own due to their disability, or can only do with difficulty.

2. Providing a peer support group or a forum for students with special needs to discuss issues of concern with other like students. Volunteers from SNAPS serve as peer counselors or confidants to students with special needs.

3. Raising public awareness about the issues faced by people with special needs via talks, exhibitions, talent shows, and other public events.

4. Discuss issues regarding Yale's academic policy or policy towards people with disabilities. The issues, if necessary, are further discussed with the Yale administration for revision or enactment of the specific policy.

The primary goal of SNAPS is to reiterate the fact that we may be disabled in function but certainly not in spirit.


Temporary injuries are the most prevalent form of disability on campus. Many students in this category need additional assistance to acclimate to such situations. Healthy students, when faced with an injury and when prescribed wheelchair use for a few months, often realize that they have no arm-strength to wheel themselves. Simple activities like wheeling to and back from class, busing a tray in the dining hall, obtaining/returning library books, doing laundry, and buying groceries become almost impossible on crutches or on a wheelchair. The other difficulty that students with disabilities encounter is the unavailability of the Special Services Vans on weekends: the vans run only on weekdays and after 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Most students leave their off-campus chores for the weekends: grocery shopping at Shaw’s is a classic example. But suffice it to say, their weekend-needs are not just non-academic. Students with disabilities involved in research mostly work on weekends in their labs on Science Hill and need to avail resources in Medical & Divinity School Libraries. It is also a part of SNAPS mission to provide transportation services when the Special Services Vans do not run.

Finally, it is especially difficult for students with disabilities or chronic illness to draw a balance between their physical challenges and their academic goals. SNAPS will serve as a peer support network to help them meet the physical and academic demands set on them.

Our mission is fourfold:

  • Provide special services (do chores, e.g. check out/return books from and to the libraries, wheel students to and from class, provide escorts on weekends to visually impaired and other students, provide assistance to students during their post-surgical visits to the doctor, etc.)
  • Create a peer support network
  • Examine University policies and compare them with other academic institutions
  • Arrange open houses and teach-ins to foster disability awareness on campus

As mentioned earlier, SNAPS coordinates with the Resource Office on Disabilities at Yale under the supervision of its director, Ms. Judith York. Whenever a help request comes from a registered student with special needs, the Resource Office relays the request to SNAPS and a volunteer is dispatched to help the student in need. We work diligently to ensure that no request remains un-accommodated.


The above text was originally written by Sabrina Sadique ’04, additions by Edward Kwok ’03, edited by Matan Aryeh Koch '02.  Slight alterations completed by Evan Ortiz ’09.