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The Cowell Residence Program
University of California, Berkeley
The Cowell Program is designed to provide living quarters and the necessary services to severely disabled students attending
the University. The Cowell Program is the only one of its kind in the nation. What makes it unique is the innovative and comprehensive
nature of the services provided. These services are designed, specifically for severely physically disabled. students pursuing
academic and vocational goals.
The Program is intended primarily for quadriplegics. A quadriplegic (commonly termed "quad") is a person who is disabled due
to paralysis affecting all four limbs. Most of the Cowell students were paralyzed as a result of a spinal cord injury.
A quadriplegic, because of the nature of his disability is faced with overcoming some unique problems in seeking a higher
education. He requires the help of a personal attendant for bathing, dressing, and other personal needs. Transportation is
a problem because a quadriplegic needs assistance getting into and out of an automobile. Because a quad has limited use of
his arms, it is difficult to propel his own wheelchair for long distances. To maintain good physical health a quad must learned
techniques of preventive memdicine which he can apply in daily living.
The Cowell Program has proven very successful in overcomig problems faced by the severely disabled who seek a higher education.
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The need for personal attendants is filled by non-disabled students who seek part-time work. Transportation problems are answered
by the location of the hospital on campus and use of electrically powered wheelchairs. A group of professionals in the field
of rehabilitation, including a psychiatrist, a urologist, a physical therapist and a rehab nurse work with the students on
a regular basis. These professionals are all trained and experienced in the application of preventive medicine as it pertains
to maintaining good health and avoiding the usual complications connected with severe disabilities. Counseling and tutoring
services are available through the University and the State Department of Rehabilitation.
One of the most important aspects of the Cowell Program is the learning process apart from the academic level which takes
place as a result of the group living situation. This process involves the exchange of knowledge and experienc e in the group.
A quad who has been paralyzed for a long time has developed many techniques which allow him to use the physical abilities
he has to the fullest potential in caring for his own personal needs. Also, those recently disabled have equally valuable
knowledge of newer techniques. of self-care learned during their post-injury stay in a rehabilitation hospital. Each student
in the program is able to watch others and learn to do things which he had perhaps imagined impossible with his disability—from
taking his own notes in lecture to emptying
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his own urinal. This lessens his feeling of dependence and encourages him to re-evaluate his capabilities.
The combined services at Cowell offer a very necessary and valuable period of transition which helps to overcome the physical
and psychological dependence resulting from an institutional or sheltered home environment. After a stay of approximately
two years at Cowell the disabled student is ready to move into an apartment or house in the campus community. An independent
living situation is necessary for a severely disabled person who is planning to secure employment.
The Cowell Program has proven its value in answering the problems faced by the severely disabled seeking a higher education
and financial self-sufficiency as a means toward their ultimate goal of independence. Two persons who have achieved their
academic goals through the Cowell Program are now employed; one earning more than $10,000 per year, the other earning more
than $8,000. There are currently six students who, with the preparation provided by the Cowell Program are living in the campus
community and proceeding with their academic program. Major fields of sutdy of students in the Cowell Program include Law,
Business Administration, Computer Science, Political Science, Psychology, Social Science, History, English, and Philosophy.
Students from eleven different counties in the state of California are or have been members of the Cowell Program.
Funds for the Cowell Program come from the State Department of Rehabilitation. Mr. Gerald Belchick, a counselor from the Oakland
office who works with most of the physically disabled students on the campus is in charge of administering these funds. He
works closely with the students and staff in the program.