1

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.


2
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


3
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.