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Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS)

Identifier: BC05-14


This collection consists of materials from the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS) as well as materials from the same office under the previous names, the Office for Disabled Students (1978-1988) and the Office of Disability Services (1989 -2018/2019) approximately. The CARDS collection includes a copy of the grant proposal to increase Barnard College's physically accessibility, promotional materials for the Office of Disability Services and Office of Disabled Students, co-sponsored event flyers for events like the Blood Drive, Women and Disability Film Festival, and Disabled Student Affinity Meet-Up groups. The collection also includes administrative documents like guidelines for accessibility at Barnard’s campus, CARDS specific administrative guidelines, procedures, and forms for services offered to students.


  • Creation: 1979 - 2023

Publication Rights

Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Barnard College Archives. The Barnard College Archives approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Historical Summary

The Office of Disabled Students (ODS) partly stemmed from a committee appointed by Barnard President Jacquelyn Mattfield in 1977, the Committee to Meet the Needs of the Disabled (CMND).CMND transformed the administration’s understanding of Disabled students’ needs from a case by case basis to institutional-wide awareness and action. The committee was created well before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) which prohibited discrimination based on disability.

In July 1978,The Office for Disabled Students (ODS) was created. Julie V. Marsteller, who at the time was named Assistant Dean for Disabled Students, was a major impetus for the office’s creation. Julie V. Marsteller was also the first archivist at Barnard working from 1969 to 1977, a 1966 Barnard alum, and an electric wheelchair user. She became the first ever Dean of Disabled Students at Barnard, advocating for infrastructural changes as well as policy adjustments that would better serve Disabled students on campus. She stated that the office was created to “make Barnard the best possible place for academically able, physically disabled women.” In ODS, Marsteller was accompanied by only one other staff member, Frances V. Dillon, known on campus as Fran Dillon, who was the Director of the ‘Teachers College Project for Handicapped College Students’ which served 80 institutions within 50 miles of New York City. Teachers College and Barnard are separate institutions, so at Columbia University and its affiliate schools, Marsteller and Dillon were the only staff with these roles who often operated jointly in the Office of Disabled Students.

ODS coordinated the academic, recreational, and financial aid resources for Disabled students at Barnard, acting as a liaison between the staff and students. ODS also worked in tandem with the Committee to Meet the Needs of the Disabled to reduce physical inaccessibility on Barnard’s campus. The office was also dedicated to promoting that a college was an appropriate place for a Disabled person to be. At the time, many ODS aimed to show Barnard students, staff, and the nation that it was achievable to create an accessible environment for Disabled students on their respective college campuses.

In May 1979, CMND and ODS, led by Julie V. Marsteller and Frances V. Dillon, were awarded a $505,200 grant from The Max. C. Fleischmann Foundation to ensure accessibility in campus buildings, programs, and services; construction to modify the campus happened from 1980-1982. The Faculty Committee to Meet the Needs of the Disabled oversaw the construction. Members on the committee when construction started included Julie V. Marsteller, Amy D. Barnes, Rosemarie Deckerman, Frances DIllon, Kim Healey, Denise Kaiser, Anya Luchow, Christine Royer, Virginia Shaw, Joseph Tolliver, Elena Alvarex, Kathy Monroe, Marsha Riggs, and Julia Sear.

The 504/ADA Access Committee started in response to the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring public schools to provide access to students with disabilities. The 504 Access committee was led by Julie Marsteller, Chris Baswell, Bill Brown, Liz Davis, Georgie Gatch, Lydia Lenaghan, Jim Metalios, Susan Quinby, Eliza Rubin, and Jane Thierfeld. In 1985, they distributed a survey to staff, faculty, and students to determine if Barnard met the needs and rights of Disabled people.

The Office of Disabled Students continued to thrive, sponsoring events like the Women and Disability Film Festival and the First Barnard Blood Drive, creating resources for Disabled students and Barnard staff on Disability, and fostering spaces for Disabled students to build community. In 1988, The Office of Disabled Students changed their name to the Office of Disability Services and continued offering the same resources. In 1991, Susan Quinby became the director of the Office of Disability Services, having worked with the office for many years.

In 2019, the Office of Disability Services changed their name to the Center for Accessibility Resources and Disability Services (CARDS).


1.25 Linear Feet (two document boxes, 1 half document box)

.2 Gigabytes



Phsical Location

This collection is located in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, Barnard Library. To use this collection, please contact the Barnard Archives and Special Collections at 212.854.4079 or

Acquisition Information

Materials transferred to the Archives by CARDS staff, 2019, 2022. The acquisition date and source of some materials is unknown.

Processing Information

All of the work describing and processing this collection is informed by the activism of individuals involved with the Disability Justice movement and the extensive work of archival thinkers like Gracen Brilmyer and Sara White on Disability in archivists. Archivists considered the 10 tenets of Disability Justice created by Sins Invalid, highlighting intersectionality, collective access, collective liberation, and recognizing wholeness, were considered when processing. Archivists also used the conceptual framework Gracen Brilymer coined; a critical disability archival methodology which attacks the absence of Disabled People within the archive, ie: when researchers desire to research disability and nothing shows up, as well as when researchers encounter Disabled People within the archive, the descriptive language and arrangement denies their personhood and agency (Brilmyer 27-29).

The language used in the collection’s description was informed by Disabled activists’ social media, CARDS staff, and other research on preferred language from the community whose records we hope provide equitable access to. We also worked with staff of the CARDS office, Olivia Newsome, our Disabled processing archivist, staff of other repositories that contain similar materials, and CARDS students in making all subject heading decisions.

Note on Language

Language in this collection description about Disability, whenever possible, uses terminology the subject describes themselves with. We understand the power of naming and the hurt of offensive language; maintaining offensive language only further marginalizes and denies agency of those described. The CARDS collection uses contemporary terminology. However, since acceptable terminology shifts over time, some of the materials contain language that is outdated and offensive. All of the materials with outdated language are available for use and are part of Disability histories providing insight into changing perception, treatment, and the powerful activism from within Disabled communities. Please be aware that the contents of CARDS records may include sanist/ableist language, as well as endorse a Medical Model of Disability.

  • Records including CARDS student names, resumes, medical records, or college identification numbers were removed. A BSAC 2019 meeting agenda was also removed because of its existence in other collections and not relating to CARDS.
Guide to the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS) Records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections Repository

3009 Broadway
New York NY 10027 United States