Disability compliance efforts showcase institutional wealth gap
- The Chronicle reports on efforts at colleges and universities to meet the needs of students with physical disabilities or mental health diagnoses in efforts to build a more inclusive campus, but highlights the persistent challenges for institutions with lower resources in capital funding.
- Elite institutions, like the University of Virginia, are able to remodel or to build new facilities to meet standards of intelligent design, or to designated space for students requiring animals to aid in mental health treatment. But other campuses find challenges in scheduling classes and making campus spaces more inclusive for students with challenges for access or unique support methods.
- Concern about lawsuits or the potential of student suicide has many officials worried about if their campuses can move fast enough to meet the legal standards for compliance and the ethical standards of support.
Since ADA became law in 1990 and updated its guidance in 2010 to reflect requirements for new construction, access and safe travel, colleges and universities have at least been able to build or modify some spaces for living and learning that meet federal standards. But in the effort to move from special to universal access, those campuses facing budget challenges are having a much more difficult time and moving at a slower pace.
The key for institutions with smaller budgets is to ensure that transparency is at the top of the list of priorities in communicating with students and faculty about physical plant changes, or policy changes on mental health support allowances, such as support animals, test taking accommodations and other considerations. Providing insight about ADA law — and budgetary concerns about expanding compliance throughout a campus — can make a lot of difference in building morale and preventing a lawsuit.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education College facilities evolve from accommodation to inclusivity
- The Chronicle of Higher Education As standards change, disabilities officers race to keep up