Why Colleges Need a Top-Down Approach to Accessibility

Why Colleges Need a Top-Down Approach to Accessibility

August 16, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


KOREY SINGLETON: There needs to be a top-down
approach to this. It needs to come
from the provost, out of the office of the
provost so that it carries some weight for what
people are going to need to do in the classroom. And so I had a meeting with
the VP of the compliance, diversity, and ethics office set
up a meeting with the provost, and the provost agreed
to basically send out that letter, which highlighted
these are the units you need to talk to,
and this is what we’re going to ask that you do. And it was nice,
because it went out at the beginning of the year
when faculty members are receiving all kinds of
communications at that time, but they will look at
things that come out of the provost’s office. So that kind of gave
us a leg up in terms of saying, when we
went to academic units, when we went to work with
other partnering units to say, this is the top-down approach
that’s being supported. So let’s kind of start
our discussion from there. Another thing that happened
was our VP organized a meeting with the deans and
directors, and from there, one of the issues that was
identified from the committee was there are situations at
times where a student was not provided with the
accommodations that they needed, or the accommodations
weren’t as effective for one reason or another, but that the
faculty member hadn’t done what they needed to do,
or information hadn’t been communicated properly. And for that reason, if you go
to the academic unit and say, I need to do this, or they
go to the faculty member and say, I need you to convert
your Word documents into this, or add descriptions to your
images and blah, blah, blah, and the faculty members
say no, then you kind of had no recourse. Where did you go? If you would go to the chair,
and the chair said no, then OK, where do I go next? And if you go through the
assistant dean or the dean or whatever, part of
that is you risk– people were kind of apprehensive
about doing it, because one, you really
start to place a microscope on that student, and
the student doesn’t want any kind of retaliation
from the faculty member for that kind of pushback. The deans and the
chairs– I mean, there are different priorities. So I may be coming to
them about accessibility, but they may have
a nine to five job, which says that I’m an adjunct. I’m only getting $1,500
for this entire semester. It’s difficult for me to
do all this stuff, so no, I’m not going to do it. And so we needed a way to kind
of remediate that problem, and so what we did was we went
to the deans and directors, and said we need a person who–
an individual for each school or college who is in
a leadership role, who essentially is a the buck
stops with this kind of person. And so in many cases, it was
either the dean themselves or an associate dean,
who was identified as having some authority so
that if we went into a situation where we weren’t able to work
out things with the faculty member or with the
department chair, we could go and work
with someone specifically in that college or school to
say, this is what’s going on, can you help us remediate
it, without having to go all the way up to
the office of the provost to fix those issues.