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9 things to know about ADA compliance on campus

University Business, July 2016
Although some professors prohibit the use of laptops during class because of the distraction factor, laptop use for note-taking is one accommodation colleges may offer students, such as those with a mobility impairment. (Photo: Marist College)
Although some professors prohibit the use of laptops during class because of the distraction factor, laptop use for note-taking is one accommodation colleges may offer students, such as those with a mobility impairment. (Photo: Marist College)
  1. ADA awareness training should be mandatory and ongoing across all departments. If students come to a staff member requesting an accommodation, they should be referred to the disabilities services office, which will help ensure consistency and fairness. 
  2. Campuses see a range of disabilities that must be covered, from mental and emotional (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, etc.) to physical (asthma, cystic fibrosis, cancer, Type 1 diabetes, allergies, celiac disease, traumatic brain injury, etc.).
  3. Anxiety is one of the most frequently reported disabilities, but also widely misunderstood. Many faculty members balk at some accommodations, which suggests a need for more staff training.
  4. Devices such as door buttons, elevators and ramps must be checked regularly to ensure they are working and that access is not blocked by weather conditions, trash cans or other materials.
  5. Disabilities service staff should provide a written “individual services and accommodations” form that students can use to gain an accommodation from the appropriate staff member—for example, a professor, coach, internship supervisor, resident assistant or food services manager.
  6. Students with disabilities can be included in study abroad programs with creativity and a commitment to problem-solving on the part of their home institutions, even though other countries lack the ADA provisions. (Michigan State University, for one, seeks grants to pay for any added expense, works with its alumni network and proactively lines up a support network at the foreign host school.) 
  7. Cost cannot be used as an excuse to deny a needed accommodation, but reasonable workarounds are acceptable. 
  8. It’s discriminatory to compare students with disabilities to those without. For example, faculty who are rigid about attendance are discriminating against students with physical and mental illnesses that prohibit them from never missing class.  
  9. Online classes, online forums and the campus website must be accessible to all—students, staff, parents, and prospective students and employees.

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