Access in the Academy


October 7, 2012 by badacademic2

The notion makes me laugh, because I have rarely encountered it. Well, I did as an undergrad. That’s what gave me hope. Then I entered the world of grad student– not entirely student, not entirely staff/faculty. And accessibility is a joke then. If you need something more complicated than a wheelchair accessible classroom, extra testing time, or accessible course readings–and even then there are grumbles–be prepared for a *ton* of work. It is like taking an extra class. Or two.

Having a disability while pursuing a higher-ed degree or career seems to mostly consist of falling “between the cracks of the university’s disability-accommodation policies.”

A recent AAUP article states:

To function as a truly inclusive workplace, one that values and welcomes disability, higher education needs to move beyond narrow legalism and adopt a new perspective that conceptualizes access as a social issue rather than as a set of specific solutions to individual problems. By welcoming disability into the academy while reconceiving access, institutions can address disability as an issue that permeates all aspects of the social and physical environments that comprise the university workplace.

AAUP has written some great things about access in the academy, notably this on students with disabilities, and  this on hidden disabilities and faculty jobs.

I wonder how long it will take for universities to move beyond legalism and realize a truly accessible academy? If making sure the elevators are working and the automatic door openers work is beyond their concern, what of the more complicated things?



3 thoughts on “Access in the Academy

  1. Anthea says:

    I’m cynical enough to think that some universities won’t get around some things despite having to deal with the legislation since its just ‘too much effort’ and really in some instances to means that they’re not an exclusive little club…but entities which have to abide by rules and regulations.

  2. ABE says:

    They could definitely START by making sure the are really physically accessible.

    Such things as ‘ramps’ which are at 45°, and handicapped doors with buttons you have to walk too many steps to use, are rampant in just the little piece I use.

    Handicapped-friendly would be a nice start.

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