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University Adopts Disability External Review Committee’s Phase One Recommendations
Syracuse University announced today that it will adopt all Phase One recommendations as presented to Chancellor Kent Syverud by the Disability External Review Committee. The committee, formed at the Chancellor’s request in April 2018, is comprised of faculty, staff and students and issued its Phase One recommendations following the completion of a comprehensive audit by an external contractor with deep expertise in the field. The audit examined the experiences of people with disabilities and University policies in the areas of academic support, student experience, administrative services, governance, organizational structure, policies and processes, culture, and technology services.
Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee, chaired by Joanna Masingila, dean of the School of Education, and Michael Schwartz, associate professor of law in the College of Law, elected to present the recommendations in phases. Phase One will be implemented immediately, and the remainder of the recommendations are forthcoming.
“I am honored to work alongside Michael and the rest of the committee on this important work. I appreciate Syracuse University’s commitment to an accessible and equitable community and look forward to seeing the recommendations implemented,” says Dean Masingila.
“I am grateful to the committee, which has persisted through the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic to present a comprehensive set of initial recommendations that we can act on immediately. I fully endorse each recommendation and have directed the appropriate leaders to commence implementation right away,” says Chancellor Syverud.
The recommendations include:
- Appointing a full-time director and ADA/503/504 coordinator, reporting to the chief diversity and inclusion officer and the chief, equal opportunity and Title IX officer, who will be empowered to champion leadership for equity and inclusion for all members of the University disability community. The University will launch a national search to fill this position.
- Establishing the Office of Disability Access and Inclusion, directed by the ADA coordinator and staffed by the accommodation specialist, and relocate these positions to a confidential, accessible space.
- Articulating a bold commitment to disability inclusion, the central importance and necessity of implementing disability accommodations; the creation of a culture of access, inclusion and belonging; and celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ADA in 2020.
- Increasing marketing and outreach efforts that feature a more robust representation of people with disabilities.
- Implementing Universal Design for Learning in new faculty orientation.
- Consistently expressing support of disability rights, respect for disabled people and awareness of disability issues on campus.
- Completing barriers-to-access inspections for all University facilities, creating a database of barriers to access and criteria for prioritizing their removal.
- Forming an Accessibility Review Committee for the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology to have oversight of the ITS Accessibility policy, related processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities, and to review the policy.
- Working with the Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer to create an Accessibility Procurement Review Committee to address procurement gaps.
“As a graduate student in the School of Education and now associate professor in the College of Law, I’ve seen dramatic changes in how the University approaches disability. When I arrived in 2001, the University asked, ‘How much does this or that accommodation cost?’ Whereas now it asks, ‘What can we do to make our campus inclusive and welcoming for people with disabilities?’ The Chancellor and the University can be held up as an example of the importance of an open attitude and a desire to go above and beyond mere compliance with the law,” says Schwartz.
As the University works to implement the Phase One recommendations, updates will be provided via SU News, on diversity.syr.edu and through the monthly Campus Commitments messages. Phase Two recommendations are expected to be delivered by spring 2021.
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge across disciplines to drive breakthrough discoveries and breakout leadership. Our collection of 13 schools and colleges with more than 200 customizable majors closes the gap between education and action so students can take on the world. In and beyond the classroom, we connect people, perspectives and practices to solve interconnected challenges with interdisciplinary approaches. Together, we’re a powerful community that moves ideas, individuals and impact beyond what’s possible.