Dear Students, Faculty and Staff: I had hoped my first communication with the campus community would be to share positive news. Sadly though, I am writing with the most difficult news to share—the passing of one of our students. We…
Disability External Review Concludes with Phase Two Recommendations
Syracuse University’s Disability External Review Committee has submitted its final report to Chancellor Kent Syverud, who has indicated his support for the implementation of the committee’s Phase Two recommendations beginning immediately. 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 recommendations were approved in September 2020 and implementation is well underway.
The committee, formed at the Chancellor’s request in April 2018, was composed of faculty, staff and students and issued its report and recommendations following the completion of a comprehensive review 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.
“I have reviewed the report carefully and am impressed with the scope, thoroughness and constructive manner in which these recommendations are presented,” says Chancellor Syverud. “I want to thank Dean Masingila and Professor Schwartz for their leadership and the entire committee for their perseverance. They were asked to complete a difficult and broad scope of work. Furthermore, the pandemic disrupted operations just when the committee was finishing its work. I am grateful for the committee’s service and their delivery of a high-quality, valuable report that will be of great benefit to the University.”
The Chancellor has charged the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with working across the University to prioritize implementation of the committee’s recommendations, including appointing a Disability Access and Inclusion Council. Commensurate with other Universitywide advisory councils, this group will include faculty, staff and student representation and provide expertise and input to broader University groups working on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategic Plan and other initiatives. Council members will be formally announced by Aug. 1. Individuals interested in serving should contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at email@example.com.
“The Disability Access and Inclusion Council will provide a valuable, ongoing source of advice for the strategic plan and ongoing programs, adhering to the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ and ensuring that a wide range of voices from the disability community are heard as we work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at Syracuse University,” says Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith A. Alford.
The Disability External Review Committee’s Phase Two report is divided into short-term, mid-term and long-term recommendations across several categories, including:
- Enhance faculty professional development on accessibility and inclusion;
- Provide advisors to facilitate students’ access to learning services;
- Provide faculty with technical, coaching and professional development support for accessible and inclusive teaching;
- Hire a director for the Disability Cultural Center and expand the Access Mentoring/Orange Recovery Community programs in student recruitment and alumni activities;
- Make administrative enhancements for the Office of Disability Access and Inclusion and the Center for Disability Resources, including assessment of and key metrics for programs and services;
- Add disability discrimination language to the Code of Student Conduct, the Faculty Manual and staff Performance Partnership documents;
- Continue to enhance the accessibility of Syracuse University websites in a systematic way;
- Include students with visible disabilities in marketing materials/videos;
- Ensure that navigation, maps and visitor guides for campus and the stadium are accessible and clear, enhancing wayfinding where necessary;
- Continue to develop, prioritize and implement a multi-year Physical Access Plan;
- Continue to enhance accessible purchasing and review process of the Accessibility ICT Policy Council to ensure that technology applications, products and services are accessible; and
- Launch the Disability Access and Inclusion Council, including undergraduate and graduate representatives from the newly formed Disability Student Advisory Council.