Unlike race or gender, disability is the one class protected by U.S. Civil Rights law that anyone can potentially join during their lifetime. Physical and mental impairments can be present at a young age or be acquired through disease and accidents, and the aging process naturally changes our capabilities. It is estimated that 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has a disability, and almost 1 in 5 undergraduate students reported having a disability, though the majority do not formally request academic accommodations.
Accessibility accommodations exist as a form of affirmative action. They work to level the playing field and remove barriers so that people with disabilities can focus on the tasks and skills required by their job or academic program.
UAF eCampus is hosting a four-day series called Accessibility at UAF: Understanding our Accommodations Processes from March 8-11, 2021, in partnership with UAF Disability Services and the UA Human Resources ADA office. It focuses on demystifying the rights, policies, offices, forms, tools and language that work together to create equitables experiences for people with disabilities at our institution. Complicated systems can be barriers themselves, so the goal of this series is to empower you to effectively advocate for students, community members and even for yourself.
The sessions will run from 1-2 p.m. each day, and you can add it to your calendar or join directly from the website. Slides and recordings will be uploaded to the site within 24 hours of each presentation.
Here’s a rundown of the series and a directory of resources related to accessibility accommodations on our campus.
March 8: What You Need to Know About Accessibility Law
The Monday session covers the reason why these processes exist, aka accessibility law, led by Clara Noomah, the instructional designer who leads accessibility efforts at UAF eCampus, and Amber Cagwin, director of UAF Disability Services. This introduction to foundational concepts and vocabulary sets the stage for the following sessions in the series.
UAF eCampus’s Accessibility Resources page
March 9: Getting Accommodations as a Student
Cagwin and Sarah Walker, a UAA student with a visual impairment, will be talking about the student academic accommodations process. They’ll address some common misconceptions and answer any questions you have about best practices for working with students with disabilities as a staff or faculty member.
March 10: Assistive Technology and Universal Design
Marissa Jesser, student accommodations manager at Disability Services, and Noomah will be talking about common assistive technology used by students and employees at the university. The slides for this session contain a wealth of links to different technologies.
March 11: Getting Accommodations as an Employee
Join Audrey Coble and Bailey Brack, inclusivity specialists at the UA HR Talent Acquisition division, to talk about the accommodations process for university employees. They will also be showing the new, easier-to-navigate UA ADA site.
Clara Noomah, M.Ed, is an instructional designer who has worked in the world of education for almost 10 years. She is part of the eCampus accessibility task force.