1/ I have a few thoughts about this. Let’s do a brief 🧵. This is really personal to me, so it I come off a little jaded - I am.
2/ First, let’s not presume that the issue of inaccessibility in higher education is made difficult only by abled professors, colleagues, students, administrators, etc. I know of too many disabled instructors and administrators who have also made the system more difficult.
3/ Accommodations are hard to get. Most students who need them don’t get them. It took me until 2019 to get accommodations, by that point I’d been in college classes for over 7 years. Even as I started the process of gathering medical documentation, I had internalized stigma.
4/ The accommodations process at most universities is classist and, (un)ironically, ableist. The spirit of accommodations is to work with students to identify the most effective ways for them to access instructional content.
5/ Most of the time, it is accessibility professionals prescribing access - often at the detriment of the student.
6/ After the small percentage of students have been able to negotiate access with disability services, instructors then want to renegotiate and deny the accommodations. The list of reasons can go on forever, but - plainly - it is ableist and not the place of the instructor to ?.
7/ Let’s not act like a short extension on assignments is going to throw off your entire course schedule. And DO NOT DARE say that students should just take a reduced course load. It is classist. If I had to take a reduced course load, I have no idea how I would have afforded it.
8/ Scholarships, loans, parent money — these are things that aren’t available to all students, and even if it is - why should we require students to take longer to graduate when they could do it on time with reasonable accommodations?
9/ I’ve also heard too many people commenting: “Wow, it seems like there’s more and more accommodations for ADHD.” Okay? And? We should be glad that students with disabilities are getting access to accommodations. Don’t fight them on it, don’t complain.
10/ From my personal experience: when instructors get an accommodation letter, they may be confused and not know what to do. TALK WITH YOUR STUDENTS, they’re likely the expert on what they need and how they need it. DO NOT start sharing accommodation information with colleagues.
11/ After I gave an instructor an accommodation letter, they shared it not only with the graduate coordinator (which was fine), but also other faculty members who did not have an educational need to know.
12/ As someone who was not public with having chronic migraine, ADHD, and a psychiatric disability, I thought this was harmful to my professional image. I knew of the ableism in my program (and the university), and I was trying to navigate my training despite that.
13/ Realistically: this problem is bigger than faculty and staff. It is institutional. It is the idea that ADA/504 accommodations are a compliance activity, and not an instructional activity.
14/ There’s also an issue with not seeing disability as a diversity and inclusion activity. I was on a high-up diversity work group and although we had a good (and needed focus) on racial equity, the conversations always went dry when discussing disability.
15/ Even after I advocated for it: disability wasn’t including on a climate survey. — This is such a big problem, but it could be alleviated. Here’s some ways:
16/ First, instructors need to recognize that the process of getting disability accommodations is difficult. Work with your students, don’t question their disability or deny them their accommodations.
17/ Second, every campus diversity unit/leader needs to accept disability as a part of their job responsibilities. Yes, racial equity is important! And, the stats show that students of color who are disabled also have harder times throughout educational systems.
18/ Third, instructors: take a universal design for learning class. Many of the things that are used as accommodations could/should be integrated into our courses because it is good pedagogy. (Look at the Universal Design for Learning guidelines: cast.org/impact/univers…).
19/ Fourth, graduate program admin: require a good course in pedagogy for M.S./Ph.D. students. Do not let these trainees graduate and become faculty without any real training in teaching and learning, which must cover Universal Design concepts.
20/ Fifth, department chairs and deans: REQUIRE diversity and inclusion training for all staff and faculty that includes disability awareness, preferably taught by someone with a disability.
21/ There’s also more tips, for professional organizations, in my recent article:
22/ Reasons why I am jaded: Ableism in higher education has harmed me, harmed my friends, cost me more money than needed, and continually harms other students. (For admins who aren’t convinced: It is also hurting your recruitment and retention rates.)

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5 Sep 20
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