The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.
Francis Bacon wrote that people with disability develop to be “extreme bold” as a habit born of their need to defend themselves from the “scorn” of others. No doubt much has changed in the years since Bacon opined on the matter, but Stephen Kuusisto writes, in “Extreme Bold in the Faculty Ranks,” that students and faculty with disabilities still have a long way to go before they are treated with full equality in academia.
Given the number of Americans with disabilities, Kuusisto is rightly shocked at how little we’ve done to accommodate people with different needs. In one particularly galling example, a classroom building at the University of Minnesota was missing ramps in many places, making it effectively impossible for students and faculty in wheelchairs (or, in some cases, with canes or walkers) to get to the classes and departments there. This one issue was fixed after the student newspaper drew attention to it, but as Kuusisto writes, academia at large needs to shift its thinking so that these issues don’t happen at all.