Access in the Academy

In the September-October issue of AcademeStephanie L. Kerschbaum writes that administrators and other leaders can take positive steps to help ensure access for all faculty, before specific needs arise. For example, braille nameplates next to all offices can be the norm, so that faculty who need them will feel included from the start. Kerschbaum also points out that some accommodations can be useful to everyone–for example, a closed captioning system for lectures and events can help everyone ensure that they know what the speaker is saying, even if they aren’t deaf.

Kerschbaum’s key point is that accommodating faculty means more than just finding individual solutions to specific needs. Doing the latter sends the message that the faculty member’s needs are a problem that have to be solved, and will always be reactive. By being proactive, schools send a message that all are going to be welcomed. The article concludes with an extensive list of ideas for how to achieve meaningful accessibility for all members of the university community.

Academe has published several recent articles about access for faculty members who have disabilities, and the AAUP recently released a major report on the subject.

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.