LAWRENCE — Since July 2011, the University of Kansas has completed 21 of the 49 recommendations outlined by KU's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) task force. The significant progress is detailed in the task force's first annual progress report to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeff Vitter.
"Our success in implementing the ADA task force's recommendations is a benefit for the entire campus community," said Fred Rodriguez, vice provost for diversity and equity. "This is important as we continue to strive toward an inclusive campus community for everyone."
Among the report’s highlights is the hiring of dedicated administrators, Jamie Lloyd Simpson, director of Accessibility and ADA Education, within the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, and Monita Ireland, ADA Code Compliance, within Design and Construction Management. These new positions ensure that best practices and the 2010 Accessibility Standards are applied consistently universitywide.
"Many of the recommendations directly support KU's strategic plan, Bold Aspirations," said Simpson."The correlations between these two reports reinforces that creating a more accessible campus for people with disabilities creates a stronger university for everyone."
Simpson pointed to several additional highlights from the report, which made individual recommendations:
• To provide additional ongoing professional development for staff and faculty in the area of accessibility, Access, Communication and Teamwork: Working with Students with Disabilities training was provided to all faculty and select staff who have a role in providing academic accommodations. This recommendation supports Bold Aspirations goal 5-D: Enhance diversity of faculty, staff and students.
• To enhance and strengthen the climate for individuals with disabilities on campus, KU staff was instrumental in educating the food and Coke machine vendors about these standards. As a result, these companies have made significant changes to their vending machines to meet the accessibility standards. Of note, KU was the first institution in the country to receive Coke's newly designed CO2 refrigerant and accessible vending machines.
• Also to enhance and strengthen the climate for individuals with disabilities on campus, Parking and Transit changed the look of KU’s accessible parking signs by taking measurements of the signs and font height and printed 500 sticker overlays. The sticker overlay covers the word “handicapped” with the more respectful words “accessible parking.”
• To utilize information technology to improve overall services, IT implemented a Content-Management System (CMS) process for campus units desiring a web presence. All KU units are required to use the new Content Management System within the next two years, or apply for an exception. The official policy can be found here. As part of the exception process, KU units will have to agree to comply with university and state standards, including the Information Technology Policy 1210, Revision 2 State of Kansas Web Accessibility Requirements. This recommendation supports Bold Aspirations goal 6-B: Build a computational and technology infrastructure for future teaching, research and administration needs.
Finally, the university has established a central site for alternative administration of course-related tests and exams. Room 30 Strong has more than 20 seats, including nine adjustable carrels and height-adjustable work surfaces for wheelchair users. This space allows students with demonstrated need to take course exams with appropriate accommodations, e.g. reduced distraction and extended time, in a consistent, fully accessible location. Until this designated space was established, it was not unusual to have nearly 700 requests per semester for an accommodated room that had to be found and coordinated across campus. A full time coordinator of testing services has been in place since Aug. 1, and the designated room is coordinated by the Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC).
For a complete copy of the task force's annual report and for more information, visit online.