We strive to make Oregon State University the most accessible university in the state. The efforts listed below constitute some, but by no means all, of the recent work done by many members of the OSU community to improve experiences for people with disabilities.
To best lay out this work, the information is presented in 6 sections, or types of work that have happened:
Planned and recent projects to enhance campus accessibility include the following. The list below is not an all-inclusive list of projects that have improved access.
Not all projects below are fully funded, but if realized, will all enhance campus accessibility.
Three major changes in this area designed to increase the focus on accessibility include; the reorganization of the Accessible University Initiative Task Force and the Commission on the Status of Individuals with Disabilities, the creation of a position in the Office of Equity and Inclusion to focus on access and the needs of people with disabilities, and the creation of a position in Facilities Services to focus on the accessibility of physical environment facilities in design and construction.
The AUITF was reorganized in April 2012 into the Accessible University Advisory Committee (AUAC) to recognize the ongoing nature of its work beyond what is contemplated for a task force. At the same time COSID was also reorganized. Specifically, both committees were reorganized to enhance the work and better align AUAC and COSID as reporting directly as advisory committees to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the office with ADA responsibilities. Committee roles, charges, membership and operating procedures were clarified as well. AUAC will continue to secondarily report to the VP for Finance and Administration, and COSID will begin reporting secondarily to the Provost and Executive VP.
There have been many practice changes recently to address procedural ways in which we can tackle the complex issue of accessibility in our physical environment. Some of these were initiated by the AUAC, others as a result of the campus accessibility assessment, and others by offices on campus. Some of these changes include the following:
There are three ways that the university has attempted to approach accessibility work in this arena; assess campus for physical accessibility, climate surveys, and committee work.
The university has concluded the first phase of a campus accessibility survey and assessment in an effort to identify barriers in the physical environment. This work included evaluating all of the pedestrian and transportation facilities within the main campus up to entrances to buildings, and will continue with individual interior building assessments. This work will help the university continue to develop best practices for access, and includes as additional main goals barrier removal prioritization and identification of as many accessible paths as possible around campus – to achieve a universally accessible campus.
Three groups are currently or have recently conducted campus outreach to assess climate; COSID, Disability Access Services, and the Office of Equity & Inclusion. COSID’s survey was conducted in late 2011/early 2012 to assess the effectiveness of COSID on campus, and give the commission direction. There were 182 responses. Data is still being evaluated, but, in general, many people acknowledge good work has happened recently, while many others say there is still a lot of work to do to make OSU fully accessible.
Disability Access Services routinely surveys the students it serves, in 2012 it surveyed faculty it works with to provide accommodations and classroom access, to learn about where else efforts are needed to improve.
The Office of Equity & Inclusion has been tasked by the President to conduct a campus wide self-study on all current equity and inclusion efforts to help articulate a vision of the preferred future of OSU through identifying significant goals that must be pursued.
In addition to all of the efforts above, accessibility and the needs of people with disabilities has been emphasized through the increase in committee participation all over campus that those of us working on these goals have committed to. These committees include:
Much of the work in this area includes the work listed in previous sections, but it also includes many presentations, events, and trainings conducted by numerous people around campus.
Since 2011, 26 professional development/training sessions specifically on accessibility of our environments, were conducted for over 355 people, including faculty, staff and students. Disability Access Services as an office has conducted around 25 training sessions for the OSU community during the 2011-2012 academic year.
President Ed Ray participated in a nationwide video project to emphasize, in higher education, the need for accessibility and inclusion, particularly in our IT environments.