A general lack of awareness shrouds issues related to accessibility on campus. There is a significant deficit in understanding amongst the student body about the full spectrum of disability. This deficit has been exacerbated by a lack of institutional knowledge and a perceived stigma experienced by students with disabilities. Many do not want to advocate for themselves so as to avoid being defined by their disability. As a campus community, we have an obligation to dismantle this stigma and to spread awareness about the serious issues facing students with disabilities.
Creating a Welcoming and Inclusive Culture:
- Continue providing funding for the annual Disability Studies Lecture Series.
- Advocate for the expansion of the Disability Course Cluster and take steps towards creating a Disability Studies Minor and/or Certificate Program. Ensure that existing Disability Studies courses are cross-listed for the Diversity Requirement.
- Encourage CAPS to design group therapy sessions for students with physical disabilities.
- Engage Blue & Gray leadership in promoting Georgetown’s accessibility resources on campus tours.
- Work with the CSE, ESCAPE, and Campus Ministry on thoughtfully engaging issues of accessibility in retreats and identity discussions.
- Compile a clear list of the best language for students to use while discussing accessibility, and distribute it amongst GUSA, Blue & Gray tour guides, SAC groups, and other relevant student organizations.
Offering Academic, Extracurricular, and Professional Support:
- Campaign to integrate Georgetown 365, the initiative of the new Access Coordinator in the Academic Resource Center (ARC). Work with the ARC to increase advertisement for existing free ASL interpretation.
- Explore options for developing recreational sports opportunities for students with disabilities.
- Raise awareness about the necessity of placing disclaimers on student group advertising that highlights their ability and willingness to make accommodations by request.
- Call for the improvement of the captioning process when professors post lectures online during instructional continuity to make it easier for students who are hard of hearing to access lectures.
- Work with NSO to ensure that students with disabilities have an easy way to let NSO staff know about necessary accommodations and to make sure that OAs are inclusive towards students with all types of disabilities in all types of programming.
- Continue to fight for the establishment of a Disability Cultural Center (DCC) to handle disability accommodation requests and foster an inclusive atmosphere. Push for the administration to commit space for the DCC in the Leavey Center renovation.
Ensuring a Physically Accessible Campus:
- Advocate for a way to designate facilities requests that present accessibility problems as high-priority.
- Work with facilities staff to ensure that all automatic door openers around campus are fully functional.
- Consider options for relocating the Student Health Center to a more accessible location in the center of campus.
- Prioritize universal accessibility during the construction of new buildings in the master planning process and commit to full ADA accessibility in all future construction.
- Publish a new campus accessibility map and work with the Georgetown administration to more effectively publish it on their official website.
To realize this agenda, we will establish a diverse team that represents students with different types of disabilities and of different age groups to reflect the unique needs of the Georgetown community in addressing these issues. We will build a system that emphasizes proactive outreach to students with disabilities to offer support rather than waiting for them to reach out on their own. Through all of this, we will continue to review responses from the Fall 2015 GUSA Accessibility Survey to better understand which issues matter to students most.