Inclusive Facilities and Resources
Action Item (as stated with DEI strategic plan launch in 2016)
The university will convene a DEI Facilities Working Group to establish campuswide guidelines for new construction that support a more accessible and inclusive physical environment. The working group will partner with units across campus whose missions support accessibility and inclusion.
To date, the university has advanced an array of recommendations generated by the U-M Student IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility). The Student IDEA Board was created in Year Three to assess U-M’s infrastructure in terms of its ability to support and include students who are impacted by barriers within the university culture relating to disability, accessibility or ableism. The specific task was to generate actionable recommendations that could be attained within a short- to medium-term timeline, in a collective and collaborative way. Using an approach the Board referred to as Universal Design for Living, members set about the work of creating an institution that is both accessible and proactive in all aspects. During Year Four and Year Five, the Provost’s Office has planned and implemented strategies for achieving a number of those initiatives. The work is ongoing.
A key recommendation from the IDEA Board report was to centralize disability resources on a single hub. That hub has been approved and is nearing completion with the introduction of a new central URL, disability.umich.edu. This clearinghouse of accessibility and accommodations for disabled students, faculty and staff offers comprehensive guidance for all units and individuals on campus.
Several advances were made in 2020–21 to improve accessibility of the physical campus infrastructure. A map of general fund buildings was created to clearly show accessible routes, parking and building features. Work on this continues, with an estimated completion date of October 2021. For recent and ongoing construction projects, training accessibility modules were introduced for new building project reviews and building inspectors. Training in accessibility awareness was provided for the Facility User Network, and all design managers on campus were introduced to new training protocols such as ADA Checklist and analysis.
On the teaching front, CRLT partnered with community members to develop and deliver numerous presentations for instructors on the topic of digital accessibility. In addition, Universal Design for Learning core principles were introduced to LSA’s Science Learning Center, Sweetland Writing Center and Comprehensive Studies Program at the annual Peer Tutor Summits (February 2020, February 2021).
Within the Services for Students with Disabilities Office, a new interim director—appointed in July 2020—moved quickly to enact a variety of changes, including improved communications, regular newsletters and emails from the director and frequent updates to the SSD website. In addition, the student advisory board was revamped and restarted. Effective July 1, 2021, the interim director was named to a permanent role. Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, MD, MS is the new Director of Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS). In this role, Dr. Okanlami will oversee three key resources: Services for Students with Disabilities, the U-M Adaptive Sports & Fitness Program and the existing Testing and Accommodation Centers.
During the 2020–21 academic year, SSD added three staff members to lower the student-to-advisor ratio and implemented the Accommodate data management system, which will significantly advance the accommodations process and reduce the need for disclosure. Also in response to an IDEA Board recommendation, the online intake form for students seeking accommodations was streamlined.
Two recommendations were advanced regarding the intentional recruitment of disabled students, one of which focused on providing equal access to physical fitness and adaptive sports for all students with disabilities. In response, the Division of Student Life (DSL) partnered with SSD to launch a new initiative: the Adaptive Sports and Fitness Program.
Finally, new accessibility and accommodations information for prospective and admitted students has been added to all Office of Undergraduate Admissions websites and brochures, and to the recruitment/admissions websites of several schools and colleges across campus.
Responsibility: Office of the Provost and the Office of University Facilities and Operations