Periodically, the Office of Equity & Inclusion sends out memos to the university regarding topics of importance related to disability. This page contains such memos.
TO: The OSU Campus Community
FROM: Office of Equity & Inclusion
RE: Disability Access and Accommodation
We are writing to remind you about OSU’s responsibility under Federal and State law and University policy to reasonably accommodate any qualified student, faculty/staff member or visitor who has a disability. OSU’s Policy and Guidelines for Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability states:
….no qualified person shall, solely by reason of disability, be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity provided by the University. Each qualified person shall receive the reasonable accommodations needed to ensure equal access to employment, educational opportunities, programs and activities in the most integrated setting…
What is a "reasonable accommodation?"
Accommodations can include moving programs to accessible locations, providing interpreters, providing computer or other specialized equipment, restructuring job responsibilities, providing flexible work schedules, producing written materials in alternate formats, and many other options.
How do I request an accommodation?
- Employee requests: An employee with a disability should contact her/his department to request accommodation.
- Student requests: Students with disabilities should contact Disability Access Services (DAS) — this unit coordinates all services needed for students in an academic or classroom setting.
- Visitor requests: Visitors, conference attendees, or job applicants with disabilities who need accommodation should contact the sponsoring department.
Learn more about requesting accommodations or responding to requests.
How do I respond to a request for accommodation?
- Employee requests: When an employee contacts you to request a job modification or accommodation, immediately contact the Office of Equity & Inclusion (OEI) at 737-3556 or by email. Your department must engage with the employee and OEI in an “interactive process.” Through this process, OEI, working with the employee and department, will determine whether or not an accommodation can be made and, if necessary, assist you in securing resources.
- Student requests: Faculty members and department staff should work with Disability Access Services (DAS) to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities. Learn more about making your classes and materials accessible to the largest number of students.
- Visitor requests: Departments should work directly with visitors/conference attendees/job applicants to accommodate their needs. Units seeking sign language interpreters should contact Disability Access Services. If a department is unable to provide accommodation, it may request assistance from the OEI. Learn more about publicizing events and ensuring access for the campus community and visitors.
Any information you receive regarding the disability of a student or employee should be kept confidential and shared only on a strict need-to-know basis.
If you have questions or wish to request training for your unit, you may contact:
- Martha Smith in DAS for questions dealing with services to students and classroom instruction, or
- Roni Sue in OEI for general information and training, reasonable accommodation requests, dedicated parking, and financial resources for providing accommodation.
TO: Deans and Department Heads
FROM: Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director of the Office Equity & Inclusion
RE: Video captioning and reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act
As we begin another busy academic year, it is important that we attend to our responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all of our programs, services, and activities.
One of these responsibilities extends to our communications. When we provide programs through videos we must ensure equal opportunity for success to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This can be accomplished by using captioned video resources—by purchasing captioned video resources whenever possible and by working with Disability Access Services to provide captioning on uncaptioned video resources. Common types of videos that should be captioned include, but are not limited to: videos from internet resources, video sharing websites (e.g., YouTube), DVDs, and video cassettes.
Refusal of this form of accommodation is not reasonable unless it can be established after the appropriate deliberative process that this form of accommodation would fundamentally alter the course or program, or is unduly burdensome, or that there are reasonable alternatives. Only rarely can these justifications for refusal be demonstrated. It generally is not unduly burdensome that the faculty member may have to plan a little further in advance or spend the minimal time needed to request captioning.
For captioning of uncaptioned videos we ask that faculty please work with Disability Access Services (DAS)(7-4098) to arrange for captioning of videos that will be used in the course. If at all possible, please plan ahead as much as possible by giving at least two weeks notice of the need for captioning. If two weeks simply is not possible, DAS will try to meet your needs as their staffing capacity allows; however, the more notice the better. Funding for captioning of videos shown in the classroom is provided by Disability Access Services. There is a small cost for the captioning of videos used in department sponsored public events. If your department is unable to cover captioning costs or needs financial assistance, please contact the Office of Equity & Inclusion (7-3556).
We request that deans and department heads bring this issue to the attention of all teaching faculty. Please direct any questions regarding this memo to the Office of Equity & Inclusion (7-3556).
We thank you for cooperating in ensuring equality of educational opportunity.
TO: The OSU Campus Community
FROM: Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director of the Office Equity & Inclusion and Gabriel Merrell, Interim Assoc. Director for Accessibility of the Office of Equity & Inclusion
RE: Policy on Information Technology Accessibility
This memo announces and outlines OSU’s new Policy on Information Technology (IT) Accessibility. The policy establishes minimum standards of accessibility for particular university websites and web-based content that will take effect February 22, 2012.
Several developments necessitate this policy:
- The US Departments of Justice and Education jointly issued a Dear Colleague letter on June 29, 2010 expressing concern about universities and colleges using electronic book readers that are not accessible to students who are blind or have low vision. They declared such usage to violate federal law unless students were provided accommodations that permitted them to receive all the educational benefits in an equally effective and integrated manner.
- US Department of Justice officials recently declared that websites of state universities and other public entities are subject to the program access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- A major state university is being investigated by the US Department of Education pursuant to a complaint about inaccessible university websites.
- The National Federation for the Blind has filed legal complaints against several universities over the use of inaccessible information technology.
- The US Department of Justice has announced its intention to establish regulations that will set minimum required standards for websites of public entities such as state universities.
These developments, combined with the rapidly increasing use of information technology as a medium for delivering university programs and services, underscore the urgent necessity for minimum accessibility standards for particular university websites. This policy is necessary in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunity to access programs and services provided through information technology, including websites.
About the Policy
As IT becomes a primary means by which information, programs, and services are made available, it is necessary to place accessibility considerations at the forefront of efforts to design, acquire, and use information technology. The accessibility of IT is integral to fulfilling the university’s obligation to be responsive to the needs of individuals with disabilities.
The new Policy on Information Technology Accessibility outlines minimum standards and expectations to ensure equal opportunity and access to all university programs, services, and activities. The Policy on IT Accessibility will be introduced in phases. With this memo, we are introducing Phase I, which pertains to the accessibility of websites and web-based content. Additional phases of the policy will address standards for hardware and software, including the procurement and selection of these IT products.
The policy states:
OSU commits to ensuring equal access to all University programs, services, and activities provided through information technology (IT). Unless an exemption applies and according to the applicability and timeline specifications, all colleges, departments, offices, and entities of the University will:
- Use University web page designs that are consistent with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) Level AA
- Disseminate electronic documents and multimedia on web pages that are consistent with this Policy
To read the policy statement in its entirety, and to learn more about specific requirements and time frames, please visit the newly redesigned Accessibility at OSU website.
The policy, adopted August 22, 2011, will take effect on February 22, 2012.
Accessibility Basics for the Web
To support the campus community in meeting the obligations of the Policy on IT Accessibility, the Office of Equity and Inclusion is offering introductory sessions specifically focused on website accessibility. To register, please visit OSU’s Professional Development site.
Any questions related to the Policy on IT Accessibility can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TO: The OSU Campus Community
FROM: Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director of Equity & Inclusion and Tracy Bentley-Townlin, Associate Dean of Student Life and Director of Disability Access Services
RE: OSU Service & Assistance Animal Policy
In 2010, the Department of Justice published revised regulations regarding the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These revisions contained clarification of the distinction between service animals and assistance animals, including emotional support animals. As a result, Oregon State University has revised our Service and Assistance Animal Policy. This memo is intended to clarify the requirements of the policy.
Learn about the full policy on the OSU Service & Assistance Animal Policy page.
If you have any questions, please contact Disability Access Services at 541-737-4098 or the Office of Equity and Inclusion at 541-737-3556.
A service animal is any dog* individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability and meets the definition of “service animal” under Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulations at 28 CFR 35.104. The work or tasks performed must be directly related to the individual’s disability.
* Under particular circumstances set forth in the ADA regulations at 28 CFR 35.136(i), a miniature horse may qualify as a service animal.
Where Service Animals are Allowed
In compliance with applicable law, OSU generally allows service animals in places of public accommodation.
Students who wish to bring a service animal to campus are strongly encouraged to partner with Disability Access Services, and employees are strongly encouraged to partner with the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
In general, representatives of the university are not permitted to ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. Representatives of the university may ask:
- If the animal is required because of a disability and;
- What work or task the animal has been trained to perform.
Faculty, Staff, Students, Visitors and members of the general public should avoid the following:
- Petting a service animal, as it may distract them from the task at hand,
- Feeding the service animal,
- Deliberately startling a service animal,
- Separating or attempting to separate a handler from his/her service animal,
- Hesitating to ask an individual if she/he would like assistance if there seems to be confusion.
An assistance animal is one that is necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. An assistance animal may provide physical assistance, emotional support, calming, stability and other kinds of assistance. Assistance Animals do not perform work or tasks that would qualify them as “service animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Where Assistance Animals are Allowed
Animals that do not meet the definition of “service animals” under the ADA are not permitted in places of public accommodation; however, assistance animals may be permitted, in certain circumstances, in University Housing pursuant to the Fair Housing Act.
Requests for assistance animals in University Housing should be made by contacting Disability Access Services.
TO: OSU Classroom Committee, Tony Wilcox, Chair, Mark McCambridge, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Vincent Martorello, Director of Facilities Services
FROM: Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director of the Office Equity & Inclusion and Gabriel Merrell, Interim Assoc. Director for Accessibility, the Office of Equity & Inclusion
RE: Accessibility of campus classroom renovations
A question has been raised regarding the extent of our responsibilities to address accessibility issues when we undertake classroom or other facility remodels. We thought it would be helpful to outline the scope of our responsibilities in that regard.
The most recent regulations from the US Department of Justice speak to this issue. 28 CFR 35.149 contains the overarching requirement that, “no qualified individual with a disability shall, because a public entity’s facilities are inaccessible to or unusable by individuals with disabilities, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any public entity.”
This regulation does not necessarily require that each one of our existing facilities be fully accessible, it requires that all our programs, services and activities be accessible. However, unless there is an exception based on structural impracticability, each facility or part of a facility constructed after January 26, 1992 must be designed and constructed so that the facility or part of the facility is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Structural impracticability will be found only in those rare circumstances where unique characteristics of terrain prevent the incorporation of accessibility features. This requirement of making new construction accessible applies to alterations of existing facilities.
28 CFR 35.151(b) requires that alterations that affect or could affect the usability of the facility or part of the facility shall be done so that the portion altered is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, if the alteration was commenced after January 26, 1992. An additional requirement to upgrade the path of travel is triggered if an alteration affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area of a facility that contains a primary function unless the cost and scope of the path of travel upgrades are disproportionate to the cost of the overall alteration. A primary function is a major activity for which the facility is intended. The cost is disproportionate when it exceeds 25% of the cost of the alteration to the primary function area (though the ADA regulations set the threshold at 20% we must apply the higher threshold of 25% specified by Oregon Structural Specialty Code 1113.1.1 and ORS 447.241(2)).
The path of travel requirement requires that, to the maximum extent feasible, the path of travel to the altered area and the restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs. The path of travel is a continuous, unobstructed way of pedestrian passage from an exterior approach (including sidewalks, streets, and parking areas) and connecting the altered area and the entrance to the facility and other parts of the facility. The pathway can include walks and sidewalks, curb ramps and other interior and exterior pedestrian ramps; clear floor paths through lobbies, corridors, rooms, and other improved areas; parking access aisles; elevators and lifts; or a combination of these elements. It also includes restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area.
To meet the accessibility requirements new construction and alterations done between September 15, 2010 and March 15, 2012 must comply with the 2010 ADA standards, UFAS, or the 1991 Standards except that the elevator exemption shall not apply. OSU has elected to follow the 2010 ADA standards.
The practical implications of these requirements are that remodeling projects such as classroom upgrades must be done in compliance with the 2010 ADA standards unless it is clear that they do not affect the usability of the facility or part of the facility. Since classrooms are primary functions of our facilities, their renovation will also trigger the path of travel upgrade requirement, thus requiring that at least 25% of the cost of the overall alteration be dedicated to path of travel improvements.
When altering a classroom it is very important that the potential uses of the classroom be considered to the end that individuals with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to participate in all projected activities that will take place in the classroom. For example, if students will need to navigate to the front of the classroom in order to participate in such activities as doing presentations, an alteration that enables access only to the back of the room without an accessible route to the front of the room will not be accessible to some individuals with mobility impairments. Even if compliance with the 2010 ADA standards allows for such a result, we still have an overarching responsibility to ensure access to all of our programs, services and activities. If we are unable to provide such access within that renovated classroom, we will have to resort to moving the class to a more accessible location.
The strategy of moving classes from less accessible to more accessible locations is increasingly becoming an untenable strategy given that we are operating so close to capacity, and our population of students with disabilities continues to grow. The need to move a class produces a domino effect whereby the move of one class may require moving several others. With the rapid growth in our population of students with disabilities we face an increasing probability that our options for classes that can be moved diminish as the number of classes with a student with a disability increases. Further, we have a limited supply of large classrooms. Moving a large class requires a sufficiently large space to which the class can be moved. In short, it is extremely unwise to renovate classrooms with a view to minimal compliance with the 2010 standards on the assumption that the strategy of moving a class will continue to be a viable strategy.
Decisions on which classrooms to renovate, and more broadly, which facilities to renovate, must take these points into consideration. Whenever it is financially feasible, the wisest strategy is to perform classroom or other upgrades not just to meet 2010 ADA standards and path of travel requirements, but to enable equal participation by persons with disabilities in all projected activities that will occur in the altered space.