Host an open forum on accessibility

Yesterday, students in the advocacy group Addressing Accessibility at Brandeis emailed a letter and personal statements to President Ron Liebowitz. The documents were written by students with disabilities and were accompanied by a list of about 270 signatures from advocates. In light of this letter, our editorial board would like to voice our support for this group and their goals of addressing accessibility.

The group’s official request is for an open forum to discuss accessibility on campus with the administration. According to the letter, “our message is simple: when access is increased for all students with disabilities, Brandeis will move closer to truly fulfilling its mission.” Various personal statements from students who have struggled with the way Brandeis handles their disabilities point out that one of Brandeis’ mission statements is to “safeguard the safety, dignity and well-being of all its members,” and they don’t feel that Brandeis is living up to its mission.

Having a disability or requiring accommodation includes, among other things, chronic illnesses, wheelchair users, being deaf or hard of hearing, being visually impaired and having a learning disability. There are many ways in which Brandeis could make life not only easier but simply livable for students who experience these disabilities.

Some of their suggestions are implementing ramps into buildings; adding and improving captions and transcripts for classes; putting reflective tape on stairs; and more prompt responses from the accessibility office.

Brandeis’ Student Accessibility Support (SAS) webpage lists a wide variety of services and support systems for students with disabilities. A prospective student might look at this website and feel that Brandeis will be helpful and accommodating with their disability and decide to enroll. But when they get to Brandeis, they will be met with a very different follow-through and a false representation of these claims.

We urge the administration to do better. SAS needs to give prompt responses to students, and Public Safety and DCL should show more understanding in their decisions regarding parking and living situations. The disability van must be more accountable; captioning better implemented in classes; microphone usage more strongly encouraged.

It is unacceptable that some members of our community do not have the same accessibility on campus as others and that the needs of these students are not being met. From the SAS website, and from the various student accounts, it seems like there are already many structures in place to accommodate disabilities. The problem is in the implementation and regulation of these policies. For example, students should not have to wait weeks on end to receive their letters of accommodation when the semester is quickly passing by and students have to take exams.

We strongly support the call for an open forum and widening the discussions and transparency around these issues. Everyone deserves to have an accessible campus.

Editor’s note: News editor Celia Young and Opinions editor Sabrina Chow did not contribute to this editorial.

Menu Title