Funding for accessibility is something that will need to be figured out by each institution, but there are some key ideas that can help in those conversations.
- We’ve already been paid to do it. As far as the Federal government is concerned, if we are an institution that accepts federal funding of any kind (including financial aid for students), then that funding was accepted with the understanding that we abide by the various laws and guidance provided — which includes anti-discrimination laws like the ADA. So, while we may have spent the money on other parts of the university over the years, trying to resist the work based on expense will fall on deaf ears when we face off with enforcement agencies like the Office of Civil Rights.
- The expense is manageable. In many cases, depending upon the sort of resources we are trying to make accessible, the expenses are not extraordinary. Most of what we need to do is adopt some new skills and behaviors as we do our work, which requires some new training and new effort, not not a lot of hard costs. Accommodations are MUCH more expensive, in most cases, but those are reactive and serve a specific student with a need.
- Time and effort are the real challenge. Everyone on your campus needs to adopt the new behaviors and values. That means influencers need to be brought on board and the team promoting accessibility needs a lot of upper level support. Make sure that accessibility is written into job descriptions and expectations so that it can be something concrete that is evaluated in performance reviews for staff — and you may want to consider how those expectations can be applied to faculty expectations as well.
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