Today's Update: Thursday, May 21

May 21, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, 

Today is Global Disability Awareness Day, and an excellent opportunity to highlight one of our Student Life departments and a significant number of our students.  

Student Life Disability Services has over 4,000 students (undergrad, grad and professional) registered to receive accommodations on the Columbus campus, and approximately 19% of undergraduates nationally have a disability. Those numbers make it clear why, as we increasingly shift our focus to virtual platforms, it is more important than ever to remember to do things like caption videos, use accessibility statements and ensure new software tools and widgets are assessed for accessibility. 

Accessibility works best when it is a routine part of how we operate. You may remember during the Listening Sessions I talked about how I always try to use a microphone for access in group settings. It’s a little thing, but important. I may never know whether it made a difference in any particular gathering, but that’s the point. Most disabilities are non-apparent. We should design our work with persons with disabilities in mind, since we will often never be told that someone has a disability, nor do we need to know. The top three types of disabilities among Ohio State students seeking accommodations are psychological (mental health), ADHD and chronic health conditions, all “invisible.”  

It does make a difference. In the Campus Climate on Diversity report, the Center for the Study of Student Life took data from each of the 2012, 2015 and 2018 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership datasets to examine Ohio State‘s campus climate and found, “Across all three years, students with disabilities experienced a lower sense of belonging and acceptance on campus than students without disabilities.” You can read the whole report on CSSL’s website.  

We can all help. There is a good review of the digital accessibility policy available through 

BuckeyeLearn, and Student Life Marketing/Strategic Communications and Technology 
Services can help make sure your materials, including social media posts, 
are accessible.  

Here are some other resources: 

The real key is awareness. Consider this quote from the organizers of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, “While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.”  

Accessibility makes sure that everyone can have a Scarlet and Great experience.