ERIC Number: EJ983938
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Reference Count: N/A
Access in the Academy
Kerschbaum, Stephanie L.
Academe, v98 n5 p37-40 Sep-Oct 2012
In a recent issue of "Academe," Stephanie Goodwin and Susanne Morgan point out that faculty members with chronic illness are likely to find current accommodation procedures unhelpful, both because they might choose to remain silent rather than risk the stigma of disclosing a disability and because accommodations often do not meet their needs. Some of the gaps in current accommodation procedures result from the ambiguous language of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As other "Academe" contributors (Elaine Beretz in "Hidden Disability and an Academic Career" and Paul Grossman in "Making Accommodations: The Legal World of Students with Disabilities") have pointed out, there is considerable legal and practical debate regarding how to define "disabled" and "reasonable accommodation." Some faculty members are fearful of asking for accommodations because of the prejudice still associated with disability. But the biggest problem results from the way the term "accommodation" is both understood and approached. To function as a truly inclusive workplace, one that values and welcomes disability, higher education needs to move beyond narrow legalism and adopt a new perspective that conceptualizes access as a social issue rather than as a set of specific solutions to individual problems. By welcoming disability into the academy while reconceiving access, institutions can address disability as an issue that permeates all aspects of the social and physical environments that comprise the university workplace. Institutions and departments need to approach disability publicly and openly as a normal topic of conversation. They need to understand that disability is not an individual problem to be "taken care of" and that accommodation is not simply a matter of "retrofitting" individuals. Moving away from these perspectives and approaches can help create environments that are both physically and socially open to disability.
Descriptors: Disabilities, Chronic Illness, Social Problems, Social Attitudes, Attitudes toward Disabilities, Accessibility (for Disabled), College Faculty, Work Environment, Performance Factors, Performance Technology, Personnel Policy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Americans with Disabilities Act 1990