New task force to provide research, advocacy for disabilities access
In response to concerns that have been raised regarding conditions of accessibility on campus, UCSU is working to ensure that students with disabilities are receiving the same opportunities as their peers.
On Thursday, Legislative Council unanimously approved the second reading of a bill that would create a Disabilities Access Task Force in charge of monitoring all students’ ability to enjoy the programs and education offered at CU. According to the bill, this committee will be responsible for researching and communicating all issues of disabilities access.
Authored by Tri-executive Hadley Brown and Matthew Beres, the UCSU co-director of city and neighborhood relations, the bill also says that the task force will work with “all university entities that affect disabilities access,” such as Facilities Management and Parking and Transportation Services.
“From UCSU’s perspective, we would be making the task force the primary advocates and researchers for disabilities access on campus,” said Brown, a senior English major. “We want to make sure that everyone has the same access to education here.”
Brown said there were several problems that lead to the creation of this task force, including the presence of handicap parking spaces on 18th Street that are not compliant with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two accessible spaces had originally been removed from that area by the construction of the Fine Arts building.
Other concerns include uneven sidewalks that are not sufficiently cleaned of snow and ice, and certain entries to buildings equipped only with stairs.
“Disabilities access should be incorporated more into campus construction plans,” Brown said.
Making up the Disabilities Access Task Force will be at least two members of Legislative Council, up to four students at large and the UCSU director of diversity affairs.
Dustin Farivar, vice president of Legislative Council and one of the bill’s sponsors, said the purpose of having such a group is to create new conversations in making sure there is an equitable level of access for all students.
“They can initiate any projects or concerns they have and they will be supported by UCSU to make sure we are serving the needs for students with disabilities on this campus,” said Farivar, a junior political science major.
Farivar said in the past, working with Disabilities Services has provided advocacy for students with both physical and nonphysical disabilities, but that the issue of disabilities access needs even more attention.
“We need to make sure . we are always considering student safety when it comes to capital construction projects,” Farivar said. “We have to make sure we are ADA compliant.”
Cindy Donahue, the director of Disabilities Services, said she welcomes the idea of having a student-led task force further address the issue of disabilities access.
“I applaud the student group, and the more people who are paying attention and bringing issues forward, the better,” she said.
Donahue also said Disabilities Services has just finished a survey addressing the concerns of students with disabilities on campus. She is hoping the results will be put into a report by the end of the semester, at which point it becomes an open record that the task force may consult.
“People put a lot of time and energy into answering questions,” she said. “Hopefully, this group will research to find out what already exists, and enhance it.”
It was not only disabled students, but able-bodied students as well, who recognized some of the problems with disabilities access on campus.
Roy Dodgers, a 22-year-old junior communications major, said ramps and elevators are not as conveniently placed in buildings as they should be.
“I could see it as being difficult, because the shortest distances between classes involve stairs,” he said.
Brown said there has already been interest among students for serving as representatives on the task force. She believes the task force is a step in the right direction toward correcting these problems and accommodating all students.
“When students really take on an issue and fight for it, it really makes a difference,” she said. “That’s the purpose behind this.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer George Plaven at firstname.lastname@example.org.