The anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities reminds us, as a campus, to celebrate all persons with visible and invisible disabilities, and remain committed to their equitable inclusion.
Since its enactment on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, and its state-based equivalent statutory protections have provided protections for disability access and inclusion, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, in public accommodation, in public services, in transportation, and in telecommunications. Former President George H. W. Bush called the Act “a new birth of freedom” for Americans who identify as having a disability. This landmark civil rights law has changed society from benevolence towards disability to acceptance. While our campus, both by accessible design and accommodation, endeavors to provide equal access and inclusion for faculty, staff, students and visitors with disabilities, copious work remains, especially within external communities.
Maryland protects people with disabilities both in Title 20, State Government Article, and in Sections 7-701 to 7-710, Human Services Title. While these laws provide protections, they must be enforced and awareness must continue to be raised to promote equitable access and acceptance of persons with disabilities - on campus, on the job, and in the classroom.
Recently litigation in Baltimore City brought an assertion about a lack of curb ramps - raising awareness about federal accessibility requirements and the ongoing need for diligence. On campus, curb cuts and accessible grading are described on UMBC's Accessible Route Map. All construction and renovation on campus is designed to meet current accessibility requirements. That being said, repair conditions and maintenance needs arise and should be reported to Facilities Maintenance via Work Control (410-455-2550, email@example.com) or via a department's AIM request. Accessibility concerns may be reported at any time via this linked online form. The replacement of elevators in the Sondheim and Fine Arts buildings in 2021 will be a boost to campus navigation, especially for people with disabilities. UMBC's Web Accessibility page (link), including information for reporting difficulty about digital content accessibility is also shared via the footer of UMBC's websites.
Additionally, all students with disabilities - graduate, undergraduate, part-time, full-time - may seek academic accommodation via Student Disability Services. Similarly, employees - faculty, staff, graduate assistants, student workers, work-study - may seek work-related accommodations via Accessibility and Disability Services.
Accessibility and Disability Services looks forward to working in partnership with UMBC's diverse and inclusive community to support equitable access to education, and employment as we reflect on the growth of campus accessibility over the past 31 years.
P.S. UMBC's support of accessibility pre-dates the ADA-read more about the designer Guy Chisholm who was honored for his 1965 accessible design elements at UMBC by Governor Mandel in 1982 via this link.
A photo of a standing black woman with a backpack using a walker-with-a-seat on a sidewalk next to a street with an orange bus lane. She is wearing a peach puffy jacket with peach pants and a black knit hat and is facing away from the camera. Photo credit: Jon Tyson via Unsplash.com