After reading Bradly University’s The Scout November 3, 2017 edition, I was reminded that every day presents teachable moments for all on our campus. I believe The Scout’s editorial section, What constitutes “priority registration” at this university? was meant to bring attention to how the university defines and applies priority registration to various groups of students on campus. Unfortunately, the tone of the piece resonated ignorance and misunderstanding of a group of students on Bradley University’s campus, students with disabilities.
First, the opinion piece states “special accommodations”. For those who do not know what an accommodation is, the American’s With Disabilities Act defines it as, “a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, activity or facility that enables a qualified student with a disability to have equal opportunity.” The addition of the word “special” to accommodations minimizes and devalues the purpose of the accommodation and the person that utilizes it. It is simply accommodations.
I would like to focus on two sections of the accommodation definition. First, “qualified” means that the admissions requirements have been met and the student has agreed to attend Bradley University. Also, the student has documented and verified that they have a disability and an accommodation is necessary to allow equal opportunity for learning. The second aspect I would like to emphasize in the accommodation definition is “equal opportunity”. Equal opportunity is different for each student because each student’s disability is individualistic. Individual needs are documented by medical professionals and reviewed by the Office of Student Access Services. Reasonable accommodations are established with intent for the student to have equal opportunity beginning day one of the school year. The utilization of an accommodation for priority registration allows the creation of a schedule that students with disabilities can navigate without impeding their learning at Bradley University. Most importantly, priority registration is NOT an accommodation granted to all students with disabilities. It is implemented IF it will assist the student to attain the same level of performance as a student without a disability.
I do agree with one statement in the article, we do not live in a perfect world. Perfection is unrealistic, but I do encourage a world of seeking and attainment of knowledge and understanding. In the spirit of making every opportunity a teachable moment, I invite students, faculty, and staff to contact the Office of Student Access Services if they have questions about reasonable accommodations on our campus or would like to learn more about persons with disabilities.
Director of Student Access Services