Problems with Services
Maybe you're a student with a disability and your professor or advisor is not providing accommodations. Perhaps you're a faculty member who can't get help from disability services. Regardless of what happens, here are campus resources who may be able to help, and ideas for addressing problems. You don't have to do these in order - they're just listed to help you think about options. And if things aren't going well, remember to take care of yourself (see information about taking care of yourself on our page about personal issues).
Option 1: Talk to the Person Responsible
First step should always be to talk with the person who is causing problems. If this doesn't work, talk to the head of the department (if a faculty member is the problem), or the head of disability services (if disability services are the issue).
Option 2: Call for Reinforcements to Act as Allies or Mediators
Campuses are full of resources. Consider checking to see if any of the following people on your campus might be available or helpful.
- Ombuds Office - an office designed to handle any complaints of students
- The ADA/504 Compliance Officer or Coordinator - might work in disability services, but more often is in a separate office that oversees the whole campus
- Your Dean or Academic Affairs officer - this is a person who wants students to do well and graduate, so they're likely to be highly motivated in solving problems as they arise
- Human Resources - the campus experts on all things related to employment (although there is sometimes a different office for student employment or graduate student employment)
- Chaplains - a highly under-utilized resource, since chaplains usually are well-connected to resources on and off campus, and they usually have a lot of training in conflict resolution
- Counseling services - sometimes counseling services have personnel who can mediate disputes or conflicts between students, faculty members, or offices
Option 3: File a Complaint
- Every campus is required to have grievance procedures in place for students; there's more information on our website about grievance policies and procedures
- If the campus is not paying attention and you believe there is a violation of the law or your rights, contact the Office of Civil Rights ; know that they will insist on seeing evidence of the violation, and they will aim for mediation first
Option 4: Create the Change
- The Black, Disabled and Proud website has tip sheets for setting up student organizations related to disability
- The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has published a guide to creating systemic change called Empowering Leadership , and its free for student activists
- Look at the list of national organizations working on disability issues just like you
- Syracuse University has published a guide for Citizen Journalism and Political Protests , which helps people observe, document, and share information from political actions, protests, and more.
- Teen Vogue published four suggestions for building strong social justice groups and movements
- Check out the National Federation of the Blind's Self Advocacy in Higher Education Toolkit and their Higher Education Accessibility Online Resource Center (they're designed for blind students but has useful information for all students - especially those who use technology to access print)
- Plan an event to highlight an issue on campus; check out Syracuse University's guide to planning inclusive events.
- The DREAM website has a list of student organizations at campuses around the country; call them to find out how they created change
- Some campuses are creating disability officer positions in student government on their campuses - like Donald Egan at the University of Texas at Austin
- Do your homework; go to the library and learn about other student protests on your campus - learn from previous generations about what works
- Find a local Independent Living Center and ask for advice about how to proceed
Campus Activism Resources (for information purposes only)
The American Civil Liberties Union works to defend and preserve individual rights and liberties