Accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act was created in order to ensure fair and equal access to all opportunities for those with disabilities. Thirty years ago, on July 26, 1990, the ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.  This important event followed years of effort by people with disabilities and their allies, who had been organizing to advocate for their rights since the 1960s. Their efforts led to an early accomplishment in 1973 when  people with disabilities were finally recognized as a minority group with the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Campers participate in Mizzou's Wheelchair Basketball Camp
Campers participate in Mizzou’s Wheelchair Basketball Camp at the Rec Complex. Julia Hansen/University of Missouri
 
Importantly, however, it was only with the ADA becoming law in 1990 that exclusionary practices based on ability were recognized as discrimination. 
 

Accessibility is …

 a human right

The ability to engage in activities and access all things (places, resources) without barriers— that’s accessibility. Every person, regardless of ability, has this right.
 

a public health issue

Health is determined by environmental and societal factors, not just biology. Accessing care needed to stay healthy requires time, transportation, insurance or financial support, and a provider with the expertise and commitment to offer needed care.
 
For people with disabilities, external barriers may impact their ability to receive proper care. Attitudinal barriers, like stereotypes or prejudice, held by some people about those with disabilities can hinder their willingness to search for care or accommodations.
 
Accessibility is critical to public health. By ensuring everyone has access to healthcare, we are providing for each other and our communities.
 

something we can all strive for

Accessibility is not only achieved through policy, but through individual action. We’re all capable of reducing barriers.
 
This can include simple things, like adding alternative text to images we post on social media. And bigger things, like being an ally to the disabled community and joining their advocacy for addressing barriers. 
 

Accessibility and inclusion at Mizzou and in the School of Health Professions

Dr. Bill Janes teaches students about adaptive and assistive technology.

Students with disabilities in SHP/MU 

 

Faculty development and support for students with disabilities

Mizzou strives to promote an environment of accessibility and adaptability. 

The Disability Center on campus offers customized training and accessibility evaluations for faculty and staff. This is a more active opportunity to remove barriers in academic environments without students having to go out of their way to ask for accommodations. It can cover things like making certain events and spaces accessible for all as well as teaching disability awareness to instructors. 

There is an emphasis on digital accessibility, especially with the increased number of entirely online students. Faculty are shown how to design and create effective virtual layouts that serve students with varying needs. 

The ADA office is available to contact for further questions or information.

How our professions support individuals with disabilities 

The School of Health Professions’ programs prepare students to reduce patients’ experience of disability through treatments that help with recovery of function and/or the use of accommodation strategies. Students also learn the importance of advocating for patients’ rights and empowering patients to advocate for themselves. The Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs teach students how to help their patients with disabilities engage in an active lifestyle by increasing or adapting their movements to decrease limitations and by identifying tools and/or environmental modifications to promote accessibility. In addition, the Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences program educates future speech-language pathologists, who increase speech skills for their patients.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Research Professor Dr. Bill Janes received the 2019 Lee Henson Access Award for his work developing a 3-D printing lab to create adaptive equipment on the Mizzou campus. Dr. Janes also leads Go, Baby Go!, which is a program that modifies toy ride-on cars to provide power mobility on an individualized basis for children under three.

As important as it is to make the physical campus and university events accessible, it’s equally as important to educate the Mizzou community and provide awareness to destigmatize disabilities. 

 


References:

History of the Americans with Disabilities Act 
Introduction to the ADA 
Disability History at Mizzou