Disability Access an Ongoing Effort

Shane Shuma ’22, Staff Writer

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The Office of Disability Services said that all Dickinson academic buildings are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Historic President’s House, where classes are being held following East College’s temporary closing, is not a problem for students.

“I can tell you that all our academic buildings are accessible,” stated Marni Jones, director of Learning Skills and the Office of Disability Services (ODS), “but since professors in East College had to move to the Historic President’s House, each of those faculty members contacted me to make sure none of their students had a known mobility impairment, and they also communicated with their students that they could meet in alternative locations if ascending steps would be problematic for them.”

Currently there are 410 students at Dickinson who have disclosed a disability with the Office of Disability Services. These students make up 18% of the student body.

“Nearly all of those students have ‘invisible disabilities,’” said Jones “such as a learning disability, a mental health diagnosis, a chronic medical condition, or diagnosis on the autism spectrum. The majority of those students receive academic accommodations, but there are also students with housing, dietary and mobility accommodations.” 

There are not many students at Dickinson with physical disabilities who are registered with ODS. More often, students and faculty need accommodations due to temporary impairments that require crutches or a wheelchair. ODS also works with eligible students and faculty to provide academic or living accommodations. 

Every building built at Dickinson since 2010, and academic buildings, are compliant with ADA standards since it became law. For older buildings, ODS said it tries to make sure that mobility-impaired students have access to meeting spaces and classrooms. 

According to Kristen Kostecky, associate vice president for Campus Operations, “As far as the [old] buildings go, we try and address an ADA improvement each year…  Additionally, when we undertake larger renovations, we make sure the building is updated to be code compliant with regard to ADA.”