RSO Workshop focuses on inclusivity
On Nov. 2, Danny Nuss ’02, director for the Services for Students with Disabilities, and Rahasaan Ellison, assistant director for the SSD, hosted the fourth Registered Student Organization Workshop.
The workshop focused on inclusivity, like how to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations and be ADA-friendly when planning events on Pacific’s campus.
“Every event [on campus] should be accessible, inclusive and positively memorable for the right reasons,” explained Ellison.
Nuss stressed that not only should Registered Student Organizations accommodate those with disabilities for legal reasons, but also because it’s the respectful and right thing to do. Some great questions to ask and to consider when planning an event include: Is there a need to accommodate? Is the meeting or event site accessible? What possible modifications need to be made at the site? Are materials and the presentation available in alternate formats? Will anyone need transportation from site to site?
“These are items we need to be considering every time we host an event,” told Ellison.
A workshop full of case studies was provided, with the instructions to read each case study, ask questions about accessibility and assess how the campus could work to improve each scenario.
One scenario dealt with accommodation requests made for events. In the case study, one person asked for materials in electronic format, while the other one indicated that she would like all handouts in 16-point font.
“When your club or organization signs up, we need all materials three days before the event. We can help you convert them into whatever form you need them in to accommodate for disabilities at your event,” suggested Nuss as a solution.
The last case study involved a field trip where funding was limited and there was only enough money to pay for a traditional school bus. On the day of the field trip, a student shows up with a dog. In this case, the only two federal animals that qualify under “service dog” are either a miniature horse or an actual dog.
“The two questions you can ask are: Is this a service dog because you have a disability? And what specific task is this dog trained to do?” explained Ellison.
There is a difference between a disability service dog and an emotional service dog. An emotional service animal is to provide emotional support only and does not accompany the person on day-to-day service.
The traditional school bus has the problem of not being accommodating to persons in wheelchairs and those who might have trouble entering the vehicle.
Asking if the bus is ADA approved can help prevent this problem. This responsibility is on the planner and related staff for ensuring that arrangements are made to accommodate participants and make sure an event is ADA approved.
“You’re part of the Pacific team, and you’re all accountable. If you do all the things we talked about here and reach out, that’s a great way to try to be inclusive,” concluded Nuss.
The office of SSD is always available to support Pacific students and events with resources and advice; they are located on the first floor of the McCaffrey Center, room 116. If you need to reach the office of Services for Students with Disabilities, their phone number is (209) 946-3221.
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