Disability as an Aspect of Diversity

February 21 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Mayser Gymnasium

  • Kincaid

Jeanne Kincaid,  
Attorney at Drummond Woodsum, Portland, Maine  

In 2008, Congress amended the Americans with Disabilities Act in a manner that has resulted in a significant expansion of who qualifies for protection from discrimination and possible reasonable accommodation.  Like campuses throughout the country, Franklin & Marshall is responding to the growing challenges of a range of students some of whom present with unique and diverse needs. Almost daily, we see news reports discussing emotional support animals on airplanes.  Yet little discussion occurs as to the frequency of requests by students for similar animals in campus housing. Residential life is facing on-the-job education with some of the dilemmas that boarding animals in close quarters presents, including to individuals who may be disabled by allergies.

From an academic standpoint, campuses are enrolling academically gifted students who may have psychiatric or health conditions that test the limits of comfort with faculty who may be asked to modify attendance policies or be more flexible with deadlines. Advancements in technology have opened previously closed doors to individuals with visual impairments.  These students are entitled to a level of accessibility that demands faculty involvement and collaboration. Embracing a diverse student body in a dignified manner that meets legal requirements and advances F&M’s inclusive mission is not an easy task. However, it certainly has opened many of our eyes to creative responses to growing accessibility trends. This presentation will highlight how the ever-changing disability population is beckoning campus leadership to rethink instructional and student life experiences.

This event was proposed by Allison Hobbs.