CUNY Implements Groundbreaking Accessibility Policy for Students with Disabilities

CUNY said it will upgrade its disability policy for its 10,000 students who need various accommodations| Photo: Supplied

The City University of New York is adopting a new accessibility policy for students with disabilities, addressing the needs of more than 10,000 CUNY students with disabilities by ensuring that inclusion, equity and accessibility are factors in every decision.

The policy, which passed by the Board of Trustees at its February meeting, will create procedures and deadlines to act on requests for academic accommodations across CUNY’s 25 campuses, according to a news release.

Academic adjustments can take many forms but include extended time to complete an exam; the ability to take an exam in an alternate location with a less distracting environment; and the use of assistive technology such as screen reading software, voice-to-text applications and audio versions of written materials.

Accommodations can also include the provision of a qualified learning assistant (QLA) who can serve as an in-class note taker, tutor or scribe, among other roles, and they extend outside of the classroom to accessible transportation if required and to internships and externships.

“As a student at CUNY, I am proud that the university has taken steps to put us ahead of the current ADA law,” said Lennyn Jacob, a disabilities studies major at CUNY SPS who is the former chairperson of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities, who also works as an accommodation specialist at Hostos Community College.

“This policy ensures clarity for our disabled student community, who may not know their rights, and the faculty and staff supporting them. It provides clear guidelines to meet the needs of disabled students while supporting staff to ensure their success. Not only am I disabled and proud, but I am also disabled and supported here at CUNY.”

These accommodations increase independence and allow many students to be full participants on campus and in classrooms and help ease the transition to successful employment.

“By specifying the steps that are necessary to provide equal access to education for students with disabilities, along with clear procedures to govern their equitable provision, CUNY will ensure a learning environment that is fully inclusive, and one in which all students with disabilities can obtain the resources they need to thrive,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.


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