Faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in a new workshop series that highlights the array of accessibility and disability inclusion resources available at the University of Michigan.
The series is organized by the Americans with Disabilities Act team and runs through October, which is both National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Disability Community Month at the university.
Workshop topics will cover everything from creating accessible digital documents to how to promote and maintain inclusivity in both the workplace and classroom.
Allison Kushner, director of disability equity and ADA coordinator, and the ADA team created the workshops to highlight the university’s resources and show how accessibility and disability are critical components of U-M’s diversity and equity.
“These workshops provide a unique opportunity to engage the university community in a wide range of topics related to accessibility and inclusion, not only for individuals with disabilities but for the wider community who can benefit from many of the universal design principles, accessibility principles and best practices that we will be discussing,” she said.
The series kicks off Oct. 3. It includes eight virtual sessions and one in-person meet-and-greet and resources fair from noon-4 p.m. Oct. 5 in the courtyard garden outside the Michigan League.
At the fair, people will be able to meet members of the ADA team and representatives from different campus offices and groups that are working to advance inclusion and accessibility.
The ADA team is part of the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office. It serves as the central administrative team that supports units and employees with the interactive process of identifying reasonable accommodations to ensure employees with disabilities receive equal access to their employment.
The ADA team also consults on a wide range of ADA-related items, including physical accessibility reviews, assistance in creating and maintaining inclusive environments, and training on reasonable accommodations, disability inclusion, neurodiverse workplaces and disability etiquette.
“I hope that people take away a few things from these events,” Kushner said. “First, accessibility and disability inclusion is a key function of the work of ECRT, and those of us doing this work have a genuine passion and enthusiasm for disability inclusion for employees and any members of our community with disabilities.
“Secondly, for anyone that attends any of our workshops, I hope that they learn at least one thing they didn’t know before about the importance of disability inclusion and how they can take an active role in making our environment more accessible for everyone.”
Kushner stressed that members of the ADA team are always available to provide guidance or answer any questions.
“We really want people to feel comfortable engaging with us and having open and direct dialogue about these topics,” she said.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. It celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities and also showcases the supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and employees.
Kushner said raising awareness of the month can help promote best practices for workplace inclusivity at U-M and beyond.
“Just as this year’s NDEAM theme of ‘Advancing Access and Equity’ underscores, there is still much work to be done to ensure employees with disabilities have equal access to employment, and that employers create equitable and inclusive workplaces that value the strengths and abilities of all employees within their workforce,” she said.
“Many of the ideas born of disability inclusion benefit everyone, from curb cuts that assist individuals with strollers, to providing captions for individuals in loud environments, and the benefit of having multiple seating options for individuals of varying heights and sizes. These very basic examples underscore just how broadly thinking inclusively and adaptively can create a more inclusive environment for everyone in our community.”