As COVID-related safety measures decrease, many colleges and universities are returning to pre-pandemic approaches to education. Recently, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a story that highlights how COVID-precautions actually helped many students who required accommodations.
The article states, “Disabled students at colleges across the country are lamenting the loss of Covid-era hybrid learning and safety measures, like masking, that created a level of accessibility that some disabled students have been requesting for years.”
Let's take a closer look at some of the examples from the article.
Accessibility Advocates Fight for Continued Inclusion Amid COVID-Related Concerns
Courtney Bergan is a law student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore law school; they have a visual impairment (and a service dog) that were not obvious to others over Zoom during fall of 2020 when classes were online. At this time, they realized that people treated them differently than they had during in-person classes.
When the campus returned to in-person learning, Bergan was denied an accommodation that allowed them to participate remotely in class. Instead, they were instructed to watch recordings.
Bergan is the Lead Organizer for COVID Safe Campus, which two students founded in January 2022 in order to advocate for better COVID protections and disability inclusion in higher education. The organization also tracks the COVID policies at U.S. News & World Report's top-ranked 50 universities and top 25 public-health schools.
You Have a Right to Reasonable Accommodations
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantee “qualified individuals with disabilities” reasonable accommodations.
A lack of reasonable accommodations can make it more challenging for students to learn subject material in the classroom. This can have a cascading impact, such as a result of academic issues, which can lead to a failure to progress. Additionally, as in Bergan's experience, students can experience discrimination and bias in the classroom.
As the article noted, fighting on your own for accommodations can be exhausting. Self-advocacy is also not always the most effective approach. Students can get stuck in an administrative back and forth. A better alternative might be to consider working with an advocate who has experience with college administrations.
Nationwide Disability Accommodations Attorney-Advisor to Help You Access Reasonable Accommodations
If your university or college isn't providing you with the accommodations you need, an attorney-advisor with disability accommodations experience is critical. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have worked with hundreds of students and families nationwide. They can bring their many years of experience to your situation and help you navigate the process at your school in order to achieve the best possible results. Not only do you deserve reasonable accommodations, but you are guaranteed them by federal law. Contact the Lento Law Firm today with your questions by calling 888.535.3686 or reaching out online.