What is current practice?
A mission statement is an action-oriented statement that describes how a vision will be achieved. Typical mission statements for disability service offices include components that focus on:
- Compliance with legal mandates
- Provision of services and accommodations that help disabled students be successful
- Significant responsibility of the disability resource office for institution-wide access
Traditional Sample 1
In accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the disability service office ensures that all educational programs are accessible to qualified students with disabilities through the provision of support services and accommodations which allow students to reach their full potential.
Traditional Sample 2
The mission of the disability service office is to provide support and accommodations that enable students with physical, learning and psychological disabilities to experience academic and personal success.
What are the implicit messages?
- Disabled students cannot achieve without support.
- The reason the institution provides accommodations or strives for inclusion is to avoid litigation.
- Responsibility for access is the responsibility of the disability service office.
How might this be different?
Mission statements can be drafted to represent disability as an aspect of diversity and access as an issue of social justice and equity. They can explicitly recognize the power of design to include or exclude and frame access as a campus-wide concern rather than an individual problem.
Refocused Sample 1
The disability resource office leads the campus community in its commitment to recognize disability as a valued aspect of diversity, to embrace access as a matter of social justice, and to design more welcoming and inclusive environments.
Refocused Sample 2
The disability resource office collaborates with the institution’s diverse community to ensure that all aspects of campus life — learning, working and living — are accessible. The office provides the institution with resources, education and direct services in order that people with disabilities may have an equal opportunity to participate and achieve.
Refocused Sample 3
Essential to the larger mission of the institution, the disability resource office promotes universally designed environments and facilitates accommodations, training, collaboration and innovative programming.
Refocused Sample 4
The disability resource office works to create inclusive learning and working environments and facilitate access, discourse, and involvement through innovative services and programs, leadership, and collaboration.
What is the potential impact of this change?
- The problem and the solution belong to the entire campus community.
- The office is seen as having a leadership role rather than sole responsibility.
- Disabled students are valued.
- The campus commitment is not simply a reaction to legal requirements but a part of a larger institutional commitment.
- The primary role is focused on creating a more inclusive campus rather than on accommodations or services to students.
- The stage is set for inserting disability resource professionals into larger campus discussions.