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Friday, Oct 31, 2014

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Both Institutional Equity and Disability Services expanding staff


The Office for Institutional Equity and the Office of Disability Services are no longer "roommates," but still share a desire to improve the accessibility of Ohio University for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. 

Disability Services is now a part of University College's academic support programs and has moved to Baker University Center 348. In addition to the physical move, Disability Services will, in the next few months, sharpen its focus by becoming an office devoted solely to serving students with disabilities. Institutional Equity, the University civil rights compliance office, remains in its longtime location of Crewson House.

"Disability Service's change of location allows its staff to focus on academic issues in a more physically accessible, centrally located office," said Laura Myers, executive director of Institutional Equity.

Historically, Disability Services was part of Institutional Equity. In 2008, Disability Services branched off from Institutional Equity and joined the then newly formed Diversity Access and Equity division under the direction of Vice Provost for Diversity, Access and Equity Brian Bridges.

The recent reorganization of Disability Services to University College recognizes the office's focus on academic support for students with a goal of increasing retention of students with disabilities. Among those coordinating the switch are Myers, Bridges, and David Descutner, dean of University College.

Along with the new location, there will also be some staffing changes for both programs. Disability Services is in the process of filling the director position that has been vacant since summer 2010. In addition to directing the operations of the Athens campus DS office, the new director will also function as a regional campus
liaison with a focus of increasing consistency of service across the campuses.

With Disability Services shifting to a student focus, Institutional Equity will resume working with employees with disabilities. Institutional Equity is currently searching for an employee accommodation/campus accessibility officer to provide care for faculty and staff and to support regional campuses with accessibility compliance.

"The changes we are making will help each office specialize in serving the sometimes similar, sometimes very different needs of employees and students with disabilities," said Myers. "We rely on one another and our partners in the Diversity division, Human Resources, Student Affairs, and the regional campuses, just to name a few, to help us move beyond mere compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to embracing the spirit of the law."

For more information about Disability Services, call 740-593-2620 or visit http://www.ohio.edu/disabilities/. To learn more about Institutional Equity, call 740-593-9132 or visit www.ohio.edu/equity.