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Disability Strategic Plan: Vision and Implementation

The vision outlined in the University Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility aligns with President M. Duane Nellis’ first Strategic Pathway to become a national leader for diversity and inclusion. During the investiture for Ohio University’s 21st leader, President Nellis affirmed the university’s commitment to recognize the importance and contributions of all members of our community. “We must establish an environment where diversity in all of its forms is welcomed and celebrated.”


Vision Statement

Ohio University sees Inclusion and Accessibility as becoming the guiding framework for educational and employment approaches throughout the University and a foundational consideration for all physical planning, resource allocation and service delivery.

Within its vision, PACDAP recognizes the importance of having all areas within our community involved and committed to working toward a more inclusive and accessible university. PACDAP thanks the many people across the university who are involved in the implementation of the Ohio University Disability Strategic Plan for inclusion and Accessibility. If you are interested in becoming involved in helping to make our university more accessible and inclusive for persons living with disabilities, please contact Dianne Bouvier, Director for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility and ADA/504 Coordinator, University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, at bouvier@ohio.edu.

Strategic Plan

The Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning (PACDAP) was charged with developing a comprehensive disability and accessibility plan for Ohio University. The culmination of a multi-year planning process yielded the Ohio University Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility (Word document), also available as a PDF.

The six priorities identified in the Strategic Plan are Leadership, Assessment, Inclusion, Communication, Universal Design & Assistive Technology, and Funding & Resources.

As the implementation work began in 2015, President McDavis repurposed the acronym “PACDAP” to signify “Presidentially Appointed Committee for Disability and Accessibility Promotion.” PACDAP currently serves as the umbrella steering committee guiding the implementation work for the Disability Strategic Plan.

Implementation Efforts by Year

Year One: 2015-2016

Based on the Strategic Plan, PACDAP established charges and goals for three implementation teams: Leadership, Communication and Universal Design & Assistive Technology Teams.  

The question “Can everyone access our programs, services and facilities?” serves as a guiding principle throughout implementation. PACDAP promotes the concept that we have a social responsibility to make decisions that reduce barriers and do not increase barriers for persons living with disabilities.  During the first year of implementation:

The Leadership Implementation Team created and piloted a tool for university departments to assess their own awareness and resource needs in becoming more inclusive and accessible.

The Communication Implementation Team worked with University Communications and marketing to establish a Communication Strategic Plan and design the communication brand, Accessible OHIO.

The Universal Design and Assistive Technology Implementation Team (UDAT) conducted research on an Information Technology Accessibility Policy and drafted its first version.

During October 2015, OHIO commemorated the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act with the ADA25 Celebration Series. From the ADA25 Anniversary Kickoff Celebration (video) to the final ADA25 Keynote (video), the university engaged in a celebration of educational, entertaining and enlightening programs.

In 2014, Ohio University and the City of Athens entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF), to educate and take action to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion for persons living with disabilities. This partnership provides a platform for collaboration to address mutual areas of concern.

Take a tour through the Athens campus to learn about many of the accessibility improvements within the built environment made from 2007-2016, shown in Accessible OHIO: Highlights and Improvements at Ohio University and the City of Athens (video, captioned and voiceover).

Highlights of the year’s strategic plan implementation charges, accomplishments and membership, and ADA 25 Celebration Series, can be found in the 2015-16 Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning (PACDAP) and Disability Strategic Plan Implementation Reports (PDF).

Further details about the 2015-16 year’s activities, Implementation Teams, and Reports can be found in the Reports archives.

Year Two: 2016 - 2017

During the second year of implementation, the reconfigured “Presidentially Appointed Committee on Disability and Accessibility Promotion" (PACDAP) focused on continuing the first year’s efforts and added a new implementation team and a new resource group.

The Leadership Implementation Team finalized the Department Self-Assessment for Inclusion and Accessibility and disseminated the tool to departments university-wide in the Spring of 2017. Doctoral students in the Patton College of Education reviewed the responses provided by over 110 departments and developed a rubric to organize the qualitative data.

The Information Technology Accessibility Policy Implementation Team (ITAP) replaced the Universal Design and Assistive Technology Team (UDAT). ITAP was instrumental in vetting and finalizing the policy draft, as well as identifying assistive technology resources and next steps for implementing the new policy. The policy focuses on assuring future purchases of hardware, software and third party vendor products are accessible. The CIO and ADA Coordinator co-sponsored the Information Technology Accessibility policy, which was approved by the Executive Staff Policy Committee on August 17, 2017.

The Universal Design in Facilities Implementation Team (UDF) provided recommendations to the Architecture, Design and Construction (ADC) Design Standards Committee that promote universal design concepts in our construction and renovation projects. Recommendations are described in the PACDAP and Implementation Team Annual Report. This team also reviewed our ADC and ADA process flow to identify ways we could improve the ADA accessibility input and processes (Word document).

The Communication Implementation Team provided support to all of the other implementation teams by developing strategic communication plans and providing information on the efforts conducted throughout the year. Highlights and links to articles are listed in the PACDAP and Implementation Team Annual Report.

In implementing improvements, PACDAP also created the Accessibility Liaisons, a group of students, faculty and staff who understand disability impact. As people who live with disabilities, work with people who have disabilities or are family members of people who live with disabilities, the Accessibility Liaisons serve as a resource to inform our decision-making around accessibility and inclusion at the university. Accessibility Liaisons presented to the Board of Trustees October 2016. They serve in this role as both an internal resource with the university and an external collaborative resource with the City Commission on Disabilities through the City/University Memorandum of Understanding.

The over 70 implementation team members were invited each semester to hear about the progress made by all of the PACDAP implementation teams.

2016-2017 Membership and Charges

Further details about the 2016-17 year’s activities, Implementation Teams, and Reports can be found in the Reports archives.


Year Three: 2017-2018

During the third year of implementation, 2017-2018, PACDAP is reframing its purpose and goals in concert with the progress made during the past two years and new institutional leadership. During President M. Duane Nellis’s investiture, he articulated that becoming a national leader for Diversity & Inclusion is his first Strategic Pathway for the university. His vision parallels the Disability Strategic Plan implementation efforts to have a university that embraces accessibility and inclusion for persons living with disabilities.

Some of the initiatives completed during the first two years are continuing on the department level, allowing closure for some of the implementation teams and opening up opportunities for new initiatives to begin.

The Information Technology Accessibility Policy Implementation Team completed its work with the adoption of the Information Technology Accessibility Policy 04.001. OIT, the ADA Coordinator, and Procurement and Contract Services are implementing this policy within the university.

The UD-Facilities Implementation Team leaders are working with Architecture, Design and Construction and University Planning to review project flow recommendations to augment accessibility review processes. In October, draft recommendations were presented to ADC Project Managers, and ADC, Facilities Management and University Planning leadership.

Under the project management of University Planning, Ohio University is in the process of hiring a consultant to assist with creating an ADA Transition Plan to remove barriers. The UD-Facilities Implementation Team is “on pause” during this process. An ADA Transition Plan identifies existing accessibility barriers on the Athens campus and provides a strategy for remediation that synchronizes with our Campus Master Plan, other university projects and resources. Regional and extension campuses are expected to be reviewed in the future.

The initial project for the Leadership Implementation Team was to create a mechanism, through a department self-assessment, for the university community to reflect upon its departments’ understanding and readiness in incorporating accessibility and inclusion by assessing training, communication, policies and procedures, service response management and physical barriers. PACDAP and the Leadership Implementation Team have reviewed the results of the Department Self-Assessment for Inclusion and Accessibility. The results will be communicated to OHIO Leadership and the university community. PACDAP will work with OHIO Leadership to respond to the findings and resource needs. The Leadership Team concluded this primary task November 2017 and the team will be reformed during the next stage of implementation.

A new group of Accessibility Liaisons has been brought together to continue their role as an internal and external resource to the university and Athens community.

Further details about the 2017-18 year’s activities, Implementation Teams, and Reports can be found under Reports.