One of the major problems with the University Accessibility Center is that the process for getting accommodations is not well-known. Many people don’t know that it exists, or they don’t know where it is. When they go, there is no clear criteria for what accommodations you can get for which disabilities. Additionally, to many students it appears as if the UAC is trying to not give accommodations, or trying to make it difficult for students who have obvious disabilities to receive them.
A few suggestions will help the UAC function more smoothly:
Internal processes: The UAC serves many clients. They can serve many more by streamlining some parts of their accommodation process. Some cases are complicated and should be handled by full-time employees at the UAC. However, some cases are simple: a student provides a clinical diagnosis of depression, or some other disability. These cases warrant little scrutiny and could be handled quickly by part-time employees or even through an automatic process.
Transparency: Some students are bewildered when they are told that they do not qualify for accommodations, and without any explanation they are unlikely to challenge the UAC’s decision. The UAC should, as a policy, make the process of accommodations transparent by publishing a guide of what disabilities get what accommodations and by justifying their decisions.
Visibility: Very few people know that the UAC exists, and it is notoriously hard to find. Some people feel that it is symbolically “trying to keep people with disabilities hidden”. The UAC needs to be more publicly advertised.
BYU culture is often self-centered. There needs to be a radical culture change to help people become more explicitly Christian. The administration can help people become more anxiously engaged through campaigns aimed at encouraging students to serve each other in meaningful ways (not necessarily organized).
A Blanket Solution
One way to cover many of these issues at once is by changing the way professors present the University Policies at the end of every syllabus. No one reads that part of the syllabus. One solution is to create a brief (less than 5 minute) video that covers the University Policies and is presented in each class at the beginning of the semester. Alternatively, the video could be required for all students and faculty to watch on their own time at the beginning of the semester. This video could explain and show the location of the UAC and Title IX offices as well as educate students on their responsibility to be engaged bystanders.