View the Dominican powerpoint presentation from the Universal Design workshop in 2019.
Be aware of others in the vicinity who may overhear confidential information that students share with you, especially students who disclose medical information. It is highly recommended that you speak to students in either: 1) A designated area or; 2) Make sure there is at least six feet of distance between the person at the counter and the next person in line. (Like lines at pharmacies, a sign and/or a marker on the floor to indicate where to wait in line may be placed in offices to ensure student privacy is protected).
Be prepared to have visitors and students with mobility challenges in your offices and buildings. Make sure there are no obstructions in any walkways (e.g. bulky chairs, cables, plants, trashcans, etc):
- Ensure there is plenty of room in offices and hallways, so that visitors and students in wheelchairs, canes, scooters and crutches, can move freely without possibly getting hurt.
- Report nonfunctioning elevators or handicap push buttons right away to facilities/maintenance.
- Report to facilities any spaces on campus where you see visitors, faculty, students, or staff members struggling to access. These spaces will often require a simple solution, such as a ramp or railing along the steps.
Be mindful of lighting in your area. When hallways and offices are too dark, people with vision problems can easily get hurt. However, if there are very bright florescent lights in your office, it can be harmful to people with migraines, sensitive eyes, and those prone to seizures.
Keep Office Spaces Sanitary
It can be detrimental to immune suppressed students and visitors (e.g. cancer, pregnancy, allergies to dust, etc) when our offices and buildings are not clean.
Here are important tips:
- Don't come to work if you think you may be contagious (because you could be putting someone's life in danger).
- Wipe down areas that visitors touch regularly (e.g. door handles, pens, arm rests, countertops).
- Avoid having strong scents in the area that can trigger migraines and other side effects.
- Some people have trichophobia, which is a fear of hair. So please use a lint roller regularly to remove hair, dust, and debris off of seating areas.
Flyers, Forms and Signs
All flyers, handouts, and forms should be in easy-to-read font. Whenever possible, use at least 14 point font and double space to accommodate those with visual impairments and reading disorders.
Make sure all signs are in easy to read font and that the font is big enough that people with visual challenges are able to read them with ease.
Also make sure there is a braille interpretation of your signage for students and visitors who cannot read visually.
- Offer to be a scribe
- Offer to read information out loud
- Do not touch students who are bind if they are bumping into things; instead give verbal direction
- Do not keep anything that can fall on them or they can bump into in the office
- Keep in mind the colors used on any forms and digital formats. Remember, many people who are colorblind cannot distinguish between red and green.
It is recommended to use patterns to code maps, instead of color coding maps.
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Let them see your lips moving when speaking
- Do not speak in a tone that is too low. If you are not sure if you are speaking loud enough to be heard, ask politely if you should speak louder.
For students and visitors who cannot hear at all, offer to write/type your words. This can be done on a small white board or piece of paper. However, an electronic device, such as Microsoft word on a tablet or computer is the best, because it's faster to type messages. It also allows the person who is hard of hearing to also type their responses/messages to you on the same document.
If you see someone struggling to read or write, offer to be a scribe and/or reader for them:
Most of the time, it's easy to tell if a person needs help writing/typing because they have a cast on their arm or they are blind. However, keep in mind that there are people who also need help writing or reading due to other reasons (e.g. they forgot to bring their reading glasses or they have arthritis, etc.). And until they disclose this information to you, you'd never know. So always pay attention to facial expressions and body language for signs that someone requires your extra assistance.
Be aware that what we say or how we treat people can affect them negatively. Some comments can be triggers for people with mental illnesses or those who have been victims of traumatic events.
Also, when offices and buildings are not accessible or do not offer spaces that have supports in the environment (such as a sitting area or a hand rail), it can cause students suffering, especially those who have chronic fatigue or have bad knees.
If it is obvious that someone waiting in line is struggling to stand, offer them a seat and have the person behind them hold their space in line for them.
Here are a few examples of invisible disabilities:
- Chronic fatigue
- Prosthetic leg
- Chronic pain
- Mental illnesses (e.g. PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc)
Note that in the case of an emergency evacuation where elevators are not working, staff members must have a plan to get all mobility impaired individuals and individuals with vision impairments out of their offices and buildings safely. Please have a clear plan, so that every staff member knows what to do.
In dire emergencies, some individuals will have to be carried out of the building, abandoning wheelchairs, canes and service animals.