Disability Rights March and Rally
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The landmark provision in the ADA protects the rights of Americans with disability as a civil right, similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This year, to celebrate the 27th anniversary of ADA, a march and rally is being held on Wednesday, July 26 at the State Capitol grounds in Saint Paul. In her office on Metropolitan State University's Saint Paul Campus, Kristen Jorenby, director of the Center for Accessibility Resources (CAR), discussed the significance of this event.
Jorenby explained that Metropolitan State's CAR is participating in the event and says she was surprised when she had been selected to emcee the event.
"I've been tapped for a lot of things but never been asked to be an emcee." Jorenby said. "I've been involved with the community a number of years. I sit on the board of Access Press, so people know me from there. I used to spend quite a bit of my time up at the legislature, so I'm known up there, too."
Regarding the event's significance, Jorenby said, "Given the current political climate, the community is really concerned about cuts to healthcare, their ability to remain independent and cuts to transportation funding. We have problems within the system that continue to exist. The ADA is a huge civil rights act. And this [event] is really a chance for people to celebrate that and reassert that they have this civil right, and they are not going to let them be taken away."
On how Metropolitan State fares regarding accessibility issues for our students and staff with disability, Jorenby said that the university's commitment to the issue is part of its mission statement: "The university will provide accessible, high-quality liberal arts, professional, and graduate education to the citizens and communities of the metropolitan area, with continued emphasis on underserved groups, including adults and communities of color."
Jorenby also emphasized that this is a shared responsibility of everyone here at the university, and that the issue is not just about physical access. Access to documents, websites and classroom materials are also critical to enable accessibility for all.
Over the years, CAR has provided training on universal design that has taught faculty and staff members how to make courses and documents universally accessible, and has held several workshops such as, "How and When to a Disclose Hidden Disability Panel."
CAR also launched the Read & Write software last spring through D2L. The software is a multi-use tool available for free to all students and faculty to help them with reading, writing and language learning. Jorenby pointed out that this speaks to Metropolitan State's commitment to create an accessible educational environment that makes life better for all of our students.
Some of the ways students, staff and faculty members at Metropolitan State can continue to stay engaged to improve the quality of accessibility for all is by taking part in these workshops and trainings organized by CAR. Students are also encouraged to volunteer to become peer notetakers every semester.
Everyone is welcome to contact CAR directly with any questions, concerns, or if they just want to get linked up to different resources either internally or externally.
Accommodations for the orientation and rally include ASL interpreters, CART, and audio description. For more information or to confirm audio description services or to request a reasonable accommodation not listed above, please contact Cindy at ADA Minnesota, 651-603-2015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, by July 7, 2017.