Dear Campus Community,
This past January marked the first full year of operations for Berkeley’s Office of Disability Access & Compliance (ODAC). We write to share an update on the office’s work thus far as well as to outline upcoming efforts to ensure that Berkeley meets the needs and interests of people in our community with disabilities.
Created in 2018 in an effort to centralize access and compliance resources, ODAC is now fully staffed to support our campus community with accessible physical environment programming, policy guidance, and electronic and website disability access and compliance. With the cooperation and support of campus partners, ODAC has:
Launched a new website, dac.berkeley.edu, that has up-to-date information and resources;
Directed more than $1 million dollars in disability compliance building and construction projects;
Processed more than 30 staff, faculty and student complaint and grievance cases, avoiding the filing of any new lawsuits or complaints from outside entities;
Provided ASL and captioning services for approximately 100 campus events;
Offered trainings, consultations, and other guidance to help colleges, schools, divisions, departments and programs campus-wide to ensure their activities and services are accessible to disabled community members; and
Advocated for causes important to disabled students, faculty and staff
On January 23rd ODAC launched Access 2020, the first ADA-mandated Transition Plan and Self-Evaluation our campus has undertaken since the 1990s. Access 2020 will entail a comprehensive audit of services, activities, programming, and our physical campus to find deficits in disability compliance. This audit will then be used to develop a remediation schedule that will guide our work for decades, so we can put our resources where they are most needed to ensure disability compliance and fuller inclusion. An Access 2020 website is now in beta form and will be announced soon.
The launch date for this effort is meaningful: it is when Californians celebrate Ed Roberts Day. Ed Roberts was a UC Berkeley alumnus as well as an early leader of the Disability Rights Movement. Ed played a particularly important role in helping integrate disabled students into the fabric of the campus here at Berkeley.
ODAC is partnering with Sally Swanson Architects (SSA) – a celebrated architecture and planning firm known for its attention to the needs of people with disabilities – on Access 2020. The firm’s leader, Sally Swanson, was a personal friend and colleague of Ed Roberts, and was part of the Berkeley-based Independent Living Movement that he helped shaped. Working with ODAC on Access 2020 is a poignant opportunity for SSA and for our community; we intend to emerge from this process prepared to act as a leader on university disability inclusion and access. Over the next 18 months, many of you will hear from the ODAC and SSA teams as they schedule time to talk, gather programmatic information, and hold town halls for community input. You may also notice them walking around campus, auditing almost 200 buildings and miles of paths and open space.
Other new developments of note in the realm of disability access and compliance include:
Accessible Events. Beginning in March, when faculty, staff or students place an event on the UC Berkeley Event Calendar, they will be prompted to enter the name of the event’s Access Coordinator and contact information. The Access Coordinators can then visit ODAC’s website and click on “Events” to find simple and easy-to-follow instructions on how to ensure an event is accessible, secure proper accommodations for the event, and determine how ODAC can support the effort;
Lending Library. Individuals and departments that need adaptive software, hardware or electronic equipment for more effective communication can now access these tools through the ODAC Lending Library. We are steadily building a library and can order and add requested items;
Rolling Website Audit. ODAC will be reaching out to campus units to guide them through a short assessment of their websites, with an eye towards helping them improve access if needed.
This is an exciting new phase for Berkeley, as we build on our rich history in disability access and compliance to become a place that truly invites every member of our community to participate fully in the campus experience. With an inaugural year successfully completed, Access 2020 in full swing, and a carefully curated selection of new service offerings, ODAC is positioned to be an increasingly valuable resource for our campus community in the coming year.
Vice Chancellor, Administration
ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer