Washburn University ensures accommodations for students


Kyle Etzel

Henderson’s elevator button signals it’s coming. The elevator was out of service for months last semester in Fall 2021.

When laws get passed there is a feeling of definiteness to policy, but the rights outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are left up to interpretation. This means, with proper documentation, schools can be permitted to not make certain accommodations.

The director of diversity and inclusion, Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, explained why she doesn’t use the word “rejected” when processing applications.

“What we do is we engage in what the law requires, and that’s an interactive process,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “We modify.”

The Student Accommodations office ensures the provisions of permission to record lectures,
provide presentation files and notes, extend test times, provide distraction-reduced testing environment and of course physical accessibility to the classroom. Implementation of a student’s application can take as little as one day to around a week.

“Part of the legal requirements is we ask for the student to verify that they have a disability, and we make sure that the request the student is making matches the disability that they have to make reasonable accommodations,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “There’s a whole bunch of case law about what that reasonableness is and what it means. We make a very individualized student by student determination, and course by course determination of what that is.”

Instructors are duly notified of students’ accommodations and directly communicate with the office. And so, because a student’s classes change every semester, students are requested to fill out an application each semester. Dempsey-Swopes and her office have managed thousands of accommodations for students, and they serve on average 225 students per semester.

But sometimes there are physical facility issues that occur outside of administration’s control. Many have heard about the accessibility issues regarding Carnegie as well as Henderson’s finicky elevator.

“We have some age on some of our buildings. Obviously Henderson has had issues with the elevator over the years,” said Eric Just, facilities services director. “Replacement parts get hard to find and are usually the delay once a technician troubleshoots the problem.”

Just explained that there is currently action in review with the State Board of Regents regarding renovations to Henderson in a couple of years and a potential installation of an additional elevator.

This, alongside senior elementary major Daija Coleman’s capstone Carnegie project, But Dr. Dempsey-Swopes and the Student Accommodations office are doing all they can in the meantime to assist Ichabods following their dreams.
Are two examples of accessibility progress attempted to be made around campus, but have been slowed due to budget allocations.

Edited By: Simran Shrestha, Ellie Walker, and Kyle Manthe