Disability Inclusive Excellence
The University of Chicago is committed to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for people of all abilities. Diversity and inclusion is a distributed responsibility, and you can make a difference. We invite you to use the Disability Inclusion Toolkit to analyze your unit’s current state and to create an action plan to foster greater inclusivity.
The toolkit is intended for all campus stakeholders: students, staff, faculty, and other academic appointees. Its purpose is to guide each unit (e.g., department, group, academic division, student organization, event organizer) through an analysis of the current state of disability inclusion; to identify areas for opportunity; to provide examples and resources for action; and to provide an assessment checklist to support the development of a sustainable model of disability inclusive excellence in all institutional programs, courses, events, and services.
Disability Inclusion Toolkit
This toolkit is organized by areas of focus. Please click on one of the areas of focus below to review a recommended list of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- Rewards & Recognition
- Training & Instructional Design
- Culture & Climate
- Policies, Systems & Infrastructure
- Does your unit or group include an inclusive statement on recruitment materials about recruiting and inviting individuals with disabilities to apply? For job postings, reach out to your HR partner for more information. For all others, reach out to Access UChicago Now for examples of specific language to use.
- Does your unit or group post openings to online job boards or contact recruiting agencies that focus on recruiting/hiring people with disabilities? (e.g., Inclusively, Lime Connect)
- Does your recruitment posting include an invitation to request an accommodation and/or explain the process to do so?
- Has your unit identified an individual who is knowledgeable to address disability accommodation requests in the recruitment or hiring process?
- Is your application and interview process accessible to people with disabilities? (e.g., Are forms available in alternative formats? Are digital applications accessible? Do you offer a sign language interpreter? Is the interview location physically accessible?)
- Does your interview or recruitment team include diverse identities, including people with disabilities?
- Does your unit or group raise awareness about digital and physical inclusivity as an integral part of orientation? (e.g., Does training and/or onboarding include specific content that addresses the shared responsibilities of all members to create and provide accessible digital content, to ensure physical accessibility is a priority, and raise awareness about the disability accommodation request process?)
Rewards & Recognition KPIs
- Does the unit have awards that recognize individuals for their contributions to disability and accessibility inclusive excellence? For example, are employees recognized and valued for their contributions to mentoring disabled students or employees; implementing universal design principles in teaching; embedding disability awareness into their initiatives, courses, training, and programs; and other disability inclusive activities?
- Has the unit identified key performance indicators that measure accessibility and inclusive excellence? If so, are these indicators tied to the performance management process and/or opportunities for advancement?
- Does the unit offer incentives, rewards, or recognition to people who have completed accessibility training or who have implemented inclusive practices for individuals with disabilities?
Training & Instructional Design KPIs
- Has leadership participated in disability or accessibility training in the last 3 years, giving a message to the rest of the unit of the importance of learning about and understanding accessibility and inclusiveness?
- Are people in your unit trained to have the skills and knowledge needed to successfully manage accessibility or disability accommodation requests (e.g., how to discuss issues of disability access while maintaining confidentiality)?
- Are leaders in your unit trained to possess disability or accessibility awareness competencies appropriate for their role and function? For example: Are faculty aware of their role in disability implementation? Are student leaders aware of their role to include and welcome students with disabilities?
- Does the unit have a clearly defined process for soliciting and implementing accessibility needs of everyone (e.g., sign language interpreting accommodation)?
- Are you able to offer alternative, equitable accommodations for individuals with disabilities so that they can fully participate in your program and activities?
- Are new and temp staff or faculty trained in or evaluated on disability inclusion and/or accessibility competencies (e.g., campus tour guides, camp counselors, and other public-facing positions)?
- Is there a diversity training requirement for the unit? If so, does your diversity training requirement include disability as an element of diversity?
- Are members of the unit made aware of the disability and accessibility resources on campus available to support individuals with disabilities (e.g., Center for Digital Accessibility and Employee Assistance Program)?
Does your unit offer training and communication about your accommodation request process? If so, does it include facility access, digital accessibility, testing accommodations, etc.?
- Does your unit offer a program to train members of the unit on accessibility and/or inclusive practices?
- Does your unit have a formal mentoring program or professional development program that is inclusive of people with disabilities?
- Do faculty/instructors include a disability statement in the syllabus?
- Do faculty/instructors adhere to principles of universal design and proactively imbed accessibility in the design of the course?
- Does training for instructors and teaching assistants include information about disability accommodations, awareness and universal design for instruction?
- Do instructors have the resources needed to implement the necessary accommodations for students with disabilities?
Culture & Climate KPIs
- Does the unit have a diversity or inclusive excellence statement that includes disability as part of their mission, values, and goals?
- Does leadership in the unit meet periodically with community members with disabilities to determine whether their accessibility needs are being met, to listen to their concerns, and offer support?
- Does the unit invest in the leadership development of individuals with disabilities?
- Does your unit provide a quiet space or private room for individuals to take a break?
- Is the unit’s accessibility statement prominently displayed in or on your marketing materials, website, course materials, event advertisements, wall art/posters, and other materials? Visit the Accessible Event Resource Guide (refer to Resources in Instructions) for an example.
- Does the unit take intentional steps to ensure that individuals with disabilities feel welcome (e.g., disability awareness presentations at student/staff/faculty meetings; ensuring the accessibility of events and activities)?
- During public and internal speaking opportunities, do leadership and members within the unit express the value of disability as a part of its diversity and inclusiveness?
- Are people with disabilities in leadership positions within the unit?
- Does your unit have targeted messaging on the value of including disability as a part of its diversity? (e.g., “Our diversity includes disability”; job posting stating that it welcomes disabled applicants, etc.).
- Has your unit received feedback from individuals with disabilities in the last year that they do not feel welcome or lack a sense of belonging?
- Does the unit have a designated individual who is responsible for taking lead on establishing, monitoring and reporting on accessibility and disability inclusiveness goals?
- Are members of the unit encouraged to participate in on-campus service or volunteer opportunities by mentoring and supporting individuals with disabilities?
- Does the unit promote opportunities for all students and employees to participate in disability communities and/or affinity groups?
- Are the traditions and celebrations of the unit inclusive of individuals with disabilities? Refer to the Access UChicago Now Accessible Event Resource Guide.
- Do members of the unit actively support and attend campus events focused on accessibility and disability inclusion?
- Has the unit conducted a climate assessment or survey that included an accessibility or disability inclusion question?
- If your unit offers activities and programs, are the activities planned and designed to meet the co-curricular needs of participants of all abilities?
- Does your unit offer alternative means of participation and/or attendance to support individuals of all abilities?
Policies, Systems & Infrastructure KPIs
- Is a broad range of accessibility inclusive goals included in the strategic planning and decision-making process of the unit?
- Does your unit develop and distribute clearly articulated policies and procedures relevant to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities to everyone in the unit?
- When new projects or initiatives are introduced to the unit, is disability accessibility a part of the inclusive excellence of the project and process?
- Does the unit provide guidance regarding how to address disability-related concerns and complaints (e.g., reporting or complaint process, bias or discrimination response protocol, etc.)?
- Have leaders allocated resources to support disability access or inclusion initiatives and projects?
- Are offices and spaces used by the unit physically accessible (both inside and outside)?
- Is accessibility excellence included as a key performance assessment metric in your unit? If so, how is it measured (e.g., Increase in number of disabled unit members; disability representations on projects that affect people with disabilities)?
- Are documents, forms, videos, websites and language used by the unit accessible and appropriate (e.g., forms are usable with screen reading technology, videos include captions and audio description, language is inclusive and non-ableist, etc.)?
- Does the unit annually examine and evaluate its accessibility goals with regard to disability access to ensure that they align with the University’s commitment to DEI?
- Does the unit consider disability representation in the membership of committees, task forces, work groups, and leadership?
- Has your unit allocated financial resources to support accommodations annually? (e.g., sign language or captioning services)
- Does your unit have an identified point of contact for requesting accommodations?
Four Steps to Inclusive Practices
Within each area, your unit can pass through four phases to strengthen your disability inclusive excellence practices:
Toolkit Video Training (coming soon)
This toolkit is a collaborative effort led by the Access UChicago leadership team, with contributions from members of the UChicago Accessibility Student Advisory Board, Diversity and Inclusion staff, and other disabled campus partners and allies.
We would like to acknowledge and thank Ball State University for inspiring our efforts with their Inclusive Excellence Plan, positioning diversity and inclusion efforts within the framework of inclusive excellence.