National Federation of the Blind and Blind Student Reach Agreement with Wichita State University
Wichita, Kansas (August 16, 2016): The National Federation of the Blind and Emily Schlenker, a blind student, have entered into an agreement with Wichita State University (WSU) to improve opportunities for blind students attending WSU.
The agreement resolves concerns raised by Ms. Schlenker with faculty and staff at the university and with the National Federation of the Blind. Under the agreement, WSU will take steps voluntarily over the next several years to improve the educational experience of blind students, ensuring they receive the opportunities provided to all students. Some steps being taken by WSU, with the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind, include:
- hiring or designating an accessibility coordinator;
- conducting a technology audit and, based on the audit results, developing a plan to make student-facing electronic and information technology used by WSU accessible to blind students;
- making WSU’s website and web interface to student and library information systems, as well as online forms, accessible to blind students;
- developing and implementing a plan to provide accessible instructional materials, including textbooks, course materials, and tactile graphics, to blind students at the same time that these materials are made available to other students;
- having WSU staff and faculty respond in a timely way to accommodation requests made by blind students;
- reviewing and revising, if needed, WSU’s policies and procedures for accommodating students with disabilities and for processing and resolving grievances brought by blind students; and
- having training of all Instructors and appropriate administrators as determined by WSU on WSU’s policies for accommodating blind students, as well as training for such students on their rights and the procedures available to them to enforce those rights.
Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We commend Wichita State University for acting quickly to resolve the concerns that Ms. Schlenker and the National Federation of the Blind raised, and for WSU's willingness to adopt a comprehensive, systemic approach to ensuring that all of its students, including the blind, receive an equal education. The National Federation of the Blind looks forward to providing our experience and expertise to WSU as this institution's dedicated faculty and staff work toward a fully inclusive educational environment.”
Tony Vizzini, Provost and Senior Vice President of WSU said: "We want every student of ours to be successful and contribute to society. WSU appreciates Ms. Schlenker raising these concerns on behalf of herself and similarly situated students. We are excited to be working with the National Federation of the Blind to enhance the educational experiences of our blind and visually impaired students."