The office of Disability, Access, and Inclusion’s mission is to collaborate with the URI community to facilitate and create equitable access by design.
Formerly known as Disability Services for Students (DSS), our current title represents a more accurate depiction of DAI’s vision and role on campus. “Disability” was retained to reduce stigma through normalizing and affirming the identity-based term used by disabled individuals. “Services” was removed due to its negative association with the historical, hierarchical, medical/ charitable models which created and perpetuated generations of stigma, forced dependence, oppression, and marginalization.
In addition, federal laws that establish disabled individuals as a protected class with civil rights all contain “disability” as a term of identification. These laws intersect with post-secondary, and post-baccalaureate education because individuals experience barriers to access in those environments.
DAI affirms that disability is an essential identity group under the umbrella of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our programming, technology, resources, advocacy, and approach are perpetually evolving both proactively and responsively to meet our students diverse needs, and improve their experiences with access and inclusion at URI.
We commit to a universally accessible and neurodiverse living and learning environment. We guide the URI community towards dismantling the educational barriers that have historically marginalized disabled students, and ensure that their intersecting identities are welcomed, valued, and respected within the academy. As leaders in equity excellence, DAI seeks disability justice by continually assessing systemic barriers, decolonizing policies, and improving access so that all individuals have an equitable opportunity to fully participate in the higher education experience.
- To validate, reflect, and respect the identity of students in the disability community by retaining the word “Disability” in our name and communications.
- Dismantling negative connotations, ableism, and stigma informed by historical medical/charitable models of disability intervention, segregation, and treatment.
- Reframing the DAI office as a partner in intentional accessibility, not just for students, but as a resource for the entire campus community.
- Reiterating the concept that all community members at URI are accountable agents of inclusion. Inclusion is active work, and it is the shared responsibility of all community members to respectfully and intentionally integrate inclusive practices consistently into all aspects of campus life
- Working with URI leadership to ensure that disabled students are able to fully and accessibly participate in academic and social aspects of campus life.
- Partnering with faculty and program leadership to support the deliberate incorporation of access during the course content and instruction planning process. When accessibility needs are considered from the beginning, there is greater equity, and less need to retrofit accommodations.