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Group aims to improve access to MIT

Who can help and how is the focus of an ad hoc working group formed to coordinate the efforts of the many offices and individuals at MIT that provide services to those with disabilities.

Expertise among the group's members includes access renovation and construction, human resources, student services, information and telecommunication systems and legal considerations Employees with disabilities are also represented in the group. Most members have operating responsibilities in the implementation of services to the disabled.

Among specific projects underway are:

  • A service database is being designed by M. Susan Jones, coordinator of the ATIC Lab (Access Technology for Information and Computing) which provides and tests adaptive computer equipment for MIT students and employees. The database will match people who need accessibility services from MIT with the offices that provide them.
  • ������Michael Owu of the Planning Office is updating the Institute's barrier removal program. With the help of student data collectors, Mr. Owu is surveying the campus to determine priorities and establish an organized process to remove barriers around campus.
  • ������Roy Ward serves as a resource for path-of-travel and compliance information in construction and renovation projects. A staff architect and designer in Physical Plant, he will play a major role in implementing the barrier-removal program.
  • The group is writing a new section entitled "Accessibility Services" to be included in the Offices and Programs listing of the MIT Directory this year. A new e-mail address to monitor questions and concerns about accessibility issues at MIT also will be established.
  • Members are also working with Human Resources to develop a job description for an ADA/Accessibility Assistance Coordinator, whose responsibility will be the maintenance and distribution of all information regarding these services.

At the direction of Senior Vice President William R. Dickson, the group was organized by Stephen D. Immerman, director of special services, to focus MIT's implementation of services covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

That act regulates employment practices in the federal government and by federal contractors, establishes architectural and transportation norms and accessibility standards and guarantees equal access to entities that receive federal funds.

"One of the most important aspects of this legislation is that it enhances our awareness of why it was needed in the first place," according to Paul Parravano of the Office of Community and Government Relations and a Disabilities Advisory Committee member. He cited research that shows that unemployment or underemployment among people with disabilities reaches 60-75 percent, despite willingness to work and a qualified applicant pool.

Anyone wishing information about the ad-hoc group should contact Mr. Immerman or John Squillante in the Office of the Senior Vice President, x3-6879 (ENTRY) or e-mail .

(This article is available in alternative formats. For information, call M. Susan Jones, x3-5111, or send e-mail to )

A version of this article appeared in the September 14, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 4).

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