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Enhancing Accessibility and Inclusion at VCU: ASDCC's Productive Meeting with Dr. Michael Rao

The scene depicts five individuals in business casual attire posing for a photograph. The person on the left is wearing a green button down and black pants. The person next to them is wearing a blue blazer, a black shirt, and blue patterned pants, and is carrying a purse in the shape of a chicken. The person in the center is wearing a blue suit, white button down shirt, and yellow striped tie. The person next to them is wearing a brown dress with a black blazer. The person on the far right is wearing a black suit.
From left to right: Shannon Kane, Ellie Bavuso, Dr. Michael Rao, Jada Robinson, and Cameron Hart

We are excited to share the outcomes of ASDCC's meeting with Dr. Michael Rao, the President of VCU, which took place in March. During this important discussion, ASDCC's executive board members, along with university representatives, addressed the experiences and needs of students with disabilities and chronic conditions at VCU. The meeting served as a platform to advocate for change and foster a more accessible and inclusive environment on campus.

Dr. Rao acknowledged the ongoing need for progress in ensuring full accessibility and inclusivity for students with disabilities at VCU. He highlighted the importance of individualized education and leveraging students' unique strengths to shape the future of learning. Driven by a commitment to excellence, he expressed his vision for VCU to lead in this educational transformation.

Key topics of discussion included the importance of professor training, empowering the Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity (SAEO) office with greater authority in enforcing accommodations, raising awareness of disability issues on campus, implementing a system for sharing accessibility information among students, and creating a dedicated module in new student orientation for the transition to college life for students with disabilities.

The meeting also shed light on concerns regarding physical accessibility on campus and challenges faced in accessing the grievance process. Testimonials from students in the School of Arts highlighted inaccessible conditions and unfair treatment in response to student complaints. This gathering aimed to address these issues, promote accountability for ADA violations, and provide enhanced support to both students and SAEO.

The partnership between ASDCC and Dr. Michael Rao signifies the recognition and endorsement of ASDCC's valuable contributions and ideas in shaping a more inclusive campus. Together, we are committed to driving positive change, fostering a supportive environment, and ensuring that every student's voice is heard.

Stay tuned for more updates as we work towards creating an inclusive and empowering educational experience at VCU.

The logo for innovative inclusion, three individuals posed sitting together on stools. The individual on the left wears a pink tank top and shorts, and has a prosthetic arm. The person in the middle wears a pink short sleeved shirt and biker shorts, and has an afro. The person on the right wears a cropped orange tank top and leggings, and wears shades and holds a walking stick.

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