For one University of Oklahoma sophomore, getting to class isn’t about just waking up on time.
Alex Dean, who has a physical disability, faces challenges from elevators to sidewalks on his way to class.
Dean is part of the 11 percent of undergraduates who reported having a disability, according to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study.
People with disabilities are the largest minority group in America, according to recent research (The Association of Black Nursing Faculty, Inc.).
Dean benefits from the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires schools like OU to accommodate those with disabilities.
Suzette Dyer, director of OU’s Disability Resource Center, said she helps the school comply with national disability laws.
“According to disability law, accommodation is an interactive process,” Dyer said.
“All of our services are individualized [to help each student], so we just work with the students to help them figure out what their specific needs might be.”
However, many areas of OU’s campus are accessible—even if other students don’t realize that, said Dean.
“Sometimes, it seems like people will go out of their way to be nice, and it’s like, that’s nice, but at the same time, it’s like, ‘I got this. I can open that door,’” Dean said.
“When somebody runs from across the Union and is like, ‘Here, I’ll get that for you,’ it’s like, ‘OK. Thank you. You’re nice, but it’s never an issue.’”
The Disability Resource Center can help students like Dean find alternatives if their classes are in inaccessible buildings. Students with disabilities should contact Dyer at (405) 325-3852 for accommodation.