[NABS-L] Discrimination in college

nmpbrat at aol.com nmpbrat at aol.com
Tue Dec 17 05:07:43 UTC 2019

Mikayla,Let me clarify what I said about how people would perceive you.  In no way was my comment meant to dissuade you from taking any actions you feel are necessary but was rather just a reminder of what may occur....that they may get very defensive and may even lash back out at you.  I share this from personal experience.  As I was going through my personal experiences, I had many people say to me "Oh, I could never do what you are doing."  They'd tell me how proud of me they were that I had the courage to do it...but said they personally could not have that same courage.  Not everyone has the same strength in them to tackle something like this, especially as big as a university like in your case.  It's been done though...and if you believe you can do it, that's all that matters.  I also know that prior to going through or even at the beginning of my legal experience...I though it would be clear cut...that the law was on my side.  Even with numerous attorneys working on my behalf who believed that my case was solid and even with support from the NFB, let's just say, it isn't always as clear cut and simple as it seems.  I hope for your sake, you are able to get it worked out internally through the formal process.  I thought that I would be able to do that in my situation too...but unfortunately, that wasn't what happened.  Instead, my employer lashed back out at me and attacked me on a professional level.  It was totally unfounded and ultimately got them nowhere....but I'd be lying if I said it didn't send me reeling and wondering if I had made the right decision.  I guess my point was simply to remind you to be a little guarded and grounded, as the process can be very messy and complicated at times and you need to go into it with a realistic viewpoint.  This doesn't mean though that you shouldn't fight for what is right.  Although messy at times, in the end, mine was totally worth it.  I'm hopeful yours will be too.  Nicole

-----Original Message-----
From: JASON ALAMILLO via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Cc: JASON ALAMILLO <leadershipjba at gmail.com>
Sent: Mon, Dec 16, 2019 11:29 pm
Subject: Re: [NABS-L] Discrimination in college

Hi Mckayla, I am so sorry I did not get back to this awesome conversation
on the day you sent it, I was completing my finals. I think it is atrocious
disgusting it out rages that schools and Disability Resource Center‘s, if
we can even call them that, are acting in such a profoundly discriminatory
and callous manner. first, on the whole child development class issue, I’m
not an expert in child development courses, but what I will say is that I
don’t think switching you centers is the greatest idea but if it serves the
purpose of you learning what you have to and getting the experience you
need, I agree. on the other hand, I would say this to you, having them
switch you to another center is basically telling them that they are
correct and they shouldn’t accommodate, every excuse they gave you about
needing to hear and see everything that’s going on it’s just a blatant way
to discriminate against you so that they don’t have to accommodate you. and
so I would come up with solutions on how you could actually take the course
and still observe the children and the food and all other kinds of issues.
I do not have any for you unfortunately, but that’s what I can tell you on
that front.
Now onto something I have had a lot of experience in, first I think it was
good that you did go with another professor instead of the professor who
apparently felt quote-on-quote overwhelmed. but you are in the right here,
you sent the email weeks prior to the semester, the excuse that the class
would be too visual is just a barbaric excuse. It is just a way for the
university officials to calm their professor down and make her feel better.
I will suggest what others have, sending an email to the professor,
possibly the chair of the English department, and the disability specialist
who you are assigned to, asking for a meeting to discuss every
accommodation you will need. And then I would have the Disability Resource
Center swear that they would provide you those accommodations along with
the professor, and holding them to that account. Now as for your grievance,
first, I would file it, for me to out of three issues is enough, but the
fact that two of them had to do with the Disability Resource Center, it
just shows a few things. first, it shows that the director of the
Disability Resource Center has a lack of character and judgment, and does
not know how to do his or her job. They don’t know how to keep their staff
in line and actually make them work to help students with disabilities.
next, it shows that those working in the Resource Center do not know how to
work with people with disabilities, are not qualified to work with people
with disabilities, or don’t care, I would go with all three. there is a
lack of communication here and it is not your fault, but it is the fault of
every university official, the dean of humanities, the dean of students,
and, your instructors as well as the Resource Center.
I believe that you should make this complaint and file it because they
obviously are not learning, they don’t understand or care about the
situation at hand and are obviously asking for a lawsuit to happen. When
your meeting with the dean of humanities, the dean of students, the
Resource Center professors department chairs and others, I would record
everything, every meeting, every conversation, and I would make them aware
that what they are doing is a breach of contract, discrimination, and
breaking of the law, of the rehabilitation act of 1973, and the Americans
With Disabilities Act, and should anything happen to where they do not
correct themselves and the process, they will be liable in the court of law.
I noticed a comment by Nicole about telling you that you should be aware of
how people will perceive you in the Resource Center and other officials,
just a piece of advice, that doesn’t matter. Anytime that you have to fight
for your rights and hold people accountable to the law and to procedures,
they are always going to perceive you negatively, and if they start
mistreating you or rigging the process against you, it just proves their
point and you could hold them liable again, and it would be worse for them.
Don’t care about what people think about you, it can get to you but ignore
it, they obviously don’t care what you think of them, they didn’t care to
help you, and their lack of assistance and doing their jobs is what got
them here in the first place. I have a philosophy, and it goes like this,
and this is to people that I hold accountable, I don’t care what you think,
I don’t care how you feel, you got yourself in this situation, you have to
get out of it, you attacked my rights as a student with a disability, now
I’m here to hold you accountable and if you don’t like it, well go cry in
your little corner with all your other club members in the same
predicament, because I’m standing here for myself. yes this is a little
harsh but at the same time, that mindset is what has gotten me through
college, and it has shown people that should they come against me one more
time or do things out of malice or anger, I will come at them yet again,
and officials and judges will start knowing and noticing that this is a
reoccurring issue which would go worse for them.
I am extremely proud of you, you are brave and you bring so much hope to me
as a student with a disability who has had and continues having issues with
various departments in my university. If you ever wanna talk about this,
you can email me or you can call me or text me at this number. 702-762-6296.

On Mon, Dec 16, 2019 at 7:54 PM Emily Schlenker via NABS-L <
nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:

> You are doing the right thing! File it, and document everything. You are
> in the right, and people need to do better.
> Sent from my iPhone
> > On Dec 16, 2019, at 9:42 PM, Mikayla Gephart via NABS-L <
> nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> >
> > Good evening Federation family,
> >
> >    First of all, I would like to thank Nicole and Emily for responding
> to my message. I would also like to thank the rest of you for helping me
> learn that it is okay to advocate for myself, and that I can “live the life
> I want”. I am writing to update everyone on the latest developments, but
> want to respond to one of the messages I received. I am still open to any
> and all thoughts.
> >
> >    Nicole, your message was extremely informative. While the grievance
> will only concern the incident with the English class due to the timeline,
> I am keeping what you said about the Child Development class in mind for
> the future. I am in complete agreement that the standards for Child
> Development should only be required for staff, but this school the college
> partners with requires these standards of observing students as well. This
> particular school also encourages parents to volunteer in the classroom, so
> I am guessing this would exclude blind parents. It is that whole issue of
> children being taken from their blind parents, but in a new form. I also
> agree that fighting these issues is not as simple as I would hope. To be
> honest, I have thought about how the Disability Services staff would
> perceive me, and that’s the only thing that scares me about filing the
> grievance. However, I feel like I am left with no choice. I love the
> students and professors, but the administration and Disability Services
> office need to learn that they cannot pull these things off with me
> anymore. I have seriously thought about not fighting this battle, but I
> have had three issues in six months. If I do not speak up beyond informal
> meetings, what will they try next. Two of the three incidents I mentioned
> in my previous message directly involved Disability Services, and I spoke
> with the people involved after each incident. I feel like I have gotten as
> far as I can with informal meetings.
> >
> >    Today, I met with the Dean of Students (who handles the Disability
> Grievance Procedure) to discuss filing a formal grievance. I came prepared,
> knowing that my goal was not to intimidate or attack but to hopefully
> inspire a change in policies that would improve the experience for all
> students. I told the dean that I thought the procedure should be adapted so
> that they are required to discuss any issues with the student and the
> Disability office before they put in a request for a student to change
> classes. I said all of this, and the Dean of Students did not disagree with
> what I said, but I felt she sided more with the Disability Services office
> and the English department even though she is supposed to be neutral
> according to the grievance procedures. The Dean of Students requested I
> meet with the Dean of the Humanities school after our meeting. The Dean of
> the Humanities school is over the English and Child Development classes. I
> agreed to the meeting, as the first step of the grievance procedure is to
> resolve things informally, and I had not met with anyone involved with the
> request. I want to make a good-faith effort to resolve things informally if
> at all possible, regardless of my personal opinions. The Dean of Students
> also said that sometimes the dean over a certain department will meet with
> department heads and professors to make sure that students are in the most
> appropriate section of a class to meet their needs. I accepted this, but
> still expressed that it could have been handled in a manner that respected
> my input as a student. She did not admit that I was discriminated against,
> but I knew enough not to expect her to admit it.
> >
> >    After I met with the Dean of Students, I met with the Dean of the
> Humanities school. She admitted that the professor I originally selected
> felt overwhelmed with the idea of providing descriptions of visual
> materials with only a few weeks notice. This is despite the fact that I
> sent her an email on November 2nd. The professor that was recommended to me
> by the English department does not teach every semester and has a lot of
> experience making materials accessible. I said that if they had framed it
> in that way from the beginning, I would not have a problem. She admitted
> that  the lack of direct communication with me as the student is part of
> the problem, and said she wants to improve the process so this does not
> happen again. She also recommended I take the next required English class
> with the professor I originally chose, and that with a whole semester to
> prepare the professor would be ready to provide descriptions. I am prepared
> to refuse the suggestion, because the professor clearly did not want me in
> her class and they are simply offering this to appease me.
> >
> >    Besides what I mentioned above, there were two things that annoyed
> me about my conversation with the Dean of the Humanities School.  For one
> thing, she said I was never denied entrance into the professor’s class even
> though that is how it was portrayed to me. She also tried to invalidate my
> feelings by saying that she is not a lawyer and does not know whether or
> not it is discrimination, but wanted to focus on how I felt. She was silent
> when I told her that I felt discriminated against. I knew that they may try
> to do this, but it still was frustrating.
> >
> >    While I think the meeting was a small success in some ways, I am
> still not satisfied. I did not file the grievance yet as the Dean of
> Students wanted me to have these meetings as part of the informal grievance
> process. However, I am going to proceed with the formal process as soon as
> possible. The grievance procedure primarily puts the burden of action back
> on Disability Services (where I feel part of the problem is), but I am
> hoping that at least this will show them that they cannot do this to me
> anymore. I appreciate all the advice, and am considering each idea
> carefully.
> >
> > Happy holidays,
> > Mikayla
> >
> >> On Dec 13, 2019, at 12:31 AM, nmpbrat at aol.com wrote:
> >>
> >> Mikayla,
> >> I'm sorry to hear about your experiences in college.  I can certainly
> appreciate and understand your feelings and frustrations, as I have dealt
> with discrimination both at the college level and employment level.  To be
> candid, in college, my discrimination experience was solely with one
> professor and after many sleepless nights, I made the decision not to take
> it to the formal level.  In my employment situation, on the other hand, I
> spent the past 5 years fighting it in the legal system.
> >> I have some thoughts and things you may want to consider and think
> about in each of the situations but please understand, I am in no way
> trying to minimize or diminish what you have been through.  I also know
> though, that fighting battles such as these aren't as simple as you might
> think or as clear cut as you might think, even with the ADA "on your
> side".
> >>
> >> First, if you decide you want to go through with the formal grievance
> process, you will want to go into the process knowing exactly what you
> want.  Now, let me explain what I mean by that.  Yes, they'll want to know
> your concerns about what has happened in the past to bring you to this
> point, although they likely will probably have a pretty good idea.  But,
> simply telling them what you don't want is not going to be good enough.
> You need to be able to articulate exactly what you do want.  In other
> words, what does that look like?  For example, in the case of the Child
> Development class...simply telling them that you don't want to be excluded
> from it isn't going to be enough.  You will need to come in prepared with
> possible remedies or solutions to the problem.  So, if it were me, I would
> tell them that to fix the problem, they need to assign you to a different
> child development center and one in which does not allow access to food all
> day long.  Honestly though, i don't know why the regulations apply to you
> as a student observer...they really only should apply to the employees
> themselves.  Then, they need to provide you with a sighted assistant (like
> someone would have if they were taking a science class with labs) who can
> describe to you what they see.  So, instead of asking the students
> questions (if the professor feels that it is inappropriate at this stage),
> you can then ask the necessary questions to your sighted assistant during
> your observations.  I would go on to explain though, that if you would
> pursue child development, that you would handle things in such a way that
> communication with the kids would be essential.  As a side note, I am a
> public school teacher for the past 18 years, so I had my share of
> observations to do as well.  So in other words, they will need to mold the
> child development program to fit your needs and provide accommodations as
> necessary, such as the sighted assistant, to meet the requirements.  In the
> case of the observations, even with a sighted assistant, you will still
> need to know the right questions to ask that person in order to get the
> necessary information you are required to get.  The child development
> center they have chosen can't possibly be the only one in the area, so they
> need to step out of their comfort zone and find an alternative....but
> understand that if you don't go in asking for it, they aren't going to
> likely offer something like this up to you.  Ultimately, there are ways to
> work around the requirements of the program, it just might take a little
> thinking outside the box.  If your college happens to have faculty who
> teach courses specifically about special education, disability studies,
> etc....you can always suggest that if your professor in the child
> development program feels more comfortable talking with colleagues, that
> they may get some ideas from their fellow colleagues as well on how to make
> things work.
> >>
> >> As to the professor who decided they didn't want you in your class.
> Yes, that is absolutely discriminatory and ridiculous.  With that said, you
> probably made the best decision possible by taking the class with the other
> instructor.  Forcing the situation, would likely have only made things hard
> on you.  It would have punished you more than them.  Again, if you choose
> to address this in your grievance, you need to not simply go in saying that
> the professor shouldn't be allowed to do it in the future.  Ask for more
> concrete specific measures for them to correct.  Be proactive.  Ask them
> about changing their protocols and procedures.  For example, maybe the
> professor must meet with the student and disability services representative
> to discuss the situation before they can make the request to not have the
> student in their class.  Maybe you suggest that disability services
> provides training to professors about having students with disabilities and
> providing accommodations to them, as maybe this professor is simply not
> well educated enough and if they had better training, they would have a
> better attitude about it.  As a side note, this "training" idea was
> actually something I used as part of the legal settlement with my
> employer.  Again, don't just tell them what they didn't do.  Sometimes,
> people actually need it spelled out for them what they actually need to do
> because they simply don't know.
> >>
> >> My final thought is this.  When you take these types of things to a
> formal level, it changes the whole landscape of the situation and will
> possibly change how you are viewed and perceived by others, including those
> in the Disability Services Department....even if you are totally in the
> right.  Just know that, right or wrong, it will likely change at least some
> individuals' views of you.  Word will likely get out in the ranks of the
> professors, especially if you eventually pick a major and you will be known
> as the girl who "filed a formal grievance".  I guess my point is
> this....just keep in mind that although the formal process could get you to
> a place where you get exactly what you need....there are always two sides
> to every sword.
> >>
> >> I wish you the best of luck in dealing with a very difficult situation
> but I'm confident you will find success in the end.
> >> Take care,
> >> Nicole
> >>
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Mikayla Gephart via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
> >> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list <
> nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
> >> Cc: Mikayla Gephart <mikgephart at icloud.com>
> >> Sent: Thu, Dec 12, 2019 12:42 pm
> >> Subject: [NABS-L] Discrimination in college
> >>
> >> Hi all,
> >>
> >>    I hope you are all doing well, and that your final exams are going
> well. As many of you know, I started my first year of college in August
> after nine months at the Colorado Center for the Blind. I have enjoyed my
> college experience, but the Disability Services office has been extremely
> frustrating.
> >>
> >>      The week after I graduated from CCB in June, I had to attend a
> mandatory pre-orientation for college. Despite the fact that I had been
> corresponding with the Assistant Director for Disability Services since
> April and had sent in my documentation proving I was blind, they were not
> prepared for me at all. There were millions of print papers floating around
> that were not provided in an accessible format, and they required I do an
> online strengths test I had not been told about. I ended up having someone
> read everything to me so I could get everything out of the day, but I was
> upset. A few days after the reorientation, I met with the Assistant
> Director for my intake interview. She apologized and said she would never
> let this happen again. I believed her!
> >>
> >>    After I received my schedule for the fall, I sent an email to all my
> professors introducing myself. During the week before classes started, I
> met with most of my professors. I am still undecided about my major and
> career goals, but I mentioned during the pre-orientation that I was
> considering majoring in Child Development. The Academic Advising team
> chooses schedules for all incoming freshmen based on our preferences as we
> mentioned on forms and at the pre-orientation, and they placed me in the
> introductory Child Development class. This class has a lab component at a
> local private preschool. The college I am attending is also a private, but
> they receive Financial Assistance funding from the government. When I met
> with my Child Development professor, I was told that the private school
> (where all students in this class fulfill their lab component) refused to
> allow me to complete my lab there. According to my professor, the school
> sited the North Carolina Division of Early Childhood Development and
> Education’s safety standards for supervision. She read out some of the
> standards, but I do not have a copy. From what my professor said, the
> standards say that staff in a school must be able to “see and hear”
> children eating. She said that the way the school is set up is that food is
> out during all times of the day, not just at lunch time. She also said that
> the school interprets this standard to mean that any adult in the class
> must be able to see and hear the students eating in case they choke. I feel
> like this in itself is wrong on so many levels! The fact that the state
> even has this standard is ridiculous, and the school’s interpretation is
> just as discriminatory. My professor also expressed some reservations about
> my ability to observe the students, even if the private school allowed me
> to observe in their school. She was pretty set on observation being a
> visual process, but was open to me reaching out to other teachers to find
> out how they handled it. I suggested I would gather information by
> interacting with the children, but she said that students observe and write
> down notes while off to the side so as not to interfere. We decided that I
> would take a General Education class during the fall, which would give us
> more time to figure out how to make Child Development work. I agreed, since
> it was so close to the start of the semester. I kept it together during the
> meeting, but I was devastated! However, I decided to let it go. I was still
> deciding on majors and careers anywhere, and it was four days before I was
> supposed to move in to the dorm and I wanted to keep focused on that.
> >>
> >>    Most of my first semester of college went without a hitch. I was
> provided with all materials in an accessible format, and I enjoyed getting
> to know most of my instructors and fellow students.
> >>
> >>    When it came time to register for classes on October 25th, I was
> extremely excited. I chose all of my classes carefully, thinking about how
> much time I would have in between classes and asking for recommendations of
> professors from other students. On November 2nd, I sent an email to all my
> professors introducing myself. I heard back from every professor except for
> my English professor.
> >>
> >>    On November 25, I was told by the Disability Services office that
> the English department requested that I switch to another professor’s
> class. The English Department had 23 days from the time of receiving my
> introduction email to bring this up. Of course it was right in the middle
> of my finals. This could have been handled November 2 with a meeting
> including me of course. The reason given was that the professor I chose
> uses “visual materials”. I took Statistics this semester, and Statistics
> uses a lot of visual material. To me, this seemed like a thinly veiled
> excuse to keep me out of her class. I decided to switch to the professor
> they recommended because I do not want a professor who does not want me and
> because I found out that my new professor is great at making materials
> accessible. I am still upset!
> >>
> >>    After I had some time to process the news, I sent a strong email to
> the Disability Services staff and the Dean of Students, even using the word
> discrimination. The Disability Services staff asked to meet with me last
> week, and I came prepared with strong but polite comments. Unfortunately,
> they did not seem to understand that this is discrimination. The Assistant
> Director came with several guesses, but never bothered to find out why the
> English department did not want me in this professor’s class. One of her
> guesses was that the Dean of the Humanities School, who made this request,
> thought the professor they recommended would be a better fit because of her
> experience making materials accessible, and that she does not think the
> Dean meant to discriminate because she is extremely student-centered. I did
> not feel like they understood how I feel about this.
> >>
> >>    I feel like I need to speak up about this. I have had three issues
> so far. What’s next? I love the professors and students, and want to stay
> here. I have gotten them to follow the ADA requirements for railings and
> braille signs, so I am getting through somewhat. However, I am still not
> satisfied, so am going to file a formal grievance through the college’s
> grievance procedures. They need to start following the law, and I will not
> allow this to happen again to me or any other blind students. I go from
> sadness to anger to determination, and wish things did not have to
> exculpate this far. I would love to have positive and informal
> relationships with the Disability Services staff for the next three years,
> but I need to let them know I am serious. I have lost faith in informal
> conversations, so think a formal grievance is the next step. Any advice or
> encouragement will be appreciated. This is an extremely frustrating
> experience, but I will not back down.
> >>
> >> Mikayla
> >> _______________________________________________
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