Call to Action:

Creating a Disability-Inclusive Law School Climate

Tuesday, July 7th through Thursday, July 9th

9-11 am PT; 11-1 pm CT; 12-2 pm ET

Invite Only

Purpose: 

Our purpose is to convene the top law schools in the nation working on disability inclusiveness, accessibility, and campus climate to share ideas and resources, identify existing challenges and barriers, and ultimately form a taskforce that works toward a more disability inclusive future in legal education. We seek to deepen our conversations on the intersection of disability and race with particular attention to (1) how ableism and racism function together; (2) racial disparities in COVID-19 that impact our students of color; (3) race-based trauma; and, (4) the need to combat anti-blackness in disability advocacy. 

Topics:

  • Day 1: Disclosing Disability: Should I or Shouldn’t I

    When applying to law school, deciding whether to request accommodations for classes, the bar exam, internships and externships, and applying for a job after graduation, law students with disabilities grapple with the same decision: "Should I or shouldn't I disclose my disability?" Depending on whether you have an apparent or non-apparent disability, the decision may be framed differently. And, the decision to disclose is complicated by stigma, discrimination (i.e., ableism, racism, sexism), and fear of retaliation. This workshop will discuss topics including students’ personal experiences with and concerns about disclosure, factors that students should consider in making the decision, and how law school administrators can help counsel students.   

  • Day 2: How Law Schools Can Best Serve Students with Disabilities

    For law schools, diversity and inclusion are core values.  Nonetheless, disability is often forgotten in this conversation.  Further, students with disabilities are not monolithic.  They possess multiple identities and experiences. Are we effectively thinking about disability climate from a holistic perspective that considers intersectionality?  How does combatting anti-blackness in our institutions converge with our work on disability inclusion?  Are we offering training for law school personnel on disability, equity, accessibility, and inclusion?  This workshop will address how law schools and students can work together to create a campus climate that better serves people with disabilities, including disabled people of color, and not just for the accommodations process.

  • Day 3: Accommodations: Creating a Level Playing Field 

    More and more students in higher education are requesting accommodations, with a rise in the number and complexity of requests sought for anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and other non-apparent disabilities.  This workshop will examine recent trends in accommodations requests including in the COVID-19 virtual learning environment, ways in which law school administrators can work together to address these requests, what a fair accommodations process looks like, challenges students encounter, and teaching self-advocacy skills for students requesting accommodations in the workplace, among other topics.

Facilitated by Dr. Angélica Guevara

Headshot of Dr. Guevara, her hair is black and she is wearing glasses
Dr. Angélica Guevara

Dr. Guevara works on disability rights in higher education. Being a neurodivergent Latina herself, she encountered countless obstacles when requesting her disability accommodations in the course of obtaining her B.A. from UCLA, her J.D. from UC Berkeley Law, and her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Having a non-apparent disability makes it difficult to be believed and often not fully accepted by people with apparent disabilities. Given the low expectations placed upon people with disabilities as a result of stigma and stereotypes makes it all the more challenging for people with disabilities to obtain their reasonable accommodations in higher education. People with disabilities were not expected to achieve so much. If they do reach such academic heights, they are seen as frauds or fakes because the sentiment is “how disabled are you if you got this far?”

The “Operation Varsity Blues” scandal exacerbated this sentiment, where wealthy parents were telling their kids to act “stupid” to be diagnosed with a disability to obtain more time on entrance exams. Unfortunately, such a fraudulent act by a few parents affects all students with non-apparent disabilities such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis (MS), psychiatric disabilities, learning disabilities, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), diabetes, and dyslexia to name a few. Students with non-apparent disabilities already fear coming out of the closet and embrace their disability, and such scandals only marginalize this population, even more, fearing that they would be seen as “frauds” or “stupid” if they come out. Much of her work explores the intersectionality of the law concerning race, class, gender, and disability. She is exploring the idea of Ableness as Property in the legal field just as Cheryl I. Harris once proposed Whiteness as Property.

Event Co-Hosted By: 

American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Disability Rights

Burton Blatt Institute (BBI)

Law School Admission Council (LSAC)

National Disabled Law Student Association (NDLSA)

The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation 

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