ARC’s Purpose And View Of Disability
Our goal is to remove barriers that exist in the college environment so that students with disabilities will have a level playing field and an equal opportunity to fully participate in all courses, programs and services that UNM provides. We remove the barrier by providing what is called a reasonable accommodation, which makes a small adjustment to the learning environment by modifying a nonessential element of a University program. An example of a reasonable accommodation is 50% additional time on timed quizzes and tests. Many other examples can be found under the Accommodations tab of our website.
Barriers exist for students with diverse needs, including students with disabilities, because the college environment is generally not designed to meet the needs of all students. This is true for most settings people typically encounter. If all environments were designed with the needs of a wide variety of participants in mind, including people with disabilities, then an office like ARC would not be necessary, because our students’ needs would be mostly or entirely met without an accommodation.
As a society, we are definitely working toward creating more inclusive environments. While a lot of progress has been made toward that end, we still have a long way to go. In the meantime, ARC is in the business of barrier-removal for our students.
Our View Of Disability
ARC sees disability through the lens of social justice rather than the traditional medical model. When disability is viewed through a medical model, the goal is to seek a cure. By contrast, a social justice perspective sees that disability is a natural part of the human condition, and it shifts the focus to what barriers prevent a student's full participation.
ARC is committed to social justice, which prioritizes an individual's dignity and experience. We believe that each of us defines all of us: valuing every member of UNM enriches our entire academic community. Students with disabilities have the right to full participation, and dismantling structural/systemic barriers to participation is a campus-wide responsibility.
Here is one definition of social Justice, taken from the Social Work Dictionary:
“Social justice means people from all identity groups have the same rights, opportunities, access to resources, and benefits. It acknowledges that historical inequalities exist and must be addressed and remedied through specific measures including advocacy to confront discrimination, oppression, and institutional inequalities, with a recognition that this process should be participatory, collaborative, inclusive of difference, and affirming of personal agency.”
The Legal Basis for ARC’s Work
In the paragraphs above, we describe how the ARC staff view our purpose and mission in working with students with disabilities through a social justice framework. There is also a legal basis for the work we do, which is defined by federal laws that prohibit illegal discrimination against students with disabilities. Here is a brief description of the federal laws that guide all the services that ARC provides.