The University of New Mexico’s Office of Compliance, Ethics & Equal Opportunity (CEEO) is working on improving accessibility at UNM using a process that considers all parts of campus.
UNM’s beautiful historic campus, originally founded in 1889, today the central campus spans nearly 800 acres in the heart of metropolitan Albuquerque. It has been called a “city within a city,” serving the community not only as the state's Flagship institution, but also as a community hub for the arts, sporting events and Lobo traditions.
“The University recognizes that urban and historic campuses like ours require dedication and consistently when assessing accessibility for individuals with disabilities or campus users and visitors with mobility or other access issues,” said Heather Jaramillo, interim director of Equal Opportunity in CEEO. “As such, our office has initiated a holistic review of the current state of accessibility at the University.”
In 2021, CEEO began working in partnership with a variety of departments across campus and hired specialized consultants to develop a strategic plan that will help to identify, prioritize and make the case for improving ADA accommodations throughout the University. This effort is to ensure an updated ADA Transition Plan for UNM; a transition plan that provides recommendations for prioritizing ADA improvements and accessibility issues in a variety of areas. This is an ongoing process, but to date, CEEO has taken or is currently taking the following steps:
- Accessibility Assessment of Buildings and Paths of Travel: UNM contracted with a local firm, Architecture Research Consultants, to evaluate select buildings and paths on the central and north campuses for accessibility compliance. In its first phase, 62 buildings were evaluated on UNM’s central and north campuses. The Phase 1 work is nearly complete and has focused on the highest use facilities on central and north campuses. Twenty miles of pathways have also been evaluated.
- The University is currently working to identify additional funding to begin Phase 2, which will complete central and north campus assessments and begin evaluation on south campus/athletics areas. UNM plans to evaluate branch campuses in the future.
- Web Accessibility Assessment: UNM also contracted with a digital accessibility vendor, TPGi, to assess the accessibility of UNM’s websites and digital assets and to provide recommendations for ensured and enhanced accessibility. A team of stakeholders from UNM IT, Accessibility Resource Center, University Communications & Marketing, the Center for Teaching and Learning, Health Sciences Center, and CEEO are working to finalize a proposal to the UNM Board of Regents for approval and future funding to implement the recommendations.
- ADA Self-Evaluation Surveys: In the Spring of 2022, CEEO worked with the Office of Institutional Analytics to develop surveys for various stakeholders with oversight of academics, programmatic initiatives and employment. These surveys were designed to evaluate the current state of accessibility and accessibility knowledge in these areas. The results are currently being processed, and a survey targeted toward students will be circulated in Fall 2022.
Options for Those Needing Access or Accommodation
Any student who is facing barriers to academic access due to a disability or serious medical condition should reach out to the Accessibility Resource Center to start the academic accommodation process. Employees who need a work accommodation due to a disability or serious medical condition can submit a request to CEEO.
Anyone who encounters a physical barrier to access for those with disabilities should contact CEEO. A report can be made by contacting CEEO directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (505) 277-5251. CEEO will work with others on campus to address the barrier as soon as possible.
If a department is in need of funds to facilitate an accommodation – such as an employee accommodation, building modifications, or accessible event planning – the department may submit a request for funds via CEEO’s Reasonable Accommodation Program (RAP) form.