Antonio Milane dreamed of going to Stanford University. A few months ago his dream came true.
“I was accepted into my dream school, Stanford University. At first I felt like I was at the top of the world,” he wrote in a Change.org petition that attracted 57,000 supporters. However, his acceptance was followed by a refusal – an accommodation request.
He described his battle with cerebral palsy, which goes back to his birth. His doctors describe him as a “child prodigy” who was not expected to be alive. He also has epilepsy.
“Just when I thought the fight was over and I could finally dive into my dreams, I realized that I might not be able to participate. The same story that happened to me over the years would devour my life again: Stanford Die University is unwilling to give me access to a clerk for assignments, which my need sees as a “personal preference.” Though Stanford is a billion dollar institution that has enough resources to easily provide me with the accommodations I need He nonetheless negates his responsibility for it and thus blocks my future endeavors. Simply put, I would not be able to attend Stanford. Achieve my goals without the help of a clerk, as it is for a boy who does not write may, will be impossible to get the job done, “he wrote.
“This petition represents the voice of the silenced and ongoing struggle for accessibility. Thousands of disabled students across the country are fighting for the right to attend college. My story coincides with that struggle and is now before you,” he added .
What Stanford said at the time was that it would provide a scribe for class time, but not beyond. Having a clerk to help with homework was a “personal service” that the university wouldn’t pay for.
Now the university is reacting differently.
“Our goal is always to ensure that all of our students can take advantage of every academic opportunity the university offers and enjoy a meaningful student experience,” said Dee Mostofi, vice president of media and communications, in an email. “The Office of Accessible Education generally runs the initial assessment process after students have accepted and enrolled with us to determine what they need to be successful at Stanford. In which case we should choose to go to Stanford To come to continue his basic education undertake to support his request for an academic scribe or typist to assist him with his after-school course requirements. “
She added: “The increased dialogue on accessibility over the past few days has shown the importance of looking at the entirety of our disability programs and rethinking what the next era of disability access should include at Stanford. Work will begin this spring with a study group that will research and analyze best practices for access to disabilities in academic institutions. These efforts will inform a new task force that will start this fall. As we need to evolve to meet the needs of our student community we make sure our programs align with our values as an inclusive university. “
Previous statements from Stanford last week did not name Milane or speak of commitments to him or a review of the university’s guidelines.
“As we said in our statement, we always work with our students to make sure they have what they need to be successful at Stanford,” said Mostofi. “In cases like Mr. Milane’s, this would be done through the OAE office once a student accepted our admission offer and enrolled. In this case, Mr. Milane wanted that commitment before he made his decision and the university made his commitment to support request. “
Milane said the new statement raised his hopes again. “This is a really good thing,” he said via email.
One reason Stanford may initially have denied its application is because the university may have the law on its side.
L. Scott Lissner, coordinator of the Americans With Disabilities Act and compliance officer of Section 504 at Ohio State University and a strong advocate for the rights of students with disabilities, quoted the last sentence in a portion of the regulation: Interpreters or other effective means of providing oral material to students with hearing impairments, readers in libraries for students with visual impairments, teaching equipment suitable for students with manual disabilities, and other similar services and activities. Recipients are not required to provide companions. individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or learning, or other devices or services of a personal nature. “
Lissner said that “based on what I know about Stanford [original] The decision complies with both ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and reflects standard practice in this area. “He added, however,” it also reflects a flaw in our access and accommodation system. “
Students with disabilities face many costs that are not covered by colleges, he said.
“I hope that with the re-approval of the Higher Education Act, Congress will provide a clearer path to support higher costs for disabled students,” he added.
Lissner said he was happy for Milane, but “a yes for him alone won’t solve the underlying problem.”