RVC's Commitment to Inclusion Through It's Accessibility Efforts

In today's diverse and evolving world, inclusivity isn't just a buzzword; it's a cornerstone of our college’s values

Neurodiversity Symposium

A dynamic panel discussion was held during the Neurodiversity Symposium on October 3, 2023.

Rock Valley College (RVC) has made considerable strides to recommit to continuous improvements directly in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This commitment isn't just lip service; it's backed by tangible actions and meaningful initiatives that are reshaping accessibility at RVC.

One of the hallmarks of RVC's dedication to ADA is the passing of Board Policy 2:10.120 Americans with Disability Act (ADA). This policy serves as a guidance tool, ensuring that decisions and actions taken by the college are grounded in principles of accessibility and equity.

RVC's commitment doesn't stop at policy-making. Teaching and learning is at the heart of the college’s mission. To improve that experience for students of all backgrounds, Academic Affairs has implemented tools in online and in-person courses to improve accessibility. For example, RVC’s learning management system is equipped with an accessibility checker and in-person courses now have the capabilities of live captioning.

RVC has established an ADA Commission tasked with advancing accessibility efforts across campus. This commission serves as a driving force for change, identifying barriers, proposing solutions, and championing the rights of individuals with disabilities. It is made up of students, faculty, and staff who represent many different divisions of the college, such as Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Operations, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Human Resources, and Institutional Effectiveness and Communications.

“By harnessing the collective expertise and passion of the commission, RVC is breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive environment for all,” said Keith Barnes, RVC Vice President of Equity and Inclusion. “Admittedly, there is still much work that still needs to be done but that does not negate the excellent work we have accomplished in a short time.”

Central to RVC's ADA initiatives is the appointment of an ADA Coordinator position. This dedicated position plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the college remains compliant with ADA regulations while also spearheading innovative initiatives to enhance and expand accessibility. Whether it's advocating for structural changes or providing training and resources, the ADA Coordinator is a vital ally for students, faculty, and staff alike. This position is currently open, and college leadership is excited to fill this position in early summer 2024.

The college has taken proactive steps to raise awareness and promote understanding of neurodiversity through its inaugural Fall Neurodiversity Symposium. By bringing together experts, advocates, and community members, RVC is fostering dialogue and driving change in how we perceive and accommodate individuals with diverse neurological profiles.

The symposium kicked off with keynote speaker Rob Ornato, who provided a better understanding of what neurodiversity is and how it manifests in individuals and permeates the workplace. Also included in the event was a panel featuring student, faculty, and staff representatives to speak about their lived experiences with neurodiversity.

But RVC's commitment to ADA inclusion extends beyond events and administrative appointments. The college has undertaken a comprehensive ADA self-evaluation and transition plan to identify areas for improvement and implement actionable solutions. This rigorous process involved assessing facilities, programs, and services to ensure they meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. It's a proactive approach that demonstrates RVC's dedication to continuous improvement and accountability.

What sets RVC apart is not just the breadth of its ADA initiatives but the depth of its commitment. It's not enough to simply check boxes or meet minimum standards. RVC strives to go above and beyond, creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to learn, work, and grow. Whether it's through policy advocacy, awareness-raising events, or hands-on support, RVC is leading the charge towards a more inclusive future.

There are many upcoming campus improvement projects that will further advance RVC’s accessibility efforts, including:

  • Adding a second elevator to the Health Sciences Building
  • Renovating Classroom Building II and adding an accessible black box performance space
  • Sidewalk and pathway repairs and replacements on Main Campus
  • The construction of a Downtown West Campus in Rockford
  • Professional development for faculty and staff
  • Expanding live captioning at events and in classes

As we reflect on RVC's accomplishments in the realm of ADA inclusion, it's clear that our efforts are making a tangible difference in the lives of countless individuals. From students navigating campus to employees seeking accommodations, and everything in between, RVC's commitment to accessibility is paving the way for a more equitable campus environment.

“It's not just about meeting legal requirements; it's about fostering a culture of respect and support for individuals with different abilities."