The Equestrian Team: A Case Study on Access to Student Organizations

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Background

Susan is a sophomore who is blind. She has joined several campus organizations and would also like to join the equestrian team.

Access Issue

The advisor and trainer of the equestrian team called the disabled student services director to discuss whether this student should join the team. She was concerned about how Susan could handle this type of activity, as well as the liability of the university if she had an accident.

Solution

The disabled student services director informed the advisor and trainer that the student should be allowed to join the organization, because it is a university-sponsored activity. The director suggested that they talk with the student about what reasonable accommodations would allow full access and participation. The student informed them that she could distinguish light and dark and that if the fencing around the corral where they practiced had white paint, she would be able to detect how to steer her horse around the corral. It was agreed to give this a try, along with the caveat that she may not be allowed to ride in shows, because she could end up with an unfamiliar horse, which may be difficult for her to handle and would compromise her safety.

Conclusion

This case demonstrates the following:

  1. Students with disabilities should be allowed to participate in campus-sponsored organizations and activities.
  2. Students are often the best source of information about the accommodations and strategies they need to fully participate in an activity.
  3. Communication, creativity, and flexibility among all parties involved can lead to a workable solution to most access issues.

Last update or review: May 14, 2014