DASA and Campus Accessibility: A Promising Practice of a Student Organization
In 2003, several undergraduate students taking a class in disability studies at the University of Washington in Seattle discovered that there wasn't a strong student group on campus working to advocate for students with disabilities. The students thought that members of this campus community should have a stronger voice in promoting accessibility and diversity on campus. So, as a class project, they decided to form such a student organization to promote accessibility and disability activism on their campus.
Assisted by professors in disability studies, the students founded the Disability Advocacy Student Alliance (DASA). New members were recruited from the university population via online distribution lists, posters, and information tables throughout campus. Due to its success, DASA became a registered student organization that advocates overall campus accessibility for everyone, including students with disabilities.
A few of DASA's early achievements are listed below.
- DASA obtained approval for the Students with Disabilities Commission (SDC), which is one of the student government's diversity commissions.
- DASA members were successful in getting accessible workout equipment purchased for the campus gym and recreation facility.
- DASA is represented on the Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, an advisory group for the campus-wide Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.
- DASA has worked with Housing and Food Services to increase accessibility for students with disabilities in the dorms.
- DASA developed and participates in the annual Body Fair, an art and tabling fair devoted to issues of the body and mind focusing on disability issues.
Today, DASA has a strong and vibrant presence on the University of Washington campus. DASA is a promising practice in using students with disabilities and their fellow student advocates to promote accessibility on campus.