University of Michigan + Ableism

University of Michigan
The University of Michigan‘s Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is apparently in violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act. A letter sent to the University of Michigan by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (6MB PDF) informed the university that three complaints had been filed alleging that the stadium is “not accessible to or usable by individuals with mobility impairments.” The OCR determined that the University of Michigan was in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The specific allegations included:

  1. the University fails to provide a sufficient number of seating spaces in the Stadium designated for persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs;
  2. the seating spaces in the Stadium that are designed as accessible for persons with disabilities are limited to the area behind the end zones, which does not offer the same range of seating options available to individuals without mobility impairments;
  3. there are no accessible routes to the Stadium;
  4. there are no accessible routes to the wheelchair seating locations within the stadium
  5. the restroom facilities at the Stadium are inaccessible;
  6. the Stadium concession stands are inaccessible; and
  7. the souvenir shops (“M-Dens”) in the Stadium are inaccessible.

The letter from OCR is fairly lengthy but it seems that the U of M had been the focus of a complaint in 1999 and that remnants of that complaint were never corrected (and seemingly disingenuous communication with the OCR took place in the next few years.).

It took a couple “denial” press releases by the University of Michigan before they finally seemed to realize that the stadium was in fact extremely inaccessible.

The Michigan Daily has a great article (with photographs) on the lack of accessibility at the Michigan Stadium. It sounds like the university plans on renovating the stadium. However, the press release lists 2010 as the year of renovation completion.