The university launched two new initiatives to create a more inclusive workplace experience July 1:
- Central funding for workplace accommodations for faculty, staff and visiting or guest lecturers with disabilities; and
- Free Red Runner rides for individuals with Cornell-issued AP/PO parking permits or who have documented disabilities that impact their mobility, transportation access or navigation.
“Our strategic plan for university disability access is focused on six key priority areas: physical accessibility of the campus; educational programs and services for students and employees; technology; communication; employment; and emergency preparedness and evacuation,” said Angela Winfield, director of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity. “These two initiatives answer concerns in several key areas with needed services, and so we’re thrilled to offer them to our community.”
The central Accommodations Fund will help provide reasonable accommodations to faculty, staff and visiting or guest lecturers who need adaptive aids, assistive technology or other reasonable accommodations. Funds are limited and only available for accommodations approved after July 1; there will be no retroactive reimbursements.
Accommodation requests for employees will continue to be made through the official process. Once the appropriate accommodation has been determined, requests automatically will be considered for funding. Individuals interested in requesting accommodations for non-employee guest speakers or lecturers should contact Winfield.
“Departments should not be hampered from enhancing their disability diversity just because of associated costs,” said Winfield. “Through this centralized fund, we’ll be able to supplement department and unit efforts, especially in the way of devices and technology which we know can significantly improve the work experience for individuals with disabilities.” She notes that standard ergonomic items that are generally available to all employees – such as sit-stand desks and physical modifications to buildings – should be funded through the department, unit or other alternative means.
Through the accessible Red Runner service, Cornell will provide free door-to-door transportation for staff and faculty with disabilities when they participate in university-related activities, including meetings, seminars, trainings and campus events, or take advantage of Cornell’s employment benefits, such as wellness programs. Commuter rides to and from home are not eligible.
The service is open to faculty and staff with Cornell-issued AP/PO parking permits, and to approved faculty and staff who do not have a Cornell AP/PO parking permit but have a disability affecting their mobility.
Red Runner rides are available to all areas of the Ithaca campus and nearby off-campus locations 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Reservations are required, and service is subject to availability.
Faculty and staff with a current Cornell-issued AP/PO parking permit are automatically enrolled with Red Runner. Individuals without an AP/PO permit must complete the reasonable accommodations request form or contact Jill Tubbs in Medical Leaves Administration at email@example.com or 607-255-2359.
Prior to using the free service, faculty and staff should call or email Red Runner at 607-254-8293 or firstname.lastname@example.org to validate their eligibility. Ride requests must be made no later than noon the day before the ride is needed; however, because this is a new program, more than one day of notice may be needed for those using the service for the first time. Cancellations can be made via phone or email.
“We’re committed as a university to ensuring that our colleagues with disabilities receive equitable access in the workplace,” said Winfield. “The overarching vision is for all members of our community to feel they are valued and that they belong. And it’s going to take all of us to achieve it.”
Contact Winfield at 607-255-6865 or email@example.com with questions.
Visit Cornell’s Diversity and Inclusion web site or accessibility.cornell.edu for disability initiatives, resources and the strategic plan for disability access. Additionally, Cornell’s Disability Colleague Network Group provides education, mentorship and support to faculty and staff with disabilities.
Ashley Fazio is director of communications for the Division of Human Resources.