Letter from the editor: Diminishing the digital divide for those with disabilities


Trevor Tyle, Editor-in-Chief

Dear readers,

Twenty-nine years ago, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), prohibiting discrimination on the basis of either mental or physical disability. It was the first comprehensive law passed in this country to address the needs of individuals with disabilities, and is arguably one of the most important pieces of legislature to exist within our government.

October is Disability Awareness Month at Oakland University, an opportunity to educate ourselves and celebrate those individuals on campus who might not feel seen or heard, but whose place in our story is just as important.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 26% of adults in the United States live with some type of disability. While documented statistics specifically on OU students with disabilities weren’t publicly available, the Office of Disability Support Services estimates that it works with 500-600 students per semester, approximately 2.5% of our overall campus population.

One of the goals I hope to accomplish as editor-in-chief is to make continuous strides toward a more inclusive publication that more accurately reflects our diverse campus community, including those with disabilities. While the content produced by The Oakland Post will undoubtedly be the clearest way in which this goal is implemented, we will also be making some more discrete changes, particularly with regard to our website.

In 2010, the Department of Justice finally expanded ADA standards to apply to digital platforms as well. Last year, I was brought on as the marketing assistant for the School of Education and Human Services (SEHS) on campus, where I was informed of a university-wide movement toward web accessibility. This means that individuals with auditory and/or visual impairments should be able to better access content published under the oakland.edu domain. 

I’m proud to work with a small team of people at SEHS that is really at the forefront of such a pivotal and progressive initiative. We have students, staff and faculty on our own campus who struggle to access basic information on our website because we as a society have failed to properly educate ourselves on the importance of ADA compliance. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the work we’ve accomplished so far to develop more inclusive website standards within our school is inspiring, to say the least. 

It’s a conversation I’ve wanted to start having at The Post for a long time now, and one that’s largely been ignored — not just on campus, not just in the United States, but on a global scale. 

In the coming months, I will be working extensively with my editorial board and web editor to improve the standards to which we hold our content, both in print and online. Until then, how can we truly say The Post is advocating for students when an entire community within the student body is being excluded?

We have over 10 years of publications stored on our website — that’s over 10 years worth of stories we now have to make ADA compliant. As the leader of this news organization, I have a duty to my staff and readers to be realistic about the changes I’m able to implement during my term as editor-in-chief. I can’t promise our website will be ADA compliant by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. I can’t even promise it’ll be halfway there by the end of the year.

But what I can promise is progress, and without that, change will never come.


Trevor Tyle, Editor-in-Chief