UCLA Pressed to Provide Better Services for the Handicapped
The California Assn. of the Physically Handicapped will demonstrate at UCLA on Friday to protest members’ “extreme dissatisfaction” with university enrollment and hiring practices for the disabled.
The 10 a.m. protest at Murphy Hall will be co-sponsored by the Los Angeles City Council on Disability. Also participating will be Friends of Fernald, a group that is fighting UCLA’s plans to close the Fernald School for the learning-handicapped on June 30.
UCLA officials said that the university is working to remedy problems the organizations have presented in meetings of an advisory committee appointed by Chancellor Charles E. Young. The advisory committee expects to present its recommendations in about a week, according to Winston Doby, vice chancellor of student affairs.
The protest sponsors said that “UCLA, with the largest public student enrollment in the state, has only 141 disabled students out of 32,000 and . . . only 33 disabled employees out of 14,000.”
The groups say that UCLA has violated a 1979 federal requirement by failing to appoint a “compliance officer” to oversee programs for the handicapped, and the group filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education in February.
‘The Process Has Been Slow’
“After 5 1/2 years of fruitless efforts, we have managed to enter into negotiations with UCLA officials about overt, illegal discrimination against disabled individuals, but the process has been slow and time lines (are) not forthcoming,” said Jane Small, president of the West Los Angeles chapter of the physically handicapped association.
About 75 chapter members will participate in the protest Friday outside the chancellor’s office, Small said.
The association has received support in its efforts for equal access and opportunity for the disabled from state legislators and civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Small said.
She said that UCLA is “a blatant example, the worst” in the University of California system in its policies and practices for the handicapped. “It is the largest campus and (yet) has the smallest percentage of disabled students and an exceptionally small number of disabled employees,” she said.
Small said that the University of California, Davis, has an enrollment about half that of UCLA’s and has eight staff members working with the disabled, while UCLA has only two administrators for veterans and the handicapped.
Protest planners said that “UCLA, with disdain for students’ needs, understaffs its services for disabled students and consistently ignores them by not providing required services.”
In addition, the groups are agitating for better parking and access on campus for the disabled.
Doby said that the chancellor’s advisory committee is preparing a report that will address concerns brought up by the organizations for the handicapped and that UCLA “will do everything within in its power to alleviate any impediments which may exist to equal access (for the disabled).”
He said the advisory committee has come up with a number of recommendations, including appointment of a compliance officer for the disabled by July 1.
He denied that UCLA has violated federal requirements for a compliance officer, and said that in the past the officer’s duties have been divided among several officials. The new plan is for the duties to be consolidated under a single administrator, he said.
Doby said that recommendations will include “more aggressive” student and employee recruitment practices, free parking for vehicles displaying authorized handicapped placards, better marking for handicapped parking stalls and curb parking, and a study to show what modifications could be made to provide better physical access to the campus and buildings.