Beyond "High-Risk": Statement on Disability and Campus Re-openings

Read the "Beyond High-Risk" Statement in Google Doc format or .txt format


Sign: via Google Form or email at Please ensure that you receive a confirmation from the form. If you have signed and your name has not shown up within 24 hours, please email us at

Cite: If you refer to or borrow language from this Statement, which is a form of scholarship, please include the following citation:

Accessible Campus Action Alliance (2020), "Beyond 'High-Risk': Statement on Disability and Campus Re-openings,"

Coverage of "Beyond High-Risk": USA Today, Inside Higher Ed, Los Angeles Review of Books, Disability Compliance for Higher Education, The Advocate, Minnesota Daily, The Daily Tar Heel, The Statesman, AFT-Wisconsin, AAUP Oregon, Miami University AAUP

Beyond “High-Risk”: Statement on Disability and Campus Re-openings

How to use this document

  • Sign on

  • Share with colleagues and professional listservs

  • Send to university administrators, including diversity officers and members of committees responsible for campus re-openings

  • Send to your leadership of your professional organizations. Ask them to sign on behalf of the organization.

Why are people signing this statement?

A sampling of comments from our submission form:

  • “The safety and security of our faculty, staff, and students with disabilities and impairments is of utmost importance in all aspects of life and work in academia. Without keeping ALL of our community in mind, we are working against equity and inclusion on our campuses.”

  • “Making online teaching the default, rather than the exception" supports the necessary agility to respond effectively to changing conditions, while providing the highest degree of operational safety for all.”

  • “This is the most thoughtful, thorough, and sensible analysis of the situation that I've read, and seems to me a model for the way university administrations should be thinking. “

  • “I'm a disabled graduate student terrified of reopening. I think disabled students will be left behind, in terms of securing accommodations, ensuring those accommodations are met, and being able to freely take the classes they want. I feel like the burden of teaching dual classes will fall on graduate students at an unprecedented rate. Universities need to acknowledge that opting to go online should not mean taking on added responsibilities for unpaid labor. “

  • “I am concerned about the aggressive demands for "medical documentation" to fulfill "accommodation requests" that I am already seeing online. I'm concerned that this will create a system of medical surveillance and ableism that significantly exacerbates the prejudice that already exists on college campuses.”

  • “As a high-risk patient for COVID, I think not implementing the measures cited in the document would do nothing but enlarge the gap we live on the daily when it comes to any kind of disability. We are more that what we can produce in a specific point in time and under specific conditions. And we deserve more.”

  • “Planning for the most vulnerable benefits everyone.”

  • “As a disabled scholar activist focused on academic access and ableism, I believe it is imperative that we center disabled students and faculty in our campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  • “I don’t want to have to disclose my medical disability to the university.”

  • “As a Deaf person, I am keenly aware of the barriers to communication that are presented by universal mask wearing. As a person with a significant immune system dysfunction, I am aware of my danger of death or long term physical disability should I contract COVID-19.”

  • “I am committed to equitable access for my students and colleagues. This means I am devoted to teaching practices that protect students, peers, and their families from harm while fostering authentic connections in our learning environment. Our learning environment can be safe, distributed, multi-synchronous, and accessible.”

  • “I sign in solidarity for my colleagues. I sign for myself. I sign because this is the only way for higher education to move forward with an ethics of care.”

  • “I am a staff member who is a cancer survivor and high risk for severe disease. The danger is real having students, faculty, and staff returning to campus during the pandemic.”

  • “I am a disabled faculty member and a scholar of disability studies, and I also have care commitments to family members. I worry about the risks of forced disclosure for faculty members. I also am concerned about the ethics of campus re-openings/forced in-person presence for faculty already marginalized by race, gender, and/or disability. “

  • “My reason for signing this statement is due to the belief that prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff while also cherishing access to education and employment is an invaluable imperative for the university to uphold. Though I understand the university's financial considerations, it seems that an investment in public health is the more worthy and fulfilling investment in the long run in that the institutions can build (and pride themselves on) a reputation for preserving the sanctity of all members of their community (not some).”

  • “Although focused on the US and the ADA, in Canada we face similar issues of discrimination, inequities, the violences of constant disclosure.”

  • “[My] university’s plan has a lot of problematic areas that I think are unsafe and unfair”

  • “Solidarity!”

  • “I support maximal faculty rights and power over teaching conditions.”

  • “I am an instructor and student who suffers from 3 chronic illnesses, mental and physical, that affect my ability to be in public for long periods of time while taking precautions for myself and others. Many loved ones and students and people I don't even know have been, are, and will be affected. I'm not against opening or staying closed. I'm against hasty planning and people in power pushing their agenda.”

  • “The strongest, most thoughtful, and compassionate guidance I've seen for educational institutions negotiating the pandemic and the larger / underlying struggles for racial and economic justice in the U.S. Thank you.”

About the Accessible Campus Action Alliance

Who wrote this statement?

The Accessible Campus Action Alliance is a group of scholars and experts in areas of disability studies, health equity, and institutional policy (specifically accessibility in higher education). We teach and conduct research at universities across the United States. Most of us identify as disabled and are directly impacted by university re-opening policies. The Statement draws upon our expertise in a range of fields to highlight issues of precarity for disabled, BIPOC, and/or economically disadvantaged members of academic communities (including students, faculty, and staff). In solidarity with members of our collective who are contingent and junior faculty (and thus fear institutional retaliation for their participation), we have chosen to sign as a collective. As the Statement's citations and range of supporting signatures below also demonstrates, our message aligns with the work of scholars in many fields.

Whom should I contact for press or other inquiries?

Please contact We prefer to make statements as a collective, to preserve the anonymity of faculty unable to make public statements given institutional or other precarities.