Achieving and Maintaining an Accessible Campus: A Guide to Higher Education Disability Law and Accommodations

Colleges and universities have an obligation to comply with federal disability laws and to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities, whether they be students, employees, or campus visitors. It is therefore essential for university counsel and other administrators responsible for accessibility support services to develop a thorough understanding of the principles and processes involved in this area of the law in order to understand and address the different challenges that may present in a higher education setting. What constitutes a “fundamental alteration” to an academic program? What steps should an institution take to ensure that its public-facing websites are available to all? And how should an institution assess whether its buildings can be reached through accessible routes? 

Adherence to federal disability law is also a critical factor in providing and maintaining an accessible and inclusive environment where persons with disabilities and those without are provided equal opportunities to meaningfully participate in educational activities and campus life. 

Join instructors Philip J. Catanzano, Olabisi Okubadejo, and Karen Petrulakis, as they lead this eight-module online course, designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of disability laws’ application to higher education.

This informative and convenient course is a blend of self-study and instructor-facilitated learning.  Participants can access materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The course features access to:

  • Eight modules (including pre-recorded webinars, self-assessments, and extensive resources).
  • Two interactive, live online forums with the course instructors (recordings are made available to those who were not able to attend live).

Who Should Participate?

This introductory level course is designed for disability or accessibility services coordinators as well as college and university counsel responsible for advising on student, employee, and visitor accommodations and other disability law related matters.

Course Schedule

I. An Introduction to the Applicable Law, the Relevant Enforcement Agencies, and a Preview of Issues to Come

  • Overview of relevant laws
  • Enforcement agencies
  • The accommodation and interactive process

II. The Office of Disability Services

  • Role of the disability services coordinator
  • Organization of the office
  • Grievance process
  • Training

III. Accommodations for Students in the Classroom and in Housing

  • Requirements under applicable law
  • Commonly requested and granted accommodations
  • Reviewing accommodation requests
  • Leading practices in providing student accommodations

IV. Faculty & Staff Accommodations

  •  Requirements under applicable law
  • Accommodation analysis and interactive process
  • Practical Tips Regarding Providing Faculty and Staff Accommodations

V. Physical Accessibility

  • Determining applicable standards
  • Common campus issues
  • Accessibility strategy

VI. Digital Accessibility

  • Defining the challenge of inaccessible digital content
  • Applicable laws and industry standards
  • Agency enforcement and litigation trends
  • Digital accessibility strategy
  • Common challenge areas

VII. Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

  • Service animals
  • Emotional support animals
  • Balancing other students’ accommodations

VIII. Student Mental and Emotional Health Concerns

  • Self-harming students and students that present a threat to others
  • Strategies for responding to self-harming or threatening behavior

Live Forums


Monday, October 2, 2023, 12:00-1:15 p.m. ET

This forum, which is supplemental to the course, will cover content addressed in modules 1-4.

  • Opportunity for Q&A with course instructors
  • Unable to attend live? The recording will be available on the course platform for all registrants within a week of the live forum.


Wednesday, November 1, 2023, 2:00-3:15 p.m. ET

This forum, which is supplemental to the course, will cover content addressed in modules 5-8.

  • Opportunity for Q&A with course instructors
  • Unable to attend live? The recording will be available on the course platform for all registrants within a week of the live forum.


Philip J. Catanzano

Phil CatanzanoPhil Catanzano is currently a co-founder of Education & Sports Law Group.  Prior to starting Education & Sports Law Group, Phil was Senior Counsel at Holland & Knight for seven years and, prior to that, an attorney at the U.S. Department of ...

Olabisi Okubadejo

Bisi-Ladeji-okubadejoOlabisi “Bisi” Okubadejo currently serves as Associate Vice President of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Compliance at Georgetown University. Prior to transitioning to Georgetown, Bisi was Of Counsel at Ballard Spahr LLP, where her practice focused on civil rights and...

Karen Petrulakis

karenp headshot

Karen Petrulakis joined Wellesley College as its first General Counsel in late August 2017. In this position, she is responsible for the overall vision and strategy...

About Online Courses

NACUA's online courses give participants in-depth coverage of important issues in the practice of higher education law. Each course features webinars that enable participants to ask questions to...

CLE Credit Information

You may be eligible to receive CLE credit for participating in a NACUA online course. MCLE credit is subject to each state's rules and regulations. States differ in their definition of "CLE"...

Frequently Asked Questions

This eight-week course contains narrated PowerPoint presentations (like pre-recorded virtual forums), self-assessment quizzes, and reading assignments. In addition, this course...