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COLLEGE BROADENS DISABLED ACCESS.

Byline: Bhavna Mistry Staff Writer

VALENCIA - College of the Canyons is deficient in five areas, according to a review of civil rights guidelines for vocational education ordered by the chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

A committee that reviewed the guidelines earlier this year found that the college needed to make its programs more accessible to the disabled, encourage students to explore nontraditional careers and insert multilingual text in its publications.

``We are responding to each and every one of the issues raised by the visiting team,'' said Phil Hartley, vice president of instruction and student services. ``We are providing them with plans, with a timeline and the responsible individuals of those problems.''

After the four-day review in March, the committee presented the college's president with a letter in May, outlining its findings and requesting that the college respond by formulating a compliance plan. The plan has been prepared.

``We are going to try our best,'' Hartley said. ``Some we will be able to do immediately - some (will take) a little longer.''

The state chancellor's office said the review was to help the state's 107 colleges to maintain compliance with civil rights guidelines.

``It was essentially part of a routine process that our site teams have,'' said Kyle Orr, spokesman for the chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

One of the bigger problems on the campus dealt with numerous physical barriers that prevent or make it difficult for people with disabilities to access programs and services.

``We are aware of which physical barriers still remain on campus as defined by current (Americans with Disabilities Act) law,'' Hartley said. ``We have started barrier removal projects. All public facilities and even restaurants face these things all the time.''

The college is hoping for state funding for the work, which includes widening walkways and restroom doors, improving sidewalks for wheelchair access and improving doorway sills.

Other barriers included the lack of signage to direct the disabled and insufficient visual emergency alarms.

Communication barriers included a lack of phone registration technology for the hearing-impaired.

In its report, the review committee was concerned that the ``college has not systematically considered the needs of individuals with disabilities when expanding services through new technologies.''

Another review issue said the college has gender imbalances and is not doing enough to promote student diversity in the vocational programs.

To overcome that, the college was asked to ``focus on efforts to help students overcome their own sex role stereotyping,'' and urged better gender equity in traditional male- and female-dominated courses such as nursing and welding.

Earlier recommendations resulted in the college's computer ``boot camp'' for girls that will be recognized at an conference next month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Title Annotation:Review; News
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 29, 2000
Words:451
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