Finance the Unpredictable, as Predictable
Accommodations are a variable expense; the total amount an institution must spend changes in
relation with the type and frequency of accommodations. It is difficult, if not impossible, to
predict how many disabled students will enroll and what accommodations those students will
need. Thus, disability leaders build budgets without knowing total expenditures of their office.
The challenge for disability leaders is to convey to upper level administration fiscal stewardship,
while simultaneously making the case for additional unexpected funding. That is, disability
leaders are tasked with convincing upper level administration to finance the unpredictable, as
predictable. To mitigate unpredictability, the Assistant Director at University B uses data to
forecast trends, provides evidence of how DRC resources are spent, and engages in ongoing
budgetary discussions to address unexpected, costly accommodations (See Table 4).
Constantly Educate Your Audience
Communication with strategic decision makers should not be limited to end of year reporting or
when requesting additional resources. Rather education and engagement of stakeholders is
ongoing. Examples of consistent communication include: (1) inviting administrators to attend
DRC sponsored events, (2) with permission, sharing student stories that highlight the way the
DRC works to support institutional strategic priorities, (3) tailoring disability educational
materials to match the specific campus constituent or group, and (4) sending quarterly updates
on legal guidance to the directors of relevant areas. For example, at College A, the Assistant
Dean shared the U.S. Department of Justice (2019) Rider University Settlement Agreement on
accommodations for food allergies with Campus Dining Services.
Disability leaders will benefit from employing caseload benchmarks that are more nuanced and
used in combination with additional data-driven tools. It may not be feasible or useful to deploy
all the data-driven strategies outlined above; rather, disability leaders can select the tools that
best fit their resources and institutional culture. The disability community benefits when we
share information and it is our hope that these data-driven tools will assist others as they
engage in strategic budgetary conversations and foster socially-just staffing practices.
Persuasive Metrics: Caseload Benchmarking
and Data-Driven Tools for Budgetary Advocacy