Inside Scoop – January 2010

Welcome Students

The Disability Resource Center (DRC) staff at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock want to welcome new and returning students to the 2010 spring semester. We hope that everyone had an enjoyable holiday season. We look forward to working with you. Please email Sharon Downs at if you would like to reply to this message.

Disability Interest Group (D.I.G.)

D.I.G. is a new group that was formed during the Fall 2009 semester. The purpose of the group is to give students, staff and faculty a chance to come together in an informal manner and openly discuss dynamics of disability and campus life. D.I.G. will meet on the third Tuesday of every month during the spring semester. All are welcome to attend. If interested in learning more about the group, contact Ashish Bhakta at You may also email Melanie Thornton at to be added to the DIG-UALR listserv. We hope to see you at the next meeting on January 19th at 1:00.

Discussion Board on DRC Website

The DRC recently launched an interactive discussion board on our homepage, which allows students, staff and faculty alike to contemplate and discuss many aspects of disability and diversity on campus and in the community. To participate, go to and click on a topic under ‘Discussion’ on the left of the page. We hope you will take this opportunity to encourage open discourse at UALR about disability-related issues.

Stacy Willis Memorial Scholarship

Information about and eligibility requirements for the Stacy Willis Memorial Scholarship are available at

This scholarship is for the 2010-2011 academic year. Please let the DRC know if you have any questions.

Article Delivery Service

The Ottenheimer Library offers two new services–free article delivery service to your email inbox and book request and pick-up at the circulation desk on the first floor of the library. The article delivery service allows students, staff and faculty to request articles from the Library’s print and microform journal collections. The articles are scanned on demand and delivered electronically through the same interface currently used for InterLibrary Loan.

When you are logged into the library’s online catalogs and databases searching for books, there is now a request option under the title of the text. Once requested, library staff will retrieve the book and place it at the circulation desk. The requestor will be notified via email that his or her item is ready for pick-up.

To learn more about these two services, please visit If anyone encounters barriers accessing these services, please contact a Reference Librarian at 501.569.8806.

Free Memberships from RFB&D

One of the many alternate formats in which some textbooks are available is audio format, which are commonly produced and distributed by Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&B). Thanks to a grant and private donations, RFB&D now offers free individual memberships. These memberships allow users to download books to their computer or to an MP3 player. To learn more about and apply for an individual free membership, please visit: For application purposes, DRC staff member John Barbuto is approved by RFB&D to provide disability verification online, which may expedite application processes. John can be contacted at either 501.569.8287 or

From the Desk of Melanie Thornton

Last summer I attended a workshop on disability and the power of design. We were discussing the fact that when environments are designed well, disability becomes less of an issue. One of the participants shared her perspective on the topic:

I first began to think about the power of design when I heard someone say, ‘Suppose you held a meeting for a group that included both sighted and blind participants and there were no lights. Who would be disabled?’ This was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. Though I had read about the social model of disability before, it was hearing this example that brought it home for me that disability is, to some degree, a result of environmental design.

Her comment resonated with me because it points out that the limitations society has attributed to disability are really more about environmental design than the disability itself. Assuming that a given disability is limiting is the same as to assume that the sighted individuals in the example above will continue to be limited when they leave the meeting and return to a well-lighted environment. Design is powerful. It has the power to include or exclude, to enable or disable. Our challenge then is to begin to think more creatively about the environments we design. We take that challenge seriously here at the DRC and we strive to encourage others on our campus to accept that challenge as well.

This video brings this point home:

Help America Vote Act | Disability Rights Center

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was signed into law on October 29, 2002 to overhaul federal elections in the United States through a new set of minimum voting standards that each state and territory must follow. The Act also authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide funds to the Protection & Advocacy system of each state and territory to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places.

HAVA contains several provisions that will enable state and local units of government responsible for elections and individuals associated with operating the election process to establish, expand, and improve access to and participation in the election process by individuals with disabilities. Grant funds provide services to individuals with disabilities within the state, as well as education and advocacy that ensure the full participation of individuals with disabilities in the electoral process. The Protection and Advocacy System for Arkansas is the non-profit Disability Rights Center and the HAVA Coordinator is Vincent McKinney. The Disability Rights Center is authorized to advocate for and protect human, civil and legal rights of all Arkansans with disabilities consistent with federal law. All Disability Rights Center services are provided free of charge. To learn more about the Arkansas Rights Center and their services, please visit or call either 501.296.1775 or 1.800.482.1174 (v/tty).

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