Meeting Institutional Challenges
- DRC is in need of more space to (1) unify all DRC employees into one suite of offices, (2) set up a filming studio for making online classes accessible, (3) establish an assistive technology lab to work with students on the increasing demands of learning new technologies, and (4) accommodate the needed additional staff.
- The proposed expansion of the DSC in 2012 was estimated at $7.4 million. In order to solve some of our FERPA issues and create an additional exam room for Health services in the short term, we underwent construction that (a) removed our old file room (which we no longer needed due to going paperless last year) and (b) enabled the DRC Director and the HS Associate Director to trade offices. This made it possible to keep the two departments more separate, thus better protecting student privacy. In addition, the DRC now has a more usable front lobby area that is fully accessible.
- Expanded DRC lobby (now fully wheelchair accessible)
- With the increase in captioning requests, DRC staff researched outsourcing options, and hired 3Play to take over captioning of all Extended Program videos. This has resulted in reduced load on staff, and less expense for Extended Programs. The quality of their output is as high as the DRC staff was producing, and their turnaround time is very good.
Enhancing Quality of Campus Life
- DRC is represented on the Sustainability Committee, and DRC staff once again headed up the Earth Day activities, which included trash pick-up around Coleman Creek, and a clothing exchange program.
- The university-wide Diversity Council (on which DRC is represented) conducted a survey of all faculty, students and staff over the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters. This is the survey that the DRC staff wrote and funded using Project PACE dollars. The survey focuses on various diverse groups, including those with disabilities. The survey results have been posted.
- Staff retreat in May 2013 focused on developing a DRC Strategic Plan, which will help the DRC more systematically move toward goals of creating a fully accessible campus.
- Consulted with designers to add a curb cut and widen the sidewalk on accessible path in front of the Student Services Center. Now wheelchair users can go from the DSC to Fine Arts on a more direct path. It also removes barriers for students coming from the residents halls to campus.
Noteworthy Unit Activities
- Collaborated with Daniel Richards in Information Technology Services to automate the Faculty Notification process. Before, the process was long and difficult for students and DRC staff. Now schedules are automatically populated, and students simply select which professors they want notified. When they click ‘submit’ it is emailed automatically to the professor. All accommodations are hyperlinked to more information on the DRC site. This will save a great deal of DRC staff time every semester.
- Conducted student focus group and faculty focus group in June 2013 to get feedback on the new Faculty Notification process. Several of each group will also serve on a DRC advisory group, beginning Fall 2013.
- Director serves on the AHEAD Standing Committee on Professional Development; developed two conference strands for 2013 national conference that included two pre-conference sessions and nineteen concurrent sessions entitled Out Of The Box! II and AHEAD Start – which focused on progressive approaches for disability service providers.
- DRC staff held a three-day retreat to author a values statement, mission statement, and vision statement (all on the DRC site), and a strategic plan for the department.
- By collaborating with Testing Services, all classroom testing utilizing assistive technology (AT) was moved to Testing Services beginning with the Spring 2013 semester. The existing practice was for students to take tests in the professor’s office or departmental conference room.
- Again collaborating with Testing Services, a joint proposal was written for a new position to coordinate all accommodated tests. The position was approved, and all such tests will now be at Testing Services. This means a dramatic improvement of test conditions for students.
- DRC took over responsibility for accessible parking from Health Services, and has modernized the system for all users. Now requests are made online using a WordPress gravity form, and the process has been dramatically streamlined.
- DRC website moved to the new WordPress, and DRC now utilizes all gravity forms (including for the Stacy Willis Scholarship application).
Challenges and Opportunities
- A new floor plan configuration from WER that would meet our needs in the short-term (without acquiring additional space) would cost around $72,000. These changes would create an additional office, which is needed to house a new position we will request again next year. DRC will continue exploring funding options.
- Five DRC staff resigned over the last decade due at least in part to the overwhelming student caseload. AHEAD recommends a caseload of 150 maximum, and UALR DRC’s caseload is 300. DRC needs approval to hire at least one more Access Consultant to alleviate this problem.
- Hours of online video to caption has more than tripled in 3 years. With the dramatic increase in online classes, a full-time employee to coordinate transcribing, captioning, and interpreting for online courses is needed.