Meeting Institutional Challenges
- To better meet demand for speech-to-text services, DRC has begun preparing for implementing automatic speech recognition for use in the classroom and for online videostreams, which requires minimal training. There has been a 397% increase in speech-to-text provided from 2005-06 to 2009-10.
- Continued to promote and advance the reframing of disability and good design to the campus community, e.g. PACE collaborations with Computing Services, Web Services and Office of Communications have resulted in staff in those areas being more proactive in finding accessible solutions.
- Collaborated with Mathematics Department to create fully accessible section of both Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra classes, as ALEKS is inaccessible. This is a PACE collaboration.
- Created Accessibility website to house all information related to access at UALR, including web accessibility, non-discrimination policy, parking, CADA, assistive technology, and campus publications.
- Created form for reporting barriers that prevent access to facilities and programs. This includes on campus, in classrooms, with technology, and in the online environment. Available on the Accessibility webpage and the DRC webpage.
Enhancing the Quality of Campus Life
- Served on committees: Academic Affairs; Academic Adjustment; eLAG; CADA; Interpreter Education Advisory; Commencement; Web Advisory; Web Content Management System; Fringe Benefits; Non-Classified, Non-Faculty Grievance; Issues and Concerns; and Chancellor’s Policy Advisory Committee.
- Developed faculty/staff/student survey that will assess attitudes toward disability, which will be administered in Fall 2010.
- Conducted presentations across the campus to faculty and staff about such issues as the role of DRC, universal design, DRC’s assessment efforts, appreciative inquiry, and web accessibility. Presentations made to CARE, Bowen School of Law, new faculty orientation, Communication Skills Center, IT faculty, Writing Center, Social Work, graduate school advisors, library, and faculty in numerous departments.
- CADA funds contributed to the physical and programmatic environments at UALR being more accessible.
Noteworthy Unit Activities
- Participated on the leadership team of Project ShIFT, a DOE initiative, working to create progressive philosophical constructs of disability within DRC offices, to correct negative messages that are transferred to faculty, and to assure skills in faculty development.
- Supported the formation of DIG (Disability Interest Group) begun by a small group of disabled students; monthly meetings discuss issues related to disability studies, disability as diversity, and disability in film.
- New database was created by Information Quality student to track books in alternate format we have on-hand. This reduces search time per book from 20 minutes to less than 5 minutes.
- Hosted week-long iTransition College Camp, sponsored by PEPNet; due to tremendous success, next year will be a national conference; 16 deaf and hard of hearing students attended.
- New student database went live in August, and has transformed workflow. It will be modified to create all-electronic Faculty Notification Letters when the UALR portal is live, which will save DRC staff time and paper.
- Held annual staff retreat to discuss five-year plan, and teambuilding. Catherine Lowry from Information Technology facilitated.
- Continued to collaborate with the J.U.S.T. Change Initiative of AHEAD (formerly the UD Leadership Initiative) to develop UD and Reframing Disability Toolkit.
- As a result of collaboration with Computing Services, UALR was able to provide Bowen School of Law with the use of an accessible online application process, resulting in them not being one of the nine law schools named in the lawsuit filed by National Federation of the Blind.
- Began a ‘Featured Partners’ series, highlighting faculty and staff who exemplify good teaching and universal design. Posted on the DRC website, the DRC enewsletters, and the hallway display.
Challenges and Opportunities
- Director and Associate Director were invited to submit an article to the peer-reviewed Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (JPED) highlighting the changes made in the DRC office toward the social model of disability and universal design; published in May 2010.
- Suggested changes to policy regarding financial responsibility for providing captions to in-class films and multimedia on ualr.edu so that departments bear this expense, rather than the DRC.
- Providing accommodations at the Bowen School of Law is projected to have cost the DRC approximately $25,000 from fall 2008 through fall 2010. This is taxing resources, both financial and personnel.
- Number of books in alternate format requested has almost tripled since 2004-05. Number of books the DRC edited (which is a labor-intensive process) almost doubled in that time.
Trends and Implications
- More and more demands being placed on students to know how to use various assistive technologies. An assistive technology lab is needed on this campus to assist students with mastering these skills.
- Increase in number of students Asperger’s Syndrome, and a large cohort in high school currently is being reported.
- Increase of returning disabled veterans, many of whom have such disabilities as traumatic brain injuries, mobility disabilities, hearing and vision loss, anxiety disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder.
- Over 50% increase in new students registered with the DRC since 2005-06.
- 397% increase in requests for transcribing since 2005-06.