Based on a faculty focus group last year, established an ongoing Faculty Planning Group. This group met three times in FY 2013-14, and has provided helpful information on various topics. Effort was made to obtain representation from across campus. Now that the restructuring has taken place, will reevaluate to ensure we have broad representation.
Collaborated with Mark Vaughn on making improvements to the existing Adaptive Technology Lab in the library, as well as on the new plans for the first floor, to ensure adequate space, technology and staffing for the AT lab in that configuration.
DRC accommodation budget was increased by $27,000 (transferred by Extended Programs). Streamlining payment source for captioning videos reduces administrative workload.
Arkansas Code § 25-26-201 addresses accessibility of information technology for blind users. DRC staff met with Purchasing, Information Technology Services, and UALR’s attorney to discuss the best way to proceed with developing policy and procedures at UALR. Work in this area will continue into next fiscal year.
Researched the various aspects of planning accessible meetings, and made it available on our website (ualr.edu/disability/planning-accessible-events), and promoted it in our employee e-newsletter. This site includes a WordPress form to request interpreters or transcribers for campus events.
Heading up project with Association on Higher Education and Disability to film professionals in the field discussing content on such areas as best practices in documentation requirements, helpful disability history activities, and talking to faculty in their own language.
Enhancing the Quality of Campus Life
The university-wide Diversity Council (on which DRC is represented) surveyed department chairs and created the “UALR Minority Recruitment and Retention: The Numbers, Best Practices, and Recommendations” report. The report is available on the Diversity site.
Expanded accessible testing stations in Testing Services from 6 to 28 by installing Adaptive Technology, enabling more accommodated exams to take place at the same time.
In our ongoing efforts to improve the digital books process, the book spreadsheet has been updated to assist in the development of a timeline for processing book requests. The spreadsheet now includes dates requests are submitted to DRC by the student, dates files are requested and from whom, dates files are received, editing status, and Learning Ally login information.
DRC is represented on the Sustainability Committee, and DRC staff once again headed up the Earth Day activities.
DRC was represented on several committees, including Diversity Council, Diversity Recruitment and Retention Committee, CADA, Safe Zone, Interpreter Education Program Stakeholders, Rehabilitation Counseling Advisory, Green Dot, Trojan Fest, adviser for UALR Wrestling Club, advisor for Students Beyond Barriers student group, and the search committee for the Interim Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
Collaborated with Study Abroad to improve accessibility and inclusion of disabled students; helped with improvements on website.
From an idea born in the Faculty Planning Group, began working on developing incentives for notetakers; met with Nick Steele with CLC to establish notetaking for disabled students as a way to satisfy service hours.
Assisted in the Gallery of Hope, part of Suicide Prevention Week
Coordinated the Stacy Willis Memorial Scholarship, and another deserving recipient was chosen by the committee, and funded $2,500 for academic year 2014-15.
Noteworthy Unit Activities
Planned and hosted a musical concert following the ArCPA Spring conference. David LaMotte from North Carolina was the keynote speaker at the conference, and gave a concert that evening to benefit the UALR Stacy Willis Memorial Scholarship for students with disabilities.
Director is Chair of the national AHEAD Standing Committee on Professional Development; developed two conference strands for the 2014 national conference that included 2 pre-conference sessions and 16 concurrent sessions entitled Out Of The Box! III and AHEAD Start – which focused on progressive approaches for disability service providers.
At the AHEAD national conference in Sacramento, the Director co-presented two-day pre-conference on power and privilege, bias and microaggressions, with a colleague from University of Arizona, as well as a concurrent session on bias and microaggressions (314 contact hours).
The Director presented The Student Interview and Documentation Practices: Utilizing New Guidance from AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability) at the Eighth International Conference on Higher Education and Disability in Innsbruck, Austria.
DRC staff held a two-day retreat to update strategic plan for the department, and discuss improving workplace satisfaction, and balancing the urgent work with the important work that requires planning.
Assisted World Services for the Blind with their summer transition program. Students who are blind or low vision from all over the United States attend a summer session at UALR and work with DRC, which gives them useful experience for their future college pursuits.
Presented at UCA college-bound conference, Arkansas Interagency Transition Partnership, ArCPA and NASPA
Collaborated with Campus life to bring Geri Jewell to campus to speak on being gay and disabled.
Director continues to serve on the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, term ends June 1, 2015; staff members serve on LRSD Anti-Bullying Committee, and on board of Ark-AHEAD.
Challenges and Opportunities
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 to hire at least one more Access Consultant to alleviate this problem.
Need for more space: (1) At least one more Access Consultant is needed to manage our increasing caseloads (see graph above). (2)The DRC staff have been in two separate space, since we hired the third full-time interpreter in 2006. Although our offices (DSC 103 and 113) are in fairly close proximity, being separated has had a negative impact on staff morale. In addition, it has made collaboration and cross-training more difficult. (3) Last year our space situation was made more difficult by the loss of our meeting/break room to Health Services. Long-term, a larger space needs to be identified for the DRC to occupy, that will put all our staff together, and have room for growth for much-needed additional positions.
A floor plan configuration from WER in 2013 that would better 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 (Access Consultant – see #1 above) we will request again next year. It would not, however, enable our two offices to merge.
Trends and Implications
Obtaining / creating books in digital format is a labor-intensive process. The demand has increased considerably, with no additional staffing.
Number of new students registered with the DRC has more than doubled in eight years. There is a 12.5% average annual increase in new students for this time period.
Because of our focus on outreach and proactive accessibility, the Director’s time is in greater demand campus-wide for presentations and technical assistance (including multiple academic departments, UALR Teach, Clinton School of Public Service, Bowen School of Law, Benton Center, PEAW classes, Diversity Council Lunch &Learn). With the loss of our Associate Director in 2012, there isn’t any sharing of this responsibility.