Saturday, May 26, 2018

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Faculty present at annual State of the State Conference

Several Ohio University faculty and staff were chosen to present about Ohio University’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility for people who have disabilities at the 18th annual State of the State Conference held last week at Bowling Green State University. The annual conference is a chance to discuss issues of equity, opportunity and diversity on a state level and included representatives from education, state and local government, law, healthcare, business and industry.

Dr. Dianne Bouvier, interim executive director of OHIO’s Office for Institutional Equity, served as a moderator for the panel presentation, “A Blueprint for Transformation: Creating a Future that Welcomes Inclusion and Accessibility. “This work is never done by one person, it takes the commitment and expertise from multiple perspectives to create change,” explained Bouvier, who also is co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning, “The panel members each had a unique contribution to the telling of our story here at Ohio University. Audience members came up to us after the presentation inspired to adapt what they learned from us to their own community.”

Assistant Dean for Student Accessibility Carey Bush was one of five panelists representing the OHIO and Athens community, and said the goal was to share the work OHIO has been doing to work with disability and accessibility planning. The idea was to share the process so it can be modified and implemented by others throughout the state.

“This was a really exciting opportunity to present,” said Busch, who also serves as co-chair of the Inclusion Change Team. “This is a statewide conference that deals with a variety of equity issues, including disability, gender, ethnicity and race, and promotes innovative approaches to supporting positive change in those areas.”

Dr. Carolyn Bailey Lewis, an instructor in the Scripps College of Communication, and co-chair of PACDAP, was unable to participate in person and presented with the other panelists via phone. “What Ohio University has and is accomplishing in its efforts to make its campuses one that welcomes, wants and needs persons with disabilities, is a somewhat unique collaboration of numerous individuals and entities,” she said. “We hoped to share our success so far and the opportunities presented in transforming the university, as well as the challenges.”

Others from the Athens-community who presented at the conference included Dr. Steve Patterson, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and an Athens City Councilman who discussed the Memorandum of Understanding initiating a formal collaboration between OHIO and the city; Darrell Purdy, assistant director for employee accommodations and campus accessibility and founder and president of LifeDream International Foundation, who provided an overview about higher education’s response to people with disabilities and highlighted the commitment many individuals at Ohio University have demonstrated to move inclusion work forward; and Ray Rood, founder and senior consultant of The Genysys Group, who provided a framework for the University’s strategic planning effort on inclusion and accessibility around disabilities.

“In everything we do, we need to ask whether someone with a disability is affected by this decision,” Bouvier added. “We want people to be more intentional and to seek the voice of people with disabilities in decision making, and we know that with all of us working together, we will transform our community.”