Saturday, Jun 23, 2018

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Janice Haynes, retiring OHIO Accessibility Liaison, leaves her mark on accessibility

Accessibility Liaison Janice Haynes will retire from OHIO this summer after over twenty years of service to the University. Haynes currently serves as an office coordinator in the Dean of Students Office and Division of Student Affairs. Haynes has also served the University through various positions and involvement on Classified Senate and several other committees, including the Accessibility Liaisons. 

The Accessibility Liaisons began in the fall of 2016 with the mission to make Ohio University a more inclusive campus for all. Through meetings, discussions and events, the group has taken steps towards achieving this goal by sharing their personal knowledge of what it means to have a disability or their understanding of how having a disability impacts family members and friends. 

Haynes grew up in Meigs/Athens area and has had a rich relationship with Ohio University and the Athens community. Haynes has been involved in laboratory research, as a high school science teacher and as an AmeriCorps/HealthCorps coordinator. She started in the late 1980s doing laboratory work for Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc., in the Innovation Center at OHIO.

“My grandmother retired from the University in the 1950s, so I used to come up here as a small child and visit. Back then she lived in an apartment on campus. One of our daughters graduated from here, one of our daughters worked here, so we are part of the community. My kids grew up here, I’d bring them to Kidfest, they’d come to the library, they attended special programs hosted by the university for elementary, middle and high school students” she recalled. 

Haynes has dedicated her time at OHIO to making it a better place for students in terms of accessibility and the overall student experience. What many people may not realize about Haynes upon meeting her is that she struggles with her own disability. 

“I have a vision disability that occurred a few years ago in just one eye. It left me with a depth perception issue that limits my fine motor skills, even walking is difficult because of steps and ledges; it’s hard for me to tell if there is a crack in the sidewalk or if it’s six inches,” Haynes explained. 

The Accessibility Liaisons have helped Haynes leave her mark on the OHIO campus as she prepares to retire. Her involvement in the group has helped to change the campus climate around accessibility for the better. 

“It’s a wonderful group to be associated with. We were involved in a lot of discussion and activities that have to do with this campus and with it being more accessible and friendly for people who do have disabilities or concerns,” Haynes expressed. 

Haynes believes that one of the most personally beneficial parts of the being involved with the committee are the insights she’s gained on the lives of others struggling with or affected by disabilities. 

“In our own individual worlds, I deal with what I feel to be a very small disability. When you’re around people that possibly have total mobility problems or verbal speech or hearing or total loss of sight...there’s numerous disabilities I can think of,” Haynes said. 

Although each Accessibility Liaison term is one year, the impact and insights gained from each member helps to add valuable suggestions and feedback on the conversation around accessibility at OHIO. Haynes believes that the one-year terms help to keep the conversations fresh and constantly evolving. 

“It just makes you more aware of the struggles or challenges of others and how much work needs to be done to make it better for everybody and make the college experience fair and equal. You find out in the classrooms alone there could be things done to help a deaf student or a blind student. I think the University does a great job but there’s always room for improvement,” Haynes expressed. 

In the first year of the Accessibility Liaisons, the committee saw great success. The team was asked to sit in on presidential meetings, meet with the board of trustees and attend the opening of McCracken Hall to provide their observations on the level of accessibility it achieved. The team saw great success and according to Haynes, OHIO has benefited from the formation of the group. 

“I think it was a very needed committee and I hope they feel like it was a successful year and a great start,” Haynes added. 

Although her journey with OHIO as an employee is coming to an end, Haynes does not plan to stop giving back wherever she can in her life. She plans to remain an advocate for accessibility wherever she goes. 

“I try to live my life as an advocate all the time, so I’m sure that I’ll continue to in my daily life even if it’s just passing others and trying to help,” she said. 

To learn more information about this program and other disability strategic plan implementation efforts, visit https://www.ohio.edu/equity-civil-rights/pacdap/index.cfm