Student Accessibility Services recognizes two OHIO leaders as outstanding advocates

Published: April 26, 2021 Author: Staff reports

The office of Student Accessibility Services has awarded its 2020-2021 Accessibility Ally Awards to Gaby Castaneda Gleason and MaryKathyrine Tran for their dedication toward inclusion and success of students with disabilities.

Gaby Castaneda Gleason is an assistant professor of instruction in the Linguistics Department.

According to her nominator, Castaneda Gleason champions accessibility through her instruction in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and other courses where she highlights accessibility and methods to help ensure her students learn how to appropriately accommodate different abilities in their teaching styles and practices. She is also receptive to changing her class structure to accommodate students with learning disabilities, including those who may not have registered with Student Accessibility Services.

One student who nominated Castaneda Gleason mentioned her own struggles with ADHD to the professor and noted that as an English language instructor she would want to have recorded lessons for her students to assist those with shorter attention spans. Castaneda Gleason was able to learn from that exchange and now posts the recording of each class for students to refer to.

“She has done the most for me with my accommodations, making my learning experience less stressed and more enjoyable,” said the nominating student. “She will even send emails to check in with me individually.”

"I was quite surprised that my students nominated me,” said Castaneda Gleason. “I am honored and humbled. They have been fantastic navigating these difficult times. I am very proud of them. They have been so mature and flexible in this pandemic. They are amazing!”

Tran is the assistant director of the Ohio University Women’s Center.

MaryKathyrine Tran
MaryKathyrine Tran, the assistant director of the Ohio University Women’s Center, was a recipient of the office of Student Accessibility Services' 2020-2021 Accessibility Ally Awards.

Through her work with the Women's Center, Tran has been a genuine champion for proactive accessibility, according to her nominator.

“She takes great pride in making sure that all Women's Center communication comes in formats that are accessible to learners of all abilities,” her nominator wrote. “She has taught me so many things about checking for color contrasts on fliers, preparing alt-text captions, preparing materials suitable for screen readers, and proactively (not just responsively) accommodating and celebrating all abilities. From her work with underrepresented students to public programming and interactions with colleagues, MaryKathyrine Tran has consistently proved herself an effective ambassador for accessibility.”

Tran said she is proud to be nominated and recognized for the Ohio University Accessibility Ally Award.

“I am proud to work at the Women’s Center where accessibility has always been at the forefront of our minds when program planning and has remained fully embedded in the culture of our work,” Tran said. “We always want to ensure folks can fully participate in our events and rely on the Women’s Center team to create different modalities for engagement including alternative text for social media posts and images, transcription for videos, etc. As a former accessibility liaison, I know how important it is for each area of campus to take action and couldn’t be prouder of the work done by our office.”

Director for Student Accessibility Christy Perez thanked the two Accessibility Ally Award winners for their efforts to advocate for and ensure accessibility for the students with disabilities at Ohio University.

“Whether our students are participating in classes and events remotely or in person, faculty and staff like these two allies play a key role in fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment at OHIO,” Perez said.

The Accessibility Ally Award is an annual recognition awarded to individuals who demonstrate a high level of respect for all members of the University community, take on multiple perspectives to understand the impacts of disabilities, express flexibility and empathy with new issues, openly discuss disabilities and consult with Student Accessibility Services, and encourage full access through implementation of accommodations.

Nominations are submitted by students, faculty, and staff from all Ohio University campuses. The award selection committee reviews nominations demonstrating how individuals went above and beyond to include and provide access for students with disabilities. 

Last year’s recipients were Dr. Danielle Feeney, assistant professor of instruction in special education in the Patton College of Education, and Micah McCarey, director of Ohio University’s LGBT Center.

A unit of University College, Student Accessibility Services works to ensure equal opportunity and access for members of the Ohio University community.