Meeting Minutes

Meeting Location and Times

Location: Regents’ Conference Room on the first floor of the Fleming Administration Building.
Time: second Tuesday of the month, 12:00–1:00 p.m.
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CfDC Minutes — January 9, 2019

ATTENDING: Stephanie Rosen (Chair), Anna Ercoli Schnitzer (Coordinator), Mina Ajam, PF Anderson, Jason Apap, Suzanne Bade (via Bluejeans), Kayla Carucci, Chun-Han Chen (and his mother) Bonnie Dede, Jeff Edelstein, Jim Eng, Carolyn Grawi, Paul Guttman, John Hogen, Ben Howell (via Bluejeans), Akio Kakishima, Vaishnav Kameswaran, Janet Keller, Megh Marathe, Sue McDowell, Kathleeen Mozak-Betts, Els Nieuwenhuijsen, Donna Omichinski, and Brandon Werner.


Donna Omichinski described a study being conducted by researchers in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in collaboration with the College of Pharmacy. The study includes an eLearning course for health professionals related to spinal cord injury. A flyer is available describing the study, and more information is available from the Collaboratory for Technology, Health and Independence [1]. Council members are encouraged to spread the word about this.

Anna Schnitzer encouraged Council members to come out for the Army-Navy Wheelchair Game at Crisler Arena on January 27th. Doors open at 4 pm. The event is entertaining and celebratory, Anna said. The annual event has been organized by Gerald Hoff since 2006. It's gotten bigger and better every year.

Stephanie Rosen circulated a copy of a blogpost by Lainey Feingold [2]. At the end of December, the U.S. Department of Justice withdrew proposed regulations on web accessibility. The blogpost makes the point that the ADA already requires web accessibility even without the regulations.

Stephanie also circulated a new four-page hand-out from the Inclusive Teaching Network, a coalition of faculty, graduate students and others committed to making teaching more inclusive. The hand-out was prepared based on existing resources from CRLT and others. Carolyn Grawi described the value of examples that show how various disabilities affect people in learning.

Jeff Edelstein said he's working with other students this semester on a submission in a competition that poses the problem of how to spend $100,000 to improve diversity, inclusion and equity on campus. His group will focus on how to improve accessibility for students with disabilities. They welcome suggestions.

Thanks to Carolyn Grawi

The Council expressed appreciation to Carolyn Grawi for all she has done over her 32 years in Ann Arbor. Carolyn has been executive director of the Center for Independent Living since 2014, and before that, she held other positions at the Center since joining its staff in 2005. She also taught in the School of Social Work, and she's been involved in the Council for Disbaility Concerns since 1987. This week as Carolyn prepares to leave Ann Arbor, she's been honored by Congressional Rep. Debbie Dingell, Ann Arbor Mayor Chris Taylor and the City Council.


Akio Kakishima described a project by graduate students in the School of Information to develop a phone app to assist blind people with absentee voting. The students are working with a new mobile app that will help blind voters fill in their ballots without the assistance of a sighted person. The goal is to make absentee voting more accessible without requiring policy changes, which are difficult to get enacted.

The app, called "Absentee Voting Assistant" ("AVA"), reads the ballot to the voter and lets them vote on their phone. When done voting, the person can print their choices via a bluetooth connection from the phone to a printer in which they have placed their absentee ballot. They can then take a photo of the completed ballot to get verification from the app that the ballot was printed correctly. The team of students provided a link to a video showing how AVA works [3].

Carolyn Grawi pointed out that blind voters can use an accessible voting machine at any polling place in Michigan to vote privately. The machine reads the ballot to the voter through headphones and lets them cast a ballot without revealing their choices to another person. That system reads the ballot back to the voter to verify their choices.

Akio said that as part of their research they observed a blind voter trying to use the system Carolyn mentioned. They found that the polling place workers did not know how to use the system, so it was hard for the voter to use. Carolyn said that Michigan converted to new voting machines last year, so it's not surprising that some poll workers would be unfamiliar with that process and need further training.

The team of students is looking for suggestions and comments about their work.

Closing Remarks

Stephanie said that as the new Council Chair she has been thinking a lot about what she loves about the Council and what she might want to do differently. She loves that the Council focuses on mutual support with people sharing knowledge and offering help to each other. She said she hopes to see the Council do more work with academics on campus.

[1] Spinal Cord Injury eLearning

[2] Lainey Feingold's blogpost - "No ADA Web Accessibility Regs? No Excuses"

[3] Video showing the Absentee Voting Assistant (AVA)

Next meeting will be on February 13th at noon in the Regents Conference Room, Fleming Building.

Jim Eng assisted in preparing these minutes.

Questions/additions/corrections to: <schnitzr at>

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