CfDC Minutes — February 6, 2008

Attending: Jack Bernard (Chair); Doug White (Vice Chair); Adam Gleicher (of Best Buddies); Natalie Hecht (of Best Buddies); Jill Rice, Mary Reilly; Margaret Hough; Jim Knox; Els Nieuwenhuijsen; Anna Ercoli Schnitzer (minutes).

Jack called the meeting to order and introductions were made around the table. We welcomed our guests Adam Gleicher and Natalie Hecht, who proceeded to give us much interesting information about their organization, Best Buddies, and its plans for a Disability Awareness Week to occur on the 4th week of March.

Best Buddies:

Best Buddies, an international student organization founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, has been on our campus for 10 years, with the goal of promoting one on one friendship between UM students and young adults who happen to have diminished mental capacity and developmental delays such as Down syndrome. The UM students are matched up with a buddy and the two meet personally, usually once/week to go to the movies or enjoy some other activity; and then there is a get‑together (barbecue, dance, games, etc.) for the whole group once/month. Recruiting occurs during Festfall and membership is up 25% this year. In fact there is a waiting list for buddies for UM students. Not much training is required. There is a monthly newsletter to spotlight successes. MSA provides monthly funding according to the group's needs (about $500/month is the basis), but there is also outside fund raising, e.g., through letters to parents, Crisler clean‑up, etc. No web site is available yet, but there are plans to have one. There are 7‑8 officers in the group with whom to share concerns if any occur.

The Best Buddy Disability Awareness Event is planned for the week of March 24th, with special topics for each day, e.g., a carnival at Crisler, Diag Day with advocacy booths, interesting speakers (perhaps Prof. Bernstein?), plus, if possible, a "knockout keynote" by AK Shriver, Temple Grandin, Dean Ball, President Coleman‑‑all were names suggested???

Adam and Natalie asked the Council members for other suggestions and invited us to participate if we can. Jim suggested his "augmented reality" project; Doug suggested his sculpting molds/models; Els suggested publicizing these events at the AA Commission on Disability Issues on the 3rd Wed of the month at 3:15 and also through CTN; she also suggested contacting Tobin Siebers, the Wild Swan Theater, and Washtenaw County Library for the Blind; Jack suggested having UM athletes appear in their regalia; Jill offered to advertise the week to SSD; Jim mentioned the flat panel displays around campus; also mentioned were the Friars/Glee Club and the " Hail to the Victors" song.

Additional Council Business:

Els brought up the North Campus Work Play Initiative, saying that ex‑President Duderstadt has been very supportive. This is an opportunity to promote accessibility, and it would be good to have a representative take part as a juror, if possible. Anna will contact the MSA Select Committee on Disabilities to see whether there is any interest in being involved in this venture.

Jack discussed the recent meeting of the web accessibility taskforce, saying that the meeting had been well received and productive. Adaptive technology and work spaces should be included on their agenda. Investigation into why Itunes University is not accessible (NFB is asking Apple). There have been dramatic improvements in Google accessibility with eventually every book being digitized and therefore readable by OCR.

Jim discussed the Android project with cell phones. Other items discussed were the KNFB phone and a pen that has a camera/speaker so that it can read what has been written.