CfDC Minutes — March 5, 2008

Attending: Jack Bernard--Chair, Jill A. Rice, Diane Achatz, Gerald Hoff, Carolyn Grawi, Margaret Hough, Tracy Wright, Bob Fraser, Martha Reck, Elson Liu, Susan Smart, Adam Gleicher, and Anna Ercoli Schnitzer (minutes)

Introductions were made around the table with a special welcome to our guest Elson Liu, Co-Chair of MSA Select Committee on Disabilities.

Discussion of "Daily" special section on disabilities. Jack described his taped interview with the editor/journalist, saying that "Daily" had not printed his letter, for example, about disability being part of diversity and that this past October, although senior women's basketball was nicely covered, the Neubacher Ceremony, another contribution to UM, was not despite the fact that the winner was a UM student and the award was given by a Regent this year. There is no broad support of accessibility in the paper. Also, Jack is in role of CfDC Chair when he gives interviews about disability issues yet is always mentioned as being of General Counsel's Office--should be given the right "hat" for his remarks on disability issues.

Elson Liu, Co-Chair of the MSA Select Committee on Disability Issues and now working on a Ph.D. in engineering, discussed what his group is working on. There are 2 major initiatives: 1) Disability Awareness Week this semester working with Best Buddies (Adam's group) and other organizations. Goal is to expand scope to all disability issues beyond students and to get the committee name out there both for students with disabilities and to raise general awareness of the issues. Best Buddies has major events for the whole week of March 24th-28th. On Monday, there will be an Advocacy Panel featuring Jack Bernard. Thursday there will be an open house for disability-related organizations with the centerpiece of Boxes and Walls (players demonstrate disability scenarios and accessibility situations to raise awareness). 2) The other initiative involves note-taking and tutoring for students with disabilities. This would involve volunteers and could have an enormous impact. SSD has been contacted about this. The group could also set up an application on Facebook on the MSA Assembly web site to match up needs and resources with hopes to implement this by Awareness Week. Other issues will be more long-term (e.g., physical access in buildings). These should be sustainable and ongoing, eg., workshops for GSI's and professors to find the best strategies to be used.

Carolyn talked about AACIL's Washtenaw Talent Exchange in which people contribute and get something back so that there is payout for good work. She offered to connect the group with AACIL if this would be helpful, since SSD is not set up for this purpose.

Elson said that the Committee e-mail list is in UM Directory as msa.disabilities@umich.edu or else one can write him directly eyliu-msa@umich.edu (for committee matters). Please send him any feedback or ideas.

Tracy commented that the Department of Engineering has many students with Asperger's, a disproportionate population, and that their inability to have effective social interaction can affect their studies. She thinks that a buddy or group program to help them would be a very good idea, because otherwise these students suffer.

Jack suggests that we should think deeply and creatively about this. He supports the committee's goals but many of the mechanisms are already in place. He stated that the harm happened through the MSA and that many people in the community felt disappointed and hurt by what happened. The climate is the important thing that needs to be looked at, and that students can create a positive climate for other students. We should be looking not at the law but to UM's mission to be not merely tolerant but actually welcoming and embracing of disability/diversity. Students can reach out in ways that are difficult for CfDC members to do. However, students with disabilities don¹t have extra time, which is a big problem. It is important to have a standing committee to carry on the proposed goals. There needs to be an attempt to fight inertia and to develop a critical mass. For example, there should be a question about disability issues in the MSA elections platform to nudge candidates to declare their positions. There have been two major elements that have sucked up energy and were "flashy problems" -the MSA issue and the Stadium reconstruction/renovation. MSA is uniquely situated to work on the climate, a very important issue.

Carolyn stated that MSA members are welcome to be trained in disability sensitivity at AACIL. UM will offer a free all-library training session on March 19th at 10 am. Contact Library Human Resources - Lucy Cohen.

Bob stated that Best Buddies volunteers need a central resource.

Anna was named Chair of Neubacher Award Committee and the members who volunteered to take part were: Martha, Carolyn, Gerald, Doug (in absentia). Elson will mention to his committee that there are openings and others are welcome to take part.

Anna read Els's message about PM&R wanting to be more welcoming and accessible to individuals with disabilities. We should try to help them become that way.

Discussion of Work-Play Competition on North Campus. Elson said that Dean Munson is interested and although nobody from the disabilities area is on the jury, there are some connections to the project nevertheless.

Carolyn made announcements about the service(s) for Dar Vander Beek and the pot-luck at AACIL on Friday at 7 pm.

The para-transit problem was discussed, e.g., students/staff having to wait for an hour because of lack of enough vans and too many people who need them due to overwhelming number of temporary disabilities. Does East Ann Arbor Medical Center have an impact? Carolyn described A-Ride for which students are eligible; it is not free ($2 or $3 depending on when reserved) but has good hours of availability.

Best Buddies will send us an accurate update on events. Adam outlined the days: Monday - the panel; Tuesday - 500 children at a fair at Crisler Arena; Wednesday - Dr. Temple Grandin's teleconference at 4 pm in the Forum Room of Palmer Commons; Thursday - Disability Issue on Diag Day and Best Buddies International presentation in the evening; Friday - Disability in Education with Dean Ball and Yvonne Goddard.

Diane talked about rest room design and surveying what types exist and whether they are in ADA compliance both in climate and in infrastructure. She would like to focus on social phobia (paruresis*) in this context. 7 million Americans have this phobia and the rest room climate is often unfavorable to them. It was mentioned that Carole is now working on accessibility at UMHS and this coming year will be inspecting other campus buildings. She knows the answers to the questions about accessibility and if people cannot get to their classes or have problems in their dorms, she needs to know the details. It was mentioned that while West Quad is legally okay, it is not friendly.

Carolyn announced the Walk and Roll at EMUs Bowen Field House on March 15th. Contributions welcome (Carolyn's children are participating in raising funds for youth with disabilities.

* Paruresis (IPA ), also known as pee shyness, shy kidney, bashful bladder, or shy bladder syndrome is a type of social anxiety disorder... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paruresis