CfDC Minutes — August 4, 2004

Present: Jack Bernard, Carole Dubritsky, Sam Breck, Doug White, Anne Chi, Jim Knox, Jeff Tibbs, Vic Rosenberg, Mike Duvendeck, Mike Chmura, Anna Ercoli Schnitzer (minutes).

Jack called the meeting to order.

Neubacher Award Ceremony:

Carole announced that the Neubacher Award will be given to Mary DeKeon of Trails Edge Camp with a special plaque to be given to the volunteers at the camp. Larry Warren (with Mary Sue Coleman on alternate years) will bestow the Award. There were 40 nominations this year. Eight to ten Certificates of Appreciation will be given. A video will be shown at the Neubacher Ceremony on the morning October 29th. Jack urged us to keep faculty in mind as nominees in the future, so that this group will not be overlooked.

Carole announced that Sarah Watkins, a current student, will help with Investing in Ability, confirming events and times, and creating some activities for students. Sarah also has in mind to establish a book club on disability issues for students and staff as an ongoing activity.

Valerie Laken, who teaches a class on diversity and culture in the English Department, and Tobin Siebers will be connected with our IA events.

Jack explained that he has in mind for himself an early contact project set along the lines of our strategic plan but one with specific objectives and one that pushes forward issues he personally holds dear, in addition to the Council's strategic plan's issues. He suggested that each Council member adopt some personal accessibility goals and that by next year we should be promoting our own initiatives to make UM more accessible and to enhance better communication between the institution and its community members.

He set forth the following as his personal objectives in this vein:

  1. The Syllabus language for faculty to enable each student to disclose any disability, which would then be acknowledged by the faculty who would work with the student to provide accommodation. Although this language cannot be imposed on the faculty, this will at least provide the opportunity for its use and its placement in the faculty handbook. Jack would like to have SACUA sanction and all the Deans recommended the use of this language.
  2. Jack would like each student who is admitted to receive a letter, as is now the practice in the Law School, stating that he/she can disclose a disability and expect reasonable and appropriate accommodations to be provided. This should be done as early as possible for optimum effect. He would like to have all the Deans recommend that such a letter be provided to each student, and he said that we have to do forward thinking about this issue even before all information becomes available. Discussion ensued about the disconnect between desirable and available accommodations and the fact that UM is out of compliance.
  3. Faculty and Staff should receive an official letter with each job offer, mentioning the option of accommodations for disabilities. Right now not even all the permanent employees actually receive a confirmation letter but are informed by telephone.

Sample language will be vetted through the Council (except for the Syllabus, which already has been vetted and edited).

Each individual should work on a personal project consistent with the mission of the Council and the individual's interest.

Jeff mentioned that employees do not necessarily understand ADA compliance and accommodation issues so maybe a letter to current employees would be helpful as well (a personal project for Jeff maybe?)

Carole stated the the Office of Institutional Equity is creating two brochures, one on ADA and another on nondiscrimination. Also, Carole will be offering training sessions, and we should get the word out about this. In the future, when our web site is complete, there may be the possibility of anonymously requesting accommodation.

Jack's other "fire in the belly" items are:

  1. Obtaining funding for the Council, with a goal of $60, 000, so that we can sponsor someone's attendance at a national conference, buy office supplies, maintain our web site, have a 1/4 time employee, pay speakers for IA and other occasions, and support other initiatives on campus, especially those closely tied to the Council and those who have helped support us.
  2. Reporting to the President or Provost.
  3. Encouraging Council members to step up with projects of their own.

Anne mentioned the case of a student with a disability who was looking for competitive sports he could take part in, and it was discussed that in the future, we might have such programs linked to from our web site, but now we do not know of any resources for the student.

Carole discussed need for improving accessibility for athletic events and participation in athletics.

Jack mentioned hearing about a reduced rate at the campus recreational buildings for those with a disability. Maybe we can contact a member of this group and have him/her talk to Council about provisions made for those with disabilities.

Members should have a project in mind for the September meeting, if they can.

Carole reported that the Emergency Evacuation Policy is being resurrected and worked on with comparisons to the best practices of other universities.

Jim discussed Ergopods, of which he has six left and he is looking for good homes for them. Residence Halls sites would benefit students. We will hear more on this subject at the next meeting after Doug investigates the situation in housing and others make inquiries about possibilities.

FOR SEPTEMBER MEETING'S AGENDA:

  1. Jim's update on ergopods
  2. Sam Breck will discuss new aata bus plans