CfDC Minutes — December 5, 2007

Present: Jack Bernard, Chair; Doug White, Vice Chair, Joe Lentini, Diane Achatz (welcome, Diane!); Carolyn Grawi, Martha Reck, Jill Rice, Sue Smart, Carole Dubritsky, Paul Guttman, Jim Knox, Sam Goodin, Thatiana Tavarez (welcome, Thatiana!); Steve Raymond (welcome, Steve!); Els Nieuwenhuijsen; Anna Ercoli Schnitzr (minutes).

Jack called the meeting to order and introductions were made around the table.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Jack said that Attorney Dan Sharphorn had fowarded Sam's update of the Target Lawsuit (suit about their web site not conforming to ADA requirements) to the UM Executive Officers.

Jack said that he had been asked to submit a budget to the Provost.

Carolyn announced that the Center for Independent Living was in the process of moving from previous headquarters behind Kroger's on Packard to 3941 Research Park, near State/Ellsworth Roads.

Carole announced that the web designers concerned with accessibility met and now have a subgroup, a blog and a site. Patty Bradley of Public Health is the contact person. Carole will find out from comparable institutions of Big 10 what they do and where they are concerning web accessibility.

DISCUSSIONS:

Discussion about appropriate place for central location for accessible web design and review. Possibilities are ITCS, Office of Institutional Equity, University Libraries. Standards of practice, philosophical differences, various problems were touched upon.

Discussion about the fact that the Council is becoming more visible and that disability touches all aspects of campus life and has a dimension beyond diversity. Recent events provide both good and bad awareness (Stadium and MSA events) and present a message about the vulnerability of disability issues. Council is looked to for leadership despite being just volunteer group. It was suggested that this stage of disability parallels the beginning of the diversity movement and that good, clear communication is critical at this time, because sensationalism distorts our message whereas we have a chance to shape the discussion now.

Emphasis (by Jack) that we want to do more than meet minimum requirements; we want to do more at UM than merely be tolerant; we want to be welcoming to all and to embrace those who have differences/disabilities and provide a safe place for them.

Jack said that we do not celebrate ourselves (the Council) and our successes enough. For example, our Investing in Ability events this year were better attended than ever before; the Office of Institutional Equity has a director who is a national expert on disability topics; Jack has been invited to be a member of the Diversity Council; Wyle Hall is terrific in its accessibility; people are writing to the Council, asking questions and asking when we meet. We would very much like to have students become a part of the Council, and we have had some in the past but are always seeking more students. Ways to recruit students: It was suggested that the Council take part in the student fall festival in the Diag. It was suggested that the Council have a Facebook presence. It was suggested that we contact SAL, the student umbrella organization.

Els reminded us about the UN statement on the Rights of the Disabled, also saying that there is a gap of education between the disabled and the non-disabled; another big topic is the (un)employment of the disabled. There is much potential for assistance in a post-secondary institution.

We must be accurate in our responses re: campus climate, and we must focus on Council values and mission. Campus-wide acknowledgement of issues is sought to help disability become part of our daily consciousness in order to achieve our goals.

CONCLUSION:

It was decided that we should issue a very accurate, very positive statement to celebrate our accomplishments and to continue to publicize what we do campuswide. Members of the committee to compose this statement are: Carole, Doug, Thatiana, Carolyn, Gerald, and Anna.