Purdue Today

March 9, 2009

Focus Awards for disability advocacy presented

Focus Award recipients

Outstanding contributions to disability accessibility and diversity brought Purdue's Focus Awards for 2009 to four recipients Tuesday (March 3).

The presentations, sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity and others, were made during a reception celebrating the state's Disability Awareness Month.

Diana Prieto, OIE director, hosted the event under the theme "Accessibility: Including the Virtual World." Alysa Christmas Rollock, vice president for ethics and compliance, presented the awards.

Also at the reception, Kris Knotts, Web marketing and development manager in Krannert School of Management, was guest speaker. He demonstrated the problems a visually impaired person can encounter when using a screen reader to access the Web but the Web page is not well set up for that. He then described simple steps to improve that situation.

Knotts noted that in virtual reality, accessibility refers to making it possible to access information; usability refers to presentation that helps make the information understandable. Both are needed to make information fully available.

He also spoke of updated guidelines for accessibility issued in December 2008 by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines are at www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/.

These were the awards:

-- Faculty. William Jaffe, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management. He is current chair and a 10-year member of the volunteer Advisory Council on Disability Issues (ACDI), which is working on concerns about accessibility of the Disability Resource Center and access for students with disabilities to job search and employment opportunities. Jaffe was unable to attend the reception, and his award was accepted by Doug Nelson, associate head of HTM.

-- Staff. Sherrie Kristin, library systems technical assistant at Purdue Calumet. Among many efforts and committee roles in 16 years, Kristin worked on/with several funding sources that brought in four computers, scanners, and assistive software to help establish ACCESS (Adaptive Computer Center for Effective Special Services). She also has worked extensively with Student Support Services on campus accessibility issues. Kristin says her motivation comes in considerable part from growing up in a family of 10 and having several people in her close and extended family who benefit from disability services.

-- Student. Matt Bower, a third-year student in actuarial science within the Department of Mathematics. He has involved himself in a variety of ways, including meeting with incoming students and their families. He also has taught various groups about what assistive technology is on campus and has been an influential part of shaping the Peer Mentor Program for students with disabilities. As an employee of the Assistive Technology Center, he helps students learn how to use a wide variety of hardware and software.

-- Organization. American Sign Language (ASL) Club at Purdue North Central. This highly active club sponsors regular events designed to bring deaf and hearing people together and "bridge the cultures." These occasions include silent lunches in the PNC cafeteria, silent dinners and game nights. The events are drawing people from the community and farther. The club also sponsors a one-day summer program for deaf and hearing children called "Let Your Stars Shine." The club also is paying the way for at least one youngster to attend the state's annual Camp Willard. The award was accepted by Stacey Gibson, the club's vice president, who is studying to become an ASL interpreter, on behalf of the membership.
Recipients shown in the accompanying photo are (from left) Matt Bower, third-year student in actuarial science within the Math Department (student award); Sherrie Kristin, library systems technical assistant at Purdue Calumet (staff award); Alex Taylor, historian in American Sign Language (ASL) Club at Purdue North Central (organization award); Doug Nelson, associate head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, accepting on behalf of William Jaffe, associate professor (faculty award); Stacey Gibson, vice president of the ASL Club at PNC. The awards were presented in the West Faculty Lounge, Purdue Memorial Union.