Ever feel like you are in a rut at work, running from one crisis to another stuck in the documentation, letters to faculty, and implementing procedures? The presenters will explore new ways of approaching DS practices and explore strategies to refocus your energy on becoming a campus leader who promotes appreciation of disability and models practices that lead to full participation for disabled people in higher education. In this interactive session, we will examine how the current approach of providing disability-related accommodations often gives the illusion of independence and equal opportunity, while in reality, forces disabled students to qualify for services, accept special treatment, and take on responsibilities for access that are far different from their non-disabled peers.
Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach, University of Arkansas
Melanie Thornton is the Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach at the University of Arkansas – Partners for Inclusive Communities. She provides professional development and technical assistance on topics related to disability, diversity, digital access, leadership, and design. She is very interested in working with organizations to create more accessible environments and to reframe perspectives of disability as an aspect of diversity. Prior to coming to the U of A, Melanie was the Associate Director of the Disability Resource Center and the Director of Project PACE at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. In the capacity of Director of Project PACE, she led the Disability Resource Center in a strategic planning process during which they changed their mission statement, reconfigured their organizational structure, and rewrote job descriptions and web content to reflect the values of the organization. She also led the campus community in increasing capacity related to web accessibility and inclusive curricular design. She served as a trainer for Project ShIFT—a national project that focused on developing the leadership skills of professionals across the country and supporting them in infusing disability studies perspectives into their practices. Melanie has presented internationally on topics related to disability and access and has worked as an independent consultant in a variety of capacities for 10 years. Melanie earned her master’s degree from Gallaudet University and her bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College.