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Focus Awards

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The Focus Awards are given annually to those affiliated with Purdue University who have made an outstanding contribution to the furthering of Purdue University's commitment to disability accessibility and disability diversity. These awards were started in March 2001 and were given to a faculty member, a staff member, and a student. Today, an organization is also recognized for its commitment along with the other three categories. Alumni and retirees within the appropriate category have also received Focus Awards. A description of the past Focus Award winners and their accomplishments can be found below.

To submit a nomination, please complete and return the 2014 Focus Award Nomination Form and attachments to Marcy Hintzman by Monday, January 27, 2014 at mhintzma@purdue.edu or by mail:

Office of Institutional Equity, Ernest C. Young Hall (YOUNG), 10th Floor
155 S. Grant Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2014

For questions or to request this form in an alternate format, call 494-7253 (voice), 496-1343 (TTY), or e-mail mhintzma@purdue.edu.

2014 Focus Award Nomination Form

 

 

2013

Faculty - Dr. Wendt

Early on, Dr. Wendt thought he was going to be an engineer, a mathematician, or a physicist.  After attending high school in Germany, in lieu of mandated military service, he completed community service in a preschool setting for infants and toddlers with severe and multiple disabilities.  This experience changed his career path and now Dr. Wendt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies and the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences here at Purdue University.  His major research interests are in Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  His current research focus is investigating communication strategies including graphic symbols, manual signs, and speech-generating devices for those individuals on the autism spectrum that present with little or no functional speech. 

This research focus all started with a treatment efficacy study in his lab on a picture book communication system for kids with severe autism.  The electronic book was cumbersome and expensive, and as the iPad came out, many parents were asking if there was a way for their children to transition to use the iPad.  Dr. Wendt investigated current apps available and did not find anything suitable for learners with autism.  That’s when he and his team started designing their own app, and SpeakAll! was conceived.  The iPad with SpeakAll! provides a more portable and more cost-efficient solution compared to electronic communication devices which can be several thousand dollars.  SpeakAll!, which is available for free, is also very easy to program and can be operated intuitively.  Dr. Wendt attributes the success of SpeakAll to the collaboration of many experts from a variety of disciplines – including engineering, graphics design, speech pathology, and special education.

Dr. Wendt states that kids with severe autism can make astonishing progress when provided with ongoing and systematic intervention.  He strongly believes that we should never give up or lower our expectations of these individuals.

When asked the one thing Dr. Wendt wished everyone knew about autism, he state that most individuals with autism are nothing like the title character portrayed by actor Dustin Hoffman in the “Rainman” movie.  There are less than 50 documented cases world-wide that have such extraordinary abilities.  Individuals with autism need ongoing, systematic and intense intervention to make gains in their development to improve on autistic symptoms and unlock their hidden abilities.

Purdue is fortunate to have Dr. Wendt on our faculty.  It is truly exciting to think of the impact this free app will have on children with autism all over the world.

Staff - Carrie Anderson

Officially, Carrie Anderson is the Dining Court Supervisor for Wiley Dining Court.  Unofficially, she is known as the food allergy guru, or the “go to” person for assisting students with food allergies here at Purdue.  Most people would not consider a food allergy as a disability.  Those with a severe food allergy who face profound consequences if they eat the wrong thing may disagree.  Ms. Anderson reminds us that dealing with food allergies is extremely stressful.  Her work in the area of food allergies started 15 years ago when her oldest son was born.  When he was eight months old, he was diagnosed with egg, milk, wheat and peanut allergies – thus throwing her into the food allergy world.  It was her experience as a mother of a child with food allergies that led her to bring this work to our campus.  She takes a personal approach to working with students and their families to develop an individualized plan to provide food and an environment that is safe for students to eat.  As a mother with a child with food allergies, in her words, she “Gets It!”

This past fall, Ms. Anderson provided training to one employee from each dining court on food allergies, and she is always seeking new and alternative options for dining facilities to serve students with allergies.  She also offered and gave a presentation at Boiler Gold Rush for students with food allergies.  Ms. Anderson has approached the Office of the Dean of Students to let them know that they can refer parents and students with food allergy concerns to her.  She even set up an e-mail address, allergicboiler@purdue.edu, that goes directly to her for parents or students who have questions, and is working to create a pamphlet with helpful information.  She was also put on the summer shift so she could be consulted on food allergy situations concerning Purdue’s summer campers.  Ms. Anderson speaks to colleges and universities across the nation at regional conferences for college food service associations on accommodating food allergies in residential dining facilities. 

Just last week, on February 25, Ms. Anderson was featured in the “Thumbs Up” section of Purdue Today.  The value of Ms. Anderson’s contributions is illustrated by the words of a parent who wrote, “My daughter is currently a sophomore at Purdue. She follows a gluten-free diet. Carrie Anderson, the dining court supervisor who specializes in food allergies, has been outstanding. She gave my daughter her cell number last year so that my daughter could text her when she was coming to the dining court and could tell her what she wanted so that she could have it ready for my daughter when she got there. That is going above and beyond. . . .  As a mother, I can't thank you enough for all that you have done to make my daughter's experience at Purdue a positive one. She absolutely loves going to Purdue and feels that it is the perfect fit for her. I honestly don't believe she would feel this way if it were not for all the wonderful staff that you have helping my daughter. Your staff has been exceptional. It is evident that they are there for the students and that is their priority. Again, thank you to all those who have contributed to the positive experience my daughter has had at Purdue and have helped make her college experience less stressful by accommodating her needs.”

Carrie Anderson has made and continues to make a difference for our students here at Purdue.  We commend her for the impact she is having on students with food allergies and the awareness she is spreading at our campus and at the national level.

Student - Mallory Chua

Mallory Chua, who goes by “Mel,” is a first-year doctoral student in Engineering Education.  After receiving a degree in electrical and computer engineering, Ms. Chua worked as an engineer in several open source companies.  When professors kept asking her how their students could work on her projects, she created summer workshops to teach faculty the open-source concept.  This led her back to school.  Her area of research itself is about accessibility – it focuses on enabling access to engineering knowledge through incorporating radical transparency practices from Free and Open Source communities into the course design processes of faculty members. 

This semester, Ms. Chua has been invited by the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences department at Purdue to revise and teach a graduate class on signal processing to second-year audiology clinical doctoral students.  With feedback and input from many of her friends from internet communities, who are self-described “technology geeks” with various hearing impairments, Ms. Chua takes advantage of the opportunity to help audiology students understand what their tech-savvy patients want them to know.  These efforts have resulted in a collaboration with the multidisciplinary engineering capstone course to work on designing solutions to make Purdue’s studio-style classrooms more accessible to people with hearing loss.  Ms. Chua also has an interest in increasing access to STEM disciplines to children with hearing loss.

Ms. Chua’s entry in the online Purdue directory states, “Deaf; please use text (email/SMS) to contact.  Frantic gestures or throwing a shoe across the room will also get my attention.”  Ms. Chua’s sense of humor and passion for her projects are evidenced by her attitude and actions.  She views writing as a form of teaching and keeps an active blog on just about everything she does, from dancing to speech therapy to research in engineering education.  She also developed a mini-workshop on the experience of living with hearing loss which is located on her blog. This workshop includes exercises for the participant – such as putting on a pair of headphones with music playing and trying to have a conversation with someone else.  (She notes that you can explain what you’re doing if you want, but it may be more fun if you don’t.  And, you get bonus points if it’s with a stranger.)  This workshop is currently being used by a Purdue student group doing a project on understanding what it’s like to have a disability. 

Ms. Chua reminds us that there is one world and we all experience it in a different way.  In her words, “There are billions of us out here, all interacting with the universe in our own ways – a multiplicity of ways of hearing, seeing, moving, thinking feeling … and to simplify things into ‘this is the hearing world and you are either deaf or hearing in it,’ is to miss out on a lot of richness as to what the world is and who people are.  Be aware of how you’re experiencing the world, and be aware that everyone you meet has their own experience of the universe, and that you don’t actually need to carve that universe into categories like “able/disabled” or “young/old” or “male/female” in order to experience and interact with it.”

Ms. Chua is a dynamic and enthusiastic student who has made a significant impact by educating others about hearing loss.  We are glad she is a part of the Purdue community.

Organization/Alumna - (ICAN) Indiana Canine Assistant Network

ICAN, which stands for the Indiana Canine Assistant Network, is an organization founded by Purdue alumna, Dr. Sally Irvin, in 2001.  ICAN’s mission is to train and place assistance dogs with children and adults with disabilities, while providing life and job skills to inmates within Indiana’s correctional facilities, who are responsible for training the dogs for service work.  ICAN brings together three diverse groups to empower people to live more enriched and independent lives:  Children and adults with disabilities and their families find they can live more independent and productive lives with the help of a service dog; Incarcerated adults who are carefully screened train these dogs and gain professional and life skills that help with a successful re-entry to our communities;  and the service dogs, which are naturally eager to be with people, are provided with work they enjoy.

There are nearly 450,000 people living with disabilities in Indiana.  Service dogs trained with specific skills and behaviors can provide people and their families with independence, confidence and a better quality of life.  Besides the unconditional love the dogs provide, they can provide services such as retrieving dropped or unreachable items, opening/closing doors and cabinets, and turning on/off light switches.  A service dog has the power to calm a child’s nerves in a courtroom.  They can provide their partner physical therapy by keeping them active.  Dogs can even give students the confidence in their learning as they sit while the student reads to them.  Service dogs have the power to impact an entire community of people who need them and also create a bridge to connect the non-disabled world with that of the disabled. 

ICAN’s initial home was in the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, where incarcerated adolescents interacted with dogs-in-training. While ICAN’s original efforts focused on at-risk adolescents, the organization soon realized that the bigger need for adolescents was to experience the unconditional love and healing that a puppy could bring. As a result, ICAN now focuses on adult inmates providing training to the service dogs, and children with disabilities receiving placement priority. Today, the robust program has around 40 dogs-in-training across three correctional facilities in Indiana and a group of over 75 volunteers and staff.

In her role, Dr. Irvin serves as the spokesperson for ICAN as well as leading the administration of the organization.  A Purdue ICAN Club was started in 2008 to promote, fundraise and volunteer for ICAN. ICAN has made a significant contribution to the lives and welfare and of children and adults with disabilities in Indiana communities.  Purdue University is proud to have an alumna whose mission is to positively enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities.

 

2012

Faculty - Dr. Maren Linett

Dr. Maren Linett is an associate professor in the Department of English.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, Professor Linett designed and taught a course titled “Modernism and Disability.” This course offers students in the English Department and across the university the opportunity to engage in meaningful critical discussions about how disability is represented in language and in art and to recognize and question the normative assumptions that often arise in contemporary political discourse. During this course, students examine how disability was represented in the early twentieth century in texts and discuss these representations alongside a selection of contemporary advocacy texts that prompt students to imagine how access, equality, and positive representations of disability may be achieved in the future. Through Dr. Linett’s direction in class, students explore how advocacy for disability rights can be complemented by re-imagining what constitutes valuable human life.  Other issues discussed in Dr. Linett’s class include issues of medical ethics and how disability can be represented not in terms of “lack” but in terms of “difference,” and these issues will become increasingly important in the humanities and in public discourse more generally in the coming decades.

In addition to the “Modernism and Disability” course, Dr. Linett taught a 400-level class on “Literature and Disability” for English majors during the 2011-2012 academic year. These classes grew out of Dr. Linett’s own initiative and commitment, not because of departmental need or request. Dr. Linett is also working on a book-length study provisionally entitled Modernism and Disability, and she organized a seminar in 2010 entitled “Modernism and Disability.”  Dr. Linett is one of a small group of faculty in the English Department and at Purdue who seek to develop disabilities studies courses and scholarship. Dr. Linett's dedication to developing disability studies courses and scholarship isn't going to end with the new classes. In the near future, she hopes to help form an interdisciplinary minor at Purdue.  We are very pleased to have her leadership in this area at Purdue.

Staff - Ms. Wilella Burgess and Dr. Perry Kirkham

In 2010, the Institute for Accessible Science (IAS) was established at Purdue University through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pathfinder Award with a mission to promote the inclusion and retention of persons with disabilities in biomedical science careers through practical laboratory experiences, assistive technology development, student and educator support services, and research.  Ms. Wilella Burgess and Dr. Perry Kirkham were an integral part in bringing the IAS to fruition. 

As project coordinator with the Office of the Vice President for Research, Dr. Kirkham has been a tireless advocate for bringing attention to disability research among faculty and administrators on an institutional level. With no academic program in assistive technology or disability research, Dr. Kirkham realized the importance of developing a prominent presence at Purdue for promoting STEM education for students with disabilities, especially in the life sciences. Discussions between a few assistive technology researchers and Dr. Kirkham led to the idea that a large center grant could be an effective means of bringing research on STEM education for students with disabilities to Purdue. Dr. Kirkham’s continual dedication in engaging faculty researchers and administrators from disciplines across campus to consider collaborating in this area eventually resulted in Dr. Brad Duerstock and Dr. Susan Mendrysa being awarded a $2 Million NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award in 2010 to promote the inclusion of underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences. This was only one of six grants awarded in the nation and the only one to focus on broadening the participation of persons with disabilities in the sciences. Dr. Kirkham was not only involved in every aspect of developing the grant proposal to establish the IAS at Purdue, he was also essential in forming the team that was critical to the success of this endeavor. Many of these researchers had never considered working in assistive technology prior to being contacted by Dr. Kirkham. Ms. Burgess, managing director of the Discovery Learning Research Center, was also integral in the planning stages and development of the proposal for the NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to establish the IAS. When lead faculty investigators, Dr. Duerstock and Dr. Mendrysa, received the NIH Director’s Pathfinder award, Ms. Burgess continued on to serve as an unpaid advisory board member for the IAS.  Ms. Burgess’ efforts have helped with the early stages of establishing the structure of the Institute and the planning and external evaluation of Institute activities. Ms. Burgess was also instrumental in enabling the IAS to renovate laboratory space at the Disability Resource Center in order to create an accessible biomedical immersive laboratory for students and scientists with physical disabilities to practice lab research techniques and experiments.  Her efforts in promoting STEM education for students with disabilities have been critical in establishing and launching the IAS.

Ms. Burgess and Dr. Kirkham’s commitment and efforts with the establishment of the IAS will have far-reaching impact on students with disabilities at Purdue.

Student - Ron Carr

Ron Carr was a doctoral student pursuing a degree in Learning Design and Technology in the College of Education at Purdue when he received a 2012 Focus Award.  Mr. Carr was the inspiration for and president of a student organization called BADD (Boilers with ADD/ADHD). Mr. Carr created BADD in the summer of 2011as he became aware of so many Purdue students struggling with issues in relation to their ADD/ADHD. BADD’s goals are to provide support for one another, share in community and campus resources, and participate in service and outreach to the campus and community.  First and foremost, Mr. Carr and participating students hope to educate the Purdue community about the challenges of students with ADD/ADHD.  As founder and President of BADD, Mr. Carr has spearheaded a number of public awareness and outreach events.  In October 2011, BADD hosted a free screening of the ground-breaking documentary, “ADD & Loving it?!” to mark ADHD Awareness Week, and Dr. Sydney Zentall, Professor in Special Education and Psychological Science in the Department of Educational Studies, led a successful discussion with the audience members following the screening. 

Under Mr. Carr’s leadership, BADD developed many more plans for the 2011-2012 spring semester, including hosting monthly dinner get-togethers, a bake sale, and plans to locate and obtain space for an ADHD Resource Center on Purdue campus.  The organization plans to create workshops that will focus on assisting Purdue students to develop strategies that will help them consistently implement study skills and time management skills. During the 2011-2012 academic year, BADD began developing a “coaching buddy” program that would partner students to keep each other accountable for their school work.  BADD’s plans also included the to development of an Anti-Bullying program to share with area schools, and is also working on forming an affiliation with the local Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a national non-profit organization serving individuals with ADHD and their families.  Mr. Carr is a dynamic and enthusiastic leader with many creative ideas that will aid BADD in becoming a well-known presence on campus.  Mr. Carr is also a deeply committed individual who has already begun to leave his mark on the Purdue University community with his efforts to provide more support and resources to students with ADD/ADHD.

Organization - PETE's PALS

PETE’s PALS, Physical Education Teacher Educators Supporting Physical Activity and Life Skills, is an aquatic and motor program offered for children with disabilities that was initially started in 2005 as a service-learning component of Health and Kinesiology 326: Foundations of Adapted Physical Education. The official founder was Susan Flynn, who was a clinical faculty member at the time. When Ms. Flynn left Purdue in the spring of 2009, PETE’s PALS stopped functioning. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Kevin Richards was asked to teach a summer session version of HK 326 and needed a field placement for his students. Mr. Richards contacted Ms. Lori Eubank, who is a special education teacher at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School, and asked if she would be willing to do a session of PETE’s PALS with him that summer. They were able to get a small-scale version of PETE’s PALS off the ground for what was initially intended to be a one-time session. However, after experiencing the program and the way in which it touched the children in the community, Mr. Richards and Ms. Eubank agreed to continue offering PETE’s PALS and took the necessary steps to make it an officially recognized Purdue University program through the Department of Health and Kinesiology.

PETE’s PALS has the ability to serve approximately 60 local children with disabilities while engaging 75-80 Purdue students in service-learning during each semester. The program is designed to help the participating children become efficient movers in a fun and safe environment. Each child in the program is assigned a trained clinician who works one-on-one for the two hour gym and swim program. Throughout the PETE’s PALS program, parents are also provided with opportunities to engage with one another and with invited guest speakers. Guest speakers include key individuals such as adapted physical education teachers, occupational therapists, and special education professionals. Through these meetings, parents are provided with information to help advocate for their children in the educational environment and enhance knowledge to assist their children’s motor needs at home. 

During the 2011-2012 academic year, Mr. Richards taught HK 326 and reintegrated PETE’s PALS into the class so that students studying adapted physical education received the experience of serving as clinicians. Student leadership positions were also added to the program to allow undergraduate and graduate students who have been involved to take on additional program responsibilities. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Mr. Wesley Wilson coordinated the physical activity component of the program and Mr. William Robbins developed and implemented the aquatics section.  PETE’s PALS, a much-needed program, has made a significant impact not only here at Purdue but also in our local community by providing a safe learning environment for all that are involved.

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2011

Faculty - Professor Bernard Wulle

Professor Bernard Wulle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Aviation Technology. In the summer of 2010, he helped bring Able Flight to the Purdue campus, giving students with physical disabilities a chance to learn how to fly. Able Flight is a scholarship organization that works with flight schools that provide aviation training. Able Flight’s mission is to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance. As a result of Professor Wulle bringing Able Flight to Purdue, two individuals with physical disabilities, Heather Schultz and Chris Spaur, have had the opportunity to earn their pilot certificates after five weeks of hard work and training provided by instructors from Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology. Able Flight has opened up a whole new world for Chris as he is now working toward obtaining his commercial certificate. Professor Wulle hopes to expand the current partnership with Able Flight and help people with physical disabilities consider potential careers in aviation, including opportunities in flight, maintenance, management, and the Federal Aviation Administration. Professor Wulle has stated, “We should explore all sorts of possibilities to train and educate not only students but also corporations to take a look at some of these folks.” Professor Wulle’s vision and efforts have helped open up a world of possibilities for individuals with disabilities.

Staff - Kristopher Knotts

Kristopher Knotts is the Web Marketing and Development Manager in the Krannert School of Management. Mr. Knotts is currently serving as a key member of the Web Accessibility Committee, a volunteer committee that was instrumental in bringing to fruition the Web Accessibility Policy, which became effective March 15, 2010. As a member of the Web Accessibility Committee, he has made major contributions to the University in the area of web accessibility. Mr. Knotts created a self-guided training module, which is available on the Web Accessibility Committee Website, and is a valuable resource to assist Purdue departments and units with improving the accessibility of their Websites. He also assisted with the creation of the Committee’s instructor-led training and helped co-present this popular training to the campus. Mr. Knotts takes time from his many duties in Krannert to answer technical questions that individuals have in regard to improving the accessibility of their Web pages. In addition to these efforts, Mr. Knotts volunteered his time to speak at the 2009 Disability Awareness Month reception about web accessibility. Mr. Knotts continually dedicates his time and efforts to educating the Purdue campus on web accessibility, and in doing so, he has made a significant impact on increasing information access for individuals with disability here at Purdue University.

Student - Alexander Camarota

Alexander Camarota, a Purdue graduate, was a graduate student in the College of Liberal Arts’ Master of Fine Arts program for creative writing at Purdue when he received the Focus Award. Mr. Camarota spent several months at Purdue before working with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to receive academic accommodations. He wrote about this time, “I was uncertain of how to define my disability, of how to even define myself and my position in the world.” Once he made that first step, he has begun to explore Deaf identity, American Sign Language, and the Deaf community. Mr. Camarota joined the DRC’s peer mentor program, and he began tutoring undergraduate students and sitting on panels about disability. He also turned his attention to basketball, petitioning for Closed Captions at Mackey Arena. As a result, he was invited by Intercollegiate Athletics to help evaluate demonstrations and tests of the closed captioning systems. Throughout his time at Purdue, Mr. Camarota continued to explore his own uncertainties through writing, and, spring of 2010, he earned the PEFCU Award for Creative Nonfiction for a piece called “Discapability.” In 2010, he successfully lobbied the DRC and the Diversity Resource Office to co-sponsor a workshop titled “Writing the Disability. Breaking the Myth,” which Mr. Camarota facilitated. In the final week of the workshop, some of the participants gave a public reading of their works, which was also compiled into an anthology. At the reading, Mr. Camarota summarized much of his inspiration and philosophy for the workshop:

“When I write, I am ‘deaf,’ and not ‘hard-of-hearing,’ I am accepting an uncertainty in my life. I am accepting that I do not live in a hearing world. And yet, I do not live in, as the cliché goes, ‘a silent world.’ What is most important is that I finally accepted something about myself and with that acceptance, an entire new world opened up, one with sound and silence and everything in between. It is still an uncertain position, and I am okay with it; I welcome it, and I welcome the opportunities it gives me to share with others. If John Keats could go bravely, but uncertainly, in the next world, we can all go into the uncertainties of this world, and writing can be our vehicle.”

Mr. Camarota facilitated this workshop again in 2011 with the continued sponsorship of the DRC and the DRO. He also participated on a panel for an event  in 2011 for Disability Awareness Month titled “Interacting with People with Disabilities.” Mr. Camarota has been a unique and valuable contributor to the Purdue community through his extensive and continued efforts in the area of accessibility and disability.

Organization - Campus Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office

The Campus Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office was created in December 2006 to oversee the emergency preparedness and planning activities on Purdue University’s West Lafayette Campus. This office, under the supervision of Director Ron Wright, was awarded the Emergency Management for Higher Education grant from the Department of Education. The grant supports institutions of higher education projects designed to develop, or review and improve, and fully integrate campus-based all-hazards emergency management planning efforts. One of the requirements of the grant was to develop a transportation plan for people with disabilities. The Campus Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office took this requirement a step further by developing an “At-Risk Campus Populations Plan” for inclusion into the University’s integrated Emergency Management Plan to provide guidance in all areas of emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities, not just with transportation. The office met with key members on campus that work with people with disabilities, listened to their feedback, and then incorporated recommendations into this comprehensive plan. As a result of this open collaboration, the office has developed sustained partnerships with these individuals and departments. The office also rewrote and implemented a voluntary registry system, whereby all individuals who feel they may need additional assistance in times of emergency can voluntarily indentify themselves and express their specific needs to public safety responders in advance of their need. In addition, the Campus Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office developed a Mental Health Resources Plan, which proactively addresses mental health issues among the university’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The plan is a valuable resource that provides practical guidance intervention and response methods. Jefferson Howells, Assistant Project Director of Management in the office, presented a session on emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities in 2011 for Disability Awareness Month, a session he created for Disability Awareness Month in 2010. The Campus Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office’s efforts in securing and implementing this grant have helped the University make significant and important strides in improving Purdue’s emergency planning efforts for individuals with disabilities.

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2010

Faculty - Dr. Marifran Mattson

Dr. Marifran Mattson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication. In 2004 she was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident in which her left leg was severed above the knee. While teaching her graduate and undergraduate classes upon her return to Purdue, Dr. Mattson was challenged by her students to embark on a motorcycle safety campaign. Subsequently, the Motorcycle Safety at Purdue Campaign rolled out in the Fall of 2006. A dedicated team of student volunteers continues to work on the campaign. Dr. Mattson was also the driving force behind a new law in Indiana that will increase insurance coverage of prosthetics. As the chair of the Indiana Amputee Insurance Protection Coalition, Dr. Mattson has worked alongside fellow amputees, prosthetists, and caregivers to fight for state House Bill 1140. This law, which will help current and future amputees, became effective on July 1, 2008. Though Dr. Mattson is an amputee, the state bill will not specifically help her. Her insurance through Purdue University is on the federal level, and the coalition is lobbying for a similar bill on the federal level. The Prosthetic & Custom Orthotic Act of 2009 (H.R.2575) was introduced in the House on May 21, 2009. The coalition has worked with Senator Olympia J. Snowe's office to get the bill introduced in the Senate. This bill will ensure amputees get the healthcare they need to live active, independent lives. Dr. Mattson also volunteers her time to share her experiences by speaking to students.

Staff - Jodi James

Jodi James served as the Disabilities Services Coordinator for the Student Support Services program at Purdue North Central (PNC) from December 2000-September 2009. During her employment at PNC, she excelled in her commitment to disability accessibility and diversity. Mrs. James played a key role in effectively coordinating accommodations for students with disabilities, providing high-quality academic counseling to students with diverse backgrounds, and delivering workshops and seminars to faculty, staff and students. Through her active involvement on the campus ADA Steering Committee, she was instrumental in making the campus more accessible by, for example, increasing campus signage to include Braille. In addition, she demonstrated a connection with the community disabilities agencies and served on the Board of Directors for Michiana Resources, Incorporated. Her extensive knowledge of the law, the disability community, and her positive attitude were factors in her significant commitment and achievements towards disability accessibility and awareness at PNC. Mrs. James presented on various disability related topics at the state level, including the Indiana Chapter of the Mid American Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel and Indiana AHEAD. In addition, Mrs. James was appointed by the late Governor Frank O’Bannon to serve as a member of the Indiana Council of Independent Living, on which she served from 2001-2007. Mrs. James attended rallies in both Washington, DC and Chicago, IL to raise awareness of individuals with disabilities. Not only did she ensure students on the PNC campus received appropriate accommodations, Mrs. James took her advocacy from the regional level to the national level. Mrs. James regularly went above and beyond her formal position in the PNC Student Support Services program to advocate for greater disability accessibility and diversity.

Student - Richard Weatherford

Richard Weatherford, a Purdue graduate, was in his first year of graduate school studying History when he received the Focus Award. However, he changed his area of studies to Rehabilitation Counseling as result of his work and involvement in the area of disabilities. Mr. Weatherford had been an unfailing participant in almost every available opportunity to increase awareness of disability-related issues and to advocate on behalf of his fellow students with disabilities. Mr. Weatherford worked to educate faculty and staff about the individual differences that exist among disabilities, even with disabilities that fit within the same category. Mr. Weatherford was the President of the Disability Resource Center student group, Advocating Disability Awareness to Purdue Students (ADAPS). With little guidance, Mr. Weatherford resurrected the student group and co-authored the ADAPS Constitution. With Mr. Weatherford's leadership, the ADAPS student group focused their energies on specific goals and tasks, including a transition program with students from Ivy Tech and area high schools, providing information regarding disabilities to a major corporation and by doing so securing grant money, expanding social/professional networks and connections, registering with Get Involved as an official campus organization, and by increasing visibility of students with disabilities by participating in numerous on-campus outreach events, such as My Purdue days and the Office of the Dean of Students Diversity Committee brown bag series. Mr. Weatherford exhibits qualities of a strong leader-one who puts others above himself and continues to be dedicated to broadening and expanding the scope and perception of disability.

Alumni - Sharon Arvin Byrkett

Sharon Arvin Byrkett, a Purdue alumna, made a huge impact on the Purdue campus. She wanted an opportunity for a college degree but initially needed the support of her family to attend classes. Mrs. Byrkett, her sister, and a group of friends who also used wheelchairs, wanted to enroll in Purdue classes, attend athletic events, attend events in the Hall of Music, and participate in student organization activities. At that time there was no way for a person with a significant mobility disability to access the campus. In response to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Mrs. Byrkett led a movement that changed the face of the Purdue campus and the attitudes of many administrators, faculty members, service providers and students. Mrs. Byrkett helped organize and lead the first annual Handicapped Awareness Days on campus. She persuaded administrators, faculty, student leaders, and Physical Plant workers to "accept" an assigned disability and live a day coping with blindness, a hearing impairment, or using crutches or a wheelchair. As designs were drawn for various building modifications, Mrs. Byrkett and some of her group met with the planners to talk through the modifications. When projects were finished, Mrs. Byrkett and her nucleus of students were invited to visit and critique their effectiveness. Much of the physical access one sees today on our campus began with the momentum Mrs. Byrkett developed. As a result of the positive changes Mrs. Byrkett fostered, she was able to attend a Christmas Show in the Hall of Music, use the women's restroom in FWA-4, access Hovde Hall via the new lift on the Ground Floor, enter Stewart Center to attend meetings, and park reasonably close to her classes. Mrs. Byrkett was a determined change agent who left a deep and permanent mark on Purdue. She easily won the hearts of Purdue faculty and staff.  Her success was our success.

Organization - Ford Dining Court

Ford Dining Court opened in August of 2004 as the first free-standing and newest place to eat on campus, employing nearly 300 part-time student workers at any point in time. Global diversity and age diversity have been a part of the culture of Ford Dining Court since its beginning. But, even with a culturally diverse workforce, Ford staff still needed more help at lunches. Ford needed assistance from other "under- utilized/non- traditional" employee groups, available during the lunch service time. Ford had huge numbers to serve everyday that first semester (typically over 8000 daily). In response to this need, Ford developed the program "Beyond Limitations: An Environment of Inclusiveness, Caring, Comfort, and Success." This program targets the hiring of physically and emotionally challenged individuals from the Greater Lafayette community. Ford works with local high school transitional work programs and employment agencies that assist people with disabilities in finding and obtaining employment, in order to find "good fit" opportunities for temporary employees at Ford Dinning Court. This work brings a sense of pride and contribution to members of our community who are all too often not considered a vital part of the workforce. Temporary employees are given tasks suited to their situations. Their efforts are making Ford a shining example of excellence on campus. Moreover, the joy temporary employees find in their contributions is infectious, making Ford an even more pleasant place to work.

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2009

Faculty: Dr. William Jaffe

Dr. William Jaffe is an Associate Professor in Hospitality and Tourism Management. He has been an active member of the Advisory Council on Disability Issues (ACDI) for over 10 years and serves as the Chair of the Council. ACDI is a voluntary committee that serves in an advisory capacity to the Disability Resource Center. Dr. Jaffe and ACDI  have addressed accessibility concerns related to the location of the Disability Resource Center office on the Purdue-West Lafayette campus and are working to address access to job search and employment opportunities for students with disabilities. In the past, he has been involved in issues surrounding the distribution of the letters sent to instructors describing a student's accommodations. Dr. Jaffe has been an active voice for disability issues on the Purdue-West Lafayette campus, promoting important disability issues that impact stakeholders throughout the Purdue system, particularly students. He has contributed greatly to the Purdue campus through his advocacy for disability issues and his efforts to promote disability awareness. Dr. Jaffe has given of his personal time in order to give greater visibility to disability awareness and has helped advise and speak to important areas of need addressed by the Disability Resource Center.

Staff: Sherrie Kristin

Sherrie Kristin is Purdue Calumet's Library Systems Technical Assistant. She has worked closely with the Student Support Services office when there has been a need for accessibility to the campus and assistive technology in the library, computer labs, and other areas on campus. Ms. Kristin championed two initiatives to empower people, remove barriers, and disable labels. She supported the establishment of ACCESS (Adaptive Computer Center for Effective Special Services) by writing a grant that made available four computers, scanners, and assistive software for students with disabilities. She also supported collaboration with the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities in the Student Support Services office in order to resolve ADA concerns on campus. In addition to these initiatives, Ms. Kristin has served and continues to serve on several committees, giving her the opportunity to advocate for equal access for persons with disabilities at the Purdue Calumet campus. Some of these committees include the ADA Advisory Committee, Ambassador for New Hires, Academic Technology Operations Group, Barrier Free Website Team, and the Great Lakes User Group Meeting of which she serves as chair. Ms. Kristin regularly goes above and beyond her formal position in the Calumet Library System to advocate for greater accessibility for students with disabilities.

Student: Matt Bowers

Matt Bowers was a third year student in Actuarial Science within the Math Department when he received the Focus Award. There were many contributions that Mr. Bowers gave to assist the University's furtherance of its commitment to disability accessibility and diversity. Mr. Bowers had been willing to meet with incoming students and their families to share information and to discuss his experiences at Purdue. He offered his service and time as an employee at the Assistive Technology Center (ATC) by assisting students in learning the technology needed to access a variety of things at Purdue such as course materials, computer hardware and software, closed caption television training, and computer software training. He was also willing to teach others in the community about the technology available for students with visual impairments. Mr. Bowers offered his insight and feedback as a consultant to the Steering Committee for the Peer Mentor Program. The Peer Mentor program is designed to connect students with disabilities by pairing incoming freshman with an upper-class student. The program's intent is to help personalize the university experience, create connectedness for students with disabilities, and offer support for new students. His ideas were instrumental in the overall concept and development of the Peer Mentor program.

Organization: Purdue North Central American Sign Language Club

As one of the most active student organizations on the Purdue North Central (PNC) campus, the American Sign Language (ASL) Club is a student organization that is dedicated to the promotion of ASL among the PNC students, to foster a greater understanding of the deaf culture and to bring deaf and hearing people from the community together with events that are fun and educational. The ASL Club holds weekly silent lunches in the PNC cafeteria that bring students together. Each month the ASL Club also organizes silent dinners, game nights, and silent coffees in the community. The events on campus and in the community have traditionally been standing room only with some people traveling as many as three hours to attend. Events for children are particularly popular and attract deaf youngsters and their parents as well as hearing children who have deaf friends or relatives or whose parents want them to have a greater understanding of and an appreciation for the deaf culture. Local deaf clubs and service organizations have donated funds, services and supplies in support of the events organized by the ASL Club. The ASL Club also sponsors, "Let Your Stars Shine," a summer program for children both deaf and hearing. The children enjoy a day spent learning signs and rehearsing and acting out a skit. The ASL Club also offers an annual spring retreat at the Indiana School for the Deaf, presented by the Indiana Chapter of Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Thanks to the ASL Club's activities, many PNC students have been made aware of sign language, deaf culture, as well as new career opportunities.

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2008

Faculty/Academic Award: Bradley Duerstock, Richard Borgens, John Cirillo, J. Paul Robinson, Wamiq Ahmed, and Ala Samarapungavan

Bradley Duerstock, was an Assistant Research Professor at the Center for Paralysis Research when he was awarded the Focus Award; Dr. Duerstock was  the project's principal investigator. Dr. Duerstock is now an Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Richard Borgens, Mari Hulman George Professor of Applied Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Paralysis Research; Dr. Borgens was the principal investigator during the first phase of the project.

John Cirillo, Electronics/Computer Specialist at the Center for Paralysis Research; Mr. Cirillo provided his electronics expertise throughout both phases of the project and was a team member.

J. Paul Robinson, School of Veterinary Medicine Professor of Cytomics, professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Purdue University Cytometry Laboratories, and Deputy Director for Cytometrics and Imaging in the Bindley Biosciences Center; Dr. Robinson served as consultant to the project.

Wamiq Ahmed, was a Graduate Research Assistant in Basic Medical Sciences when he received the Focus Award; Dr. Ahmed earned his doctoral degree from Purdue University. He developed the software for the project.

Ala Samarapungavan, was an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology and Interim Head, Department of Educational Studies when she was awarded the Focus Award; Dr. Samarapungavan contributed her expertise in the area of assessment to the project.  Dr. Samarapungavan is now a Full Professor and Department Head of Educational Studies.

The AccessScope Project was designed and developed to allow persons with mobility impairments to independently control all aspects of light microscopy. The AccessScope Project system can perform brightfield and fluorescence microscopy, image analysis, and tissue morphometry necessary for undergraduate science coursework to graduate level research. The goal of the AccessScope Project was to allow students with disabilities to be able to perform light microscopy with minimal or no assistance required, eliminating the need to hire an assistant or rely on the assistance of a "lab buddy" or classmate.

The Project operates under the belief that access to light microscopy is necessary for students with disabilities to learn one of the most essential laboratory techniques utilized in the life and physical sciences. Project team members hoped to foster activity-based learning by allowing students with mobility and visual impairments the capability to independently operate a microscope. Microscopy is one of the most common laboratory techniques used in the biological, geological, food, and materials sciences. Accessible microscopy is especially important when students are ready to perform independent research and continue a career in the STEM fields.

Methods that promote access in the laboratory environment would not only permit students with disabilities physical accommodation, but would allow them to interact more in classroom demonstrations and to actively participate in laboratory exercises. Physical access to classrooms and laboratories is important, but active participation of students with disabilities is paramount for learning. The ability of students to actively explore and interact with scientific concepts and practices grants a more thorough educational experience than simply observing. Activity-based learning is important for students with disabilities to gain the same educational experiences as their classmates.

Staff Award: Robert Mate and Gail Polles

Robert "Rob" Mate, Associate Dean of Students, Office of the Dean of Students

Gail Polles, Staff Therapist, Purdue University Student Health Center

When Ms. Polles was awarded the Focus Award, she was a member of the University's counseling staff in Counseling and Psychological Services, which she had become a member of in the fall of 1991. Mr. Mate began his career at Purdue as a Graduate Administrative Professional in 1993 and is now an Associate Dean of Students.

Success in college is dependent on a number of prerequisite skills that don't come naturally to individuals with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. College students must develop the ability to juggle competing social and academic demands and to independently form daily routines. They must also have acquired the strategies needed to complete long-term papers and projects, to conquer the voluminous reading assignments, and to prepare for infrequent tests.

About three years prior to receiving the Focus Award, these two staff members saw a need. A need for students diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or AD/HD, to have an opportunity to learn how to cope with college life and incorporate strategies to manage their disorder. To assist this group of students, Mr. Mate and Ms. Polles developed a coaching group, Make It Happen, that facilitated skill development, and provided support, structure, and feedback. Specifically, the coaching group promoted growth and independence, helped with skill development, and addressed the practical matters of daily living and of academic, social, and personal skills, to name some areas of development that were touched on at group meetings.

Both Ms. Polles and Mr. Mate have jobs at the University that entail full-time duties. Make It Happen was formed, by these two individuals who are part of two different offices on campus, because Ms. Polles and Mr. Mate saw a need and worked together to meet that need for students with AD/HD in order to provide an avenue for success at the University and beyond.

Student Award: Chelsea Koch and Jamie Sommers

Chelsea Koch was a senior in the School of Health Sciences when she received the Focus Award. Her major was Preoccupational Therapy.

Jamie Sommers was a senior in the College of Engineering when she received the Focus Award.  Her major was Materials Engineering.

Ms. Koch served as a service provider for students with disabilities for Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, since the fall of 2004. She performed notetaking, reading, and tutoring services.

Beginning in August 2005, Ms. Sommers worked as a service provider for students with disabilities. Her primary job was to provide notetaker service. She was also a reader and a scribe for students who required assistance during exams.

As notetakers, Ms. Sommers and Ms. Koch attended classes with students with disabilities, to take detailed notes, and interacted with the students before or after class to clarify/explain the lecture material.

In addition, Ms. Sommers assisted a blind student in three physics and technology labs, where she was responsible for working with the instructor to make the procedures and exercises accessible.

During their years as members of the Adaptive Programs team, Ms. Koch and Ms. Sommers worked with students with a range of physical disabilities.

Both women are described as warm, expressive, enthusiastic, compassionate, competent, and extremely responsible. They seem to have infinite energy, a consistently optimistic orientation toward life, and a high degree of self-confidence. The students for whom they have worked gave them superlative evaluations, describing them as dependable, patient, sensitive, conscientious, and very well organized. Despite their numerous commitments, both Jamie and Chelsea were able to maintain an outstanding academic record while serving students in a highly professional manner.

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2007

Faculty: Karen D. Donah

Ms. Karen D. Donah is a Continuing Lecturer in American Sign Language. Ms. Donah was first employed by Purdue North Central from 1991 to 1997 in Information Services. She returned to the University in January 2006 as a Visiting Assistant Professor to teach American Sign Language (ASL) classes after having done so for several years as a Limited Term Lecturer. In August of 2006, Ms. Donah was hired as a Continuing Term Lecturer to not only teach ASL, but begin to develop recommendations for curriculum in ASL and Interpreting. Ms. Donah supported and encouraged the use of technology in developing accommodations for students with disabilities while she was employed in Information Systems, but her real impact occurred while she was teaching American Sign Language. She, among other innovations, instituted a "Silent Lunch" program where ASL students and others join Ms. Donah for lunch conversing only in ASL. Another very popular innovation had been the PNC American Sign Language Game Night. This event was open to students, the deaf community, and other interested members of the public. Nina Coyer, Ms. Donah's sister, who is a deaf ASL interpreter professor at Eastern Kentucky University and Roger Coyer, a deaf retired teacher and football coach at Kentucky School for the Deaf have been on campus at Ms. Donah's invitation to relate their experiences as deaf individuals growing up in a hearing world. Ms. Donah continues to develop and provide opportunities for her students, for the deaf community in northwest Indiana, and for the general public to grow and learn individually and together. Not stopping there, Ms. Donah has also significantly contributed to building awareness and sensitivity to issues specifically related to the deaf and by extension to all individuals with disabilities within the administration and faculty.

Staff: Shawn M. Rice

When Mr. Shawn M. Rice was awarded the Focus Award, he worked in the Birck Nanotechnology Center and was focusing his attention on the nanoHUB, a highly specialized nanotechnology site that is carving a unique niche in nanotechnology experimentation online. The nanoHUB is a web-based initiative spearheaded by the National Science Foundation-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN). The NCN has a vision to pioneer the development of nanotechnology from science to manufacturing through innovative theory, exploratory simulation, and novel cyber infrastructure. Mr. Rice was the web developer for the Birck Nanotechnology Center and he followed the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines are used to assist web developers in creating web sites that are accessible to people with varying disabilities ranging from sensory impairments to learning disabilities. For example, Mr. Rice's sites can be accessed using JAWS for Windows, a screen-reading program used by individuals who are blind. Mr. Rice says, "Non-standard web sites have messy code, cumbersome code [allowing] little to no accessibility to disabled users." Navigating sites that do not conform to the W3C guidelines is a pet peeve of his. He is a great advocate for people with disabilities because of his commitment to ensure web sites are accessible. Mr. Rice has been at Purdue for a number of years. Before working at Birck, he earned both his bachelor's degree in computer science and his master's degree in information technology from Purdue University.  Mr. Rice is now a Senior Web Application Programmer in ITaP Academic Technologies. 

Student: Joseph A. Humbert

Mr. Joseph A. Humbert was a 2nd year graduate student in Special Education when he received the Focus Award. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Graphics Technology from Purdue University. Mr. Humbert was an assistant to Mr. David Schwarte, Assistive Technology Specialist, in the Assistive Technology Center formerly Adaptive Learning Programs Laboratory (ALPs Lab) for several years. Along with his assigned standard duties (i.e. training, technical assistance, research of new products), Mr. Humbert frequently went above and beyond the defined range of his job when working at the lab. For example, he enjoyed assisting students who have special needs with specific issues regarding their personal equipment. In one instance, he went to the home of a visually impaired student on his own time to help that student set up his internet access. Mr. Humbert has also made numerous attempts to bring up the issue of web accessibility and its importance in his various classes. He was making a sincere effort to improve communication and to explain the importance of web accessibility in the educational process. To this end and beyond his classroom activity, Mr. Humbert participated in extra work with Macromedia and with other vendors so that he might better understand accessibility issues related to their products and might also hopefully convince these vendors to improve their products. It has always been Mr. Humbert's desire to ensure that the Purdue students with disabilities are able to understand how to use available technology, and not just the assistive technology of the ALPs lab Assistive Technology Center. Mr. Humbert was also very desirous in ensuring that all of Purdue's information technology services were made accessible to the entirety of the university's students, faculty, and staff.

Organization: Hoosier ADAPT

Hoosier ADAPT is a student organization at Purdue University Calumet dedicated to advocating for students with disabilities and promoting inclusion. The student organization is active in various campus activities which include participation from students, faculty, and staff both with and without a disability. The group is instrumental in bringing about change on the Purdue University Calumet campus. The organization collaborates with the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities office regarding disability awareness and accessibility for persons with disabilities. Hoosier ADAPT has organized events on the Purdue University Calumet campus to promote inclusion and awareness of people with disabilities. The group has helped promote Don't (Dis) My Art, an exhibit showing art created by individuals who have physical disabilities limiting mobility. Dante Ventresca, Director of Theatre of Inclusion, made a special appearance for this event. Hoosier ADAPT also showed the video, "My Left Foot." The film is about the life of Christy Brown, a man born with cerebral palsy who learned to paint and write with his only controllable limb - his left foot. The organization had an open discussion forum afterwards. Hoosier ADAPT also coordinated "Walking in my Shoes," an event that allowed people (with the assistance of others) to experience what it would be like to have a disability, including using a wheelchair and hearing and visual impairments. The event was open to faculty, staff, and other professionals and Purdue University Calumet's former Vice Chancellor, Leo Bryant, participated in it.

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2006

Faculty: Dr. Nicoletta Adamo-Villani and Dr. Ronnie B. Wilbur

Dr. Nicoletta Adamo-Villani is an Associate Professor of Computer Graphics Technology, and Dr. Ronnie B. Wilbur is a Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and is also the Director Chair of the Linguistics Program. Through Dr. Adamo-Villani's knowledge of computer graphics technology and Dr. Wilbur's knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL), these two professors collaborated to create an animated rabbit which signs ASL and fingerspells. They are researching ways to develop programs with activities that can be used to teach math to primary school children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and who use ASL as their primary form of communication. This technology could also be useful in assisting the guardians and teachers of these students as well. Dr. Wilbur has conducted much research into the nonmanual tasks (or facial expressions) of ASL and their interface role with regards to syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and intonation. Dr. Wilbur and Dr. Adamo-Villani both agree that facial expressions, hand movements, and body language are very important components of how human beings communicate with each other. Although their National Science Foundation (NSF) grant was initially turned down in 2003, Dr. Adamo-Villani and Dr. Wilbur have continued to collaborate with each other while pursuing this research topic. They received a Purdue School of Technology I3 grant in April 2003 for the amount of $30,000 to continue their research, and resubmitted their grant proposal to the NSF in mid-February 2006. A patent for their animated rabbit research efforts entitled "Blending and Interactive Animation Method for Sign Language," was filed in September 2005. Dr. Gerardo Beni, a colleague of Dr. Adamo-Villani's within Electrical Engineering at the University of California-Riverside, also assisted in their research.

Staff: David M. Schwarte

David M. Schwarte is the Assistive Technology Specialist in the Assistive Technology Center (ATC), formerly Adaptive Learning Programs (ALPS) Lab. As the assistive technology specialist, Mr. Schwarte has aided numerous Purdue University students and employees who have disabilities by training them how to use assistive technology and software and by addressing their adaptive technology issues. Mr. Schwarte has also been an important resource for employees and students outside of his immediate responsibilities in the ATC. Mr. Schwarte will frequently intersect with the Testing Center when an individual with a disability requires assistive technology to take a test. He has also transported equipment and assistive technology to areas where it was needed to ensure equal access to people with disabilities. Mr. Schwarte also serves on a number of committees. He is a member of the Web Accessibility Committee, formerly Purdue Universal Access Initiative committee on the West Lafayette campus, which gives presentations regarding web accessibility for people with disabilities.  He also serves on the ADA, People and Technology committee which addresses Americans with Disabilities Act and access concerns on campus.

Student: Nicolas B. Widman

Nicolas (Nick) B. Widman, was a senior studying Computer Science and Math when he received the Focus Award. He earned his undergraduate degree in Purdue’s honors Computer Science and Math curriculum.  During the 2005-2006 academic school year, Mr. Widman was the Floor Senator in his residence hall, acting as the liaison between the floor residents, the residence hall staff, and the residence hall government. He was also asked by the Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, Associate Dean at the time, Heather Stout, to be the student representative on the Advisory Council on Disability Issues, and accepted the invitation. This committee explores issues that prevent students with disabilities from having equal access to the University in any way, ensures academic integrity, and discusses concerns professors have regarding students with disabilities. He was also a member of the Purdue Advocates for Disability Issues panel during the Disability Awareness Month activities for March of 2005. Mr. Widman worked hard while here at Purdue, and was recognized for his skills and abilities. In the summer of 2005, Mr. Widman had an internship with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington, D.C. He also received both the Microsoft Scholarship Award for $5,000 dollars and the Cisco Systems Scholarship. Mr. Widman has stated, "I am aware that my Asperger's Syndrome causes me to have a relative weakness in my ability to understand complex interpersonal relationships and social cues." He has many positive assets which far outweigh his stated limitations. Mr. Widman was accepted into the University of California-Los Angeles computer science doctoral program, which is quite an accomplishment considering most of the students accepted into this program have had to also earn a master's degree.

Organization: Best Buddies

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships with other people in the community. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1200 middle school, high school, and college campuses across the country and internationally. This organization does a wonderful job of bringing friendship into the lives of individuals who have limited opportunities to experience friendship. At the same time, the students participating in Best Buddies learn about leadership and community service, and realize they can have a role as future employees and leaders in their community. The chapter at Purdue has worked very hard from its inception to provide as many opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities as possible. They truly understand the importance of the program and the work they are doing. It is this dedication that earned them Chapter of the Year honors. Several of the students return year after year to participate with their "Best Buddy." As a result, stronger friendships are formed, which provides consistency and continuity to the lives of the people with intellectual disabilities. Our community is very fortunate to have the Best Buddies chapter at Purdue University. Through respect, laughter, love, understanding, and honesty, they are truly changing lives one friendship at a time.

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2005

Faculty: Dr. Robert B. Jacko

Dr. Robert B. Jacko is a Professor of Civil Engineering. He has researched methods in which to make crosswalks more pedestrian friendly to people with visual impairments, as well as the entire community in general. These new crosswalk signals will have both audio and visual cues. Dr. Jacko's research was funded by The Indiana Department of Transportation. He has an interest in this area due to the fact that his wife's vision has degenerated over time. In addition to his research, Dr. Jacko has also taught a senior design class in which the class examined ways in which to make Mackey Arena more accessible.

Staff: Owen J. Cooks

Mr. Owen J. Cooks was the Director of Project Management in Physical Facilities when he received the Focus Award. Mr. Cooks always went above and beyond what was required to ensure that Purdue adhered to the ADA accessibility guidelines when renovating existing buildings or creating new ones. It is what Mr. Cooks did outside of his required responsibilities that made him so deserving of this award. For example, when the Spring Fling Fitness Walk committee needed to make the fixed route accessible, Mr. Cooks was always willing, at a moment's notice, to bring in a portable ramp or build a temporary curb cut along the route for accessibility. Mr. Cooks also worked with a group of engineering students to create a fully adjustable chair and table that would fit into a specified area without drawing attention to a student's disability. Mr. Cooks also assisted a Purdue staff member with a mobility impairment with the construction of an accessible house, and helped another staff member install a large screen monitor in his/her office. Payment was typically a soda from the McDonald's drive through.

Student: Chelsea R. Mathews

Ms. Chelsea R. Mathews was the president of Purdue Advocates for Disability Issues (PADI) from August 2004 until May 2005. She had been an active member in PADI while enrolled at Purdue. She participated in presentations PADI gave to classes about disability issues and was a member of the PADI panel at previous Disability Awareness Month activities. She is described as being witty and having an outgoing personality. Ms. Mathews is comfortable with her disability and does not attempt to hide it. For example, she chooses bright colors for her hearing aid molds. She is also open to learning about others experiences with disabilities. Along with PADI, Ms. Mathews was also active in her sorority and in the American Sign Language Club.

Organization: American Sign Language Club

The American Sign Language (ASL) Club, which was led by ASL Club President Aimee Smith during the 2004-2005 academic school year, has been active around campus and in the community. The club is open to anybody interested in learning about the deaf community. The club has formal and informal meetings that alternate each week. At these meetings, people get to learn new signs and practice signing through fun and educational games. Events which are of possible interest to people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or others who are interested in the deaf community are also discussed at the meetings. For example, one event the ASL Club hosted in February 2005 was a guest speaker. This guest speaker, Keith Wann, who is a child of deaf parents, came to Purdue to talk to the community about what it is like to be a child of two deaf parents. Through the ASL Club's publicity, high school students, people who are a part of or are interested in the deaf community, and students from other colleges, such as Ball State University, attended the event. The ASL Club also plans events for Deaf Awareness Week, which occurs during the first full week of April. During April of 2005, they taught ASL basics at local schools, informed the public about technology and devices people who are deaf use, and hosted a silent dinner. Members of the ASL Club have also volunteered to be counselors at the Indiana Deaf Camp.

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2004

Faculty: Dr. James D. McGlothlin

Dr. James D. McGlothlin is an Associate Professor of Industrial Hygiene and Ergonomics in the School of Health Sciences. He specializes in research in ergonomics and industrial hygiene engineering controls. Dr. McGlothlin was the driving force behind a video wheelchair project that identified many accessibility issues on campus. He stated that improving accessibility requires teaching, teamwork, and technology. His team added wireless transmission of video and biosensory data from a wheelchair, which the team demonstrated at the 2004 Focus Award reception with the help of Scott Kempf, a previous year's Focus Award winner. Dr. McGlothlin's research was funded in part by the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which assists people who are paralyzed.

Staff: Paula J. (Micka) Pugh

Mrs. Paula J. Pugh, formerly Paula J. Micka, is the former Assistant Dean in Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, within the Office of the Dean of Students. During her tenure at Purdue, Mrs. Pugh had a major role in the production of Removing Barriers. This booklet provided the faculty with guidelines for teaching students with disabilities. The main focus was to provide students with access to programs, services, and activities while they attend Purdue University. Mrs. Pugh also redesigned the instructor letters, highlighting the responsibilities of the instructor, the student, and the Office of the Dean of Students. Mrs. Pugh presented numerous workshops around campus to make staff aware of the need for accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Mrs. Pugh was active on many disability-related committees, including ADA People and Technology, Advisory Council on Disability Issues, Housing Accommodations Committee, and Parking Accessibility Review Committee.

Student: Kathleen Kisselburgh

Ms. Kathleen Kisselburgh attended Purdue as a returning adult student with a lifelong hearing impairment. She was accompanied on campus by her companion dog, Whisper. Ms. Kisselburgh was recognized as being an active participant in her classes who provided challenging, real-life examples in class that clarified discussion sessions, helping her classmates more clearly understand abstract ideas. Ms. Kisselburgh was engaged with the surrounding community. Since 1999, she was an active member of "Caring Paws," an off-campus volunteer group that brought animal assistants into therapeutic settings for children and adults with physical, emotional, and psychological disabilities. She established a program at the Wabash Center for Adults in which pet partner teams, certified by a national organization, the Delta Society, worked with therapists to bring animal assistance into sessions with disabled clients. Ms. Kisselburgh and Whisper made regular visits to Wabash Valley Hospital to provide social interaction through pet partner work. In addition, Ms. Kisselburgh was involved with Canine Companions for Independence, Paws with a Cause, and the Greater Lafayette Disabilities Coalition. Tragically, Ms. Kisselburgh and Whisper were severely injured in an automobile accident in August 2003. She died several days following the accident. Whisper was returned to her trainer in Michigan.

Organization: Tactile Access to Education for Visually Impaired Students (TAEVIS)

Tactile Access to Education for Visually Impaired Students (TAEVIS) was established at Purdue University in 1996 to provide Braille materials in two chemistry classes for students who are blind. TAEVIS employees used computer graphics, special paper, and a heat system to produce tactile drawings similar to print illustrations, which is very useful in the fields of math, engineering, and science. In the absence of official standards for Braille diagrams, TAEVIS illustrators developed and refined a set of internal standards with an emphasis on reserving the scientific integrity of technical drawings. These standards, documented in the TAEVIS Tactile Diagram Manual, have earned widespread recognition and are being used by members of the National Braille Association. In 2007, TAEVIS and Adaptive Programs merged to become the Disability Resource Center. The Disability Resource Center is nationally recognized for its expertise in document conversion and has won attention for their uses of Braille and specifically developed tactile diagrams. It utilizes a variety of alternative formats to provide academic accommodations to students who are blind, visually impaired, or have other print disabilities. Innovative applications for tactile diagrams, technical Braille, and electronic text are opening new opportunities in math, engineering, and science.

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2003

Faculty: Dr. F. David Schoorman

Dr. F. David Schoorman was a Professor of Management when he received the Focus Award. He taught in the areas of Organizational Behavior, Organization Theory, and Human Resource Management. His knowledge of applied psychology within these areas had been beneficial while he served on the campus Advisory Council on Disability Issues since it was created in 1993. Dr. Schoorman appeared to be at ease identifying and discussing access issues. For example, when the management building was in its planning stages, he asked why the wheelchair spaces were always at the front of the room. He felt that wheelchair users should have the choice and opportunity to sit in the back of the room like non-wheelchair users. He jokingly pointed out that all students should have the opportunity to fall asleep in class, which is difficult to do when sitting in the front row all the time! Dr. Schoorman also viewed his role as a faculty member as an opportunity to educate faculty on disability issues and to facilitate information to his colleagues. He was quick to state that his commitment to educate his colleagues and the Purdue community was not because it is the law, but rather because it is the right thing to do.

Staff: Timothy J. Nordland

Mr. Timothy J. Nordland was the webmaster for the School of Veterinary Medicine when he received the Focus Award. He has brought knowledge and skill to the task of making Purdue's web sites compliant with standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Mr. Nordland worked very hard, both individually and as part of the Purdue Universal Access Initiative (PUAI), now known has Web Accessibility Committee, to educate the Purdue community on its legal and ethical obligations of providing accessible websites. Prior to joining PUAI in the year 2000, he provided consultation and conducted educational workshops to various departments on campus, such as the Athletics Department, the Colleges of Science and Liberal Arts, and many others. In fact, Mr. Nordland developed one of the first accessible distance education web courses for the Veterinary Technology Program. Upon joining PUAI, he provided the technical "How-to," a much needed addition to the legal, educational, and adaptive technologies aspects of the workshops. Mr. Nordland also advised the Grand Prix Committee. Several years ago, a prospective driver, who happened to be an amputee, applied to drive in the race. Knowing that this concern could be a potential issue due to the stringent safety rules and regulations, Mr. Nordland contacted Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, for information and assistance. Due to his intervention and advocacy, the possible safety concerns never became an issue.

Student: Scott R. Kempf

Mr. Scott R. Kempf was a senior from Indianapolis in Organizational Leadership and Supervision when he received the Focus Award. During his freshman year, Mr. Kempf began experiencing dizzy spells, which eventually led to the diagnosis of a brain stem tumor. After two surgeries and over 20 radiation treatments, the brain tumor was successfully removed. However, a few limitations occurred as a result of the surgery. Mr. Kempf has impaired vision and decreased coordination in both his upper and lower extremities. He used a motorized scooter to get around campus and utilized adaptive technology to perform some tasks. Mr. Kempf remained optimistic and chose to educate others about his disability in several ways. He was a member of Purdue Advocates for Disability Issues. He also helped educate the campus through participating in Dr. James D. McGlothlin's research project in which a video recorder was mounted to his scooter to reveal accessibility concerns around campus.

Organization: Tomahawk

Tomahawk is a coeducational service and leadership honorary organization at Purdue University. The goal of Tomahawk is to further develop student’s leadership abilities, as well as broaden the scope of each member through pledge ship and organizational activities. As a service organization, Tomahawk performs over 30 service projects each semester. This organization received the Focus Award for its diligence in helping students with disabilities, especially those individuals with visual impairments; learn how to get to classrooms and other campus locations. The organization has worked with Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, in this way for eight years.

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2002

Faculty: Dr. William E. Field

Dr. William E. Field answered a phone call from a farmer with paraplegia in 1979 that would permanently change Purdue University. The farmer had a simple request: he wanted to get back on his tractor and farm again. Dr. Field, Purdue's Extension Safety Specialist at the time, having no prior background in disability-related work or adaptive technology, took several agricultural engineering students to visit the farmer and see if they could assist the farmer in reaching his goal. From this contact, the program that would become Breaking New Ground (BNG) began. Under Dr. Field's leadership, Breaking New Ground has served farmers and ranchers with disabilities throughout Indiana, the nation, and even other countries. BNG has responded to over 10,000 calls for assistance over their toll-free help-line, and has produced more than 50 resources designed to assist not only agricultural workers, but also rural businesses, Extension offices, youth organizations like 4-H and FFA, and the caregivers of individuals with disabilities. The BNG program was used as a model for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's AgrAbility Program that was launched as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. BNG has also earned numerous national, state, and university awards for program accomplishments. Dr. Field has won a number of individual honors as well, including the 2000 Hovde Award, the USDA Superior Service Award, and Purdue University's Cooperative Extension Association's Junior and Senior Specialist Awards. Dr. Field has also brought Therapy, Health, and Education through Children and Horses as Partners, a therapeutic horseback riding program for children with disabilities, under the BNG umbrella.

Staff: Betty M. Nelson

Ms. Betty M. Nelson has had a tremendous and long-lasting positive impact on accessibility at Purdue University. In the mid-1970's, she was a staff member in the Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS). She worked with student organizations on campus to raise money to have curb cuts installed for wheelchair users. Ms. Nelson also worked with students who needed accommodations. In time, Ms. Nelson held the position of Dean of Students. As the Dean of Students, she created two new specialist positions within Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, to better serve the needs of students with disabilities. Ms. Nelson became even more proactive in disability issues once the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990. She was appointed to the University's Steering Committee. Ms. Nelson also founded and chaired the Advisory Council on Disability Issues, which is a faculty and student advisory group, to spread information and raise awareness of disability issues in the classroom. She fostered an atmosphere in ODOS and at Purdue that accepted people with disabilities as people first. Ms. Nelson was also a charter member of the Association for Handicapped Student Service Programs in Post-Secondary Education (which later became the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)) and the founder of the Indiana Higher Education Committee on Disabled Students (which later became Indiana AHEAD). She also participated on the Indiana Rehabilitation Services Area V Advisory Committee and the Governor's Task Force on the Employment of the Handicapped.

Student: Adam J. Rodenbeck and Hamlet

Mr. Adam J. Rodenbeck and his service dog Hamlet were Focus Award recipients while he lived at Wiley Hall during the 2001-2002 academic year. Many of the people living and working in the residence hall stated that they learned a great deal from their interactions with Mr. Rodenbeck and Hamlet. Many people stated that Mr. Rodenbeck, who is blind, approaches life with great confidence and impresses everyone with his independence. He was involved in many activities which occurred on campus. Mr. Rodenbeck educated the Purdue community by being willing to share his experiences with both students and university employees. He participated in various Boiler Gold Rush activities. Mr. Rodenbeck also joined the Wiley Hall radio station as a disc jockey. Another student, who was also a disc jockey at the radio station, was impressed at the fact that Mr. Rodenbeck was more familiar with the equipment after a few months than he was after four years.

Organization: Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)

Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), which was founded in Purdue University's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the fall of 1995, is an innovative program at the University that creates partnerships between teams of undergraduate students and local community not-for-profit organizations to solve engineering-based problems in the community. This partnership provides many benefits to the students and the community alike by fulfilling the complementary needs of engineering undergraduates and acting as a community service organization. EPICS at Purdue grew from five teams and forty students in fall 1995 to twenty-four teams and three hundred fifty students in fall 2001. EPICS worked on three different projects related to assisting Purdue students with disabilities during the 2001-2002 academic year. The three projects involved creating an adjustable table, an adjustable chair, and an interactive campus map. The students involved in the campus map project were awarded a $5,000 grant from the Christopher Reeve Foundation to conduct their research and create the map. Because of EPICS popularity and benefit to the surrounding community, programs have also been started at other institutions, such as Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Georgia Tech.

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2001

Faculty: Dr. Fred E. Lytle

Dr. Fred E. Lytle was a Chemistry Professor at Purdue when he received the Focus Award.  In the fall of 1994, he was presented with the problem of converting complicated scientific material into Braille in order to assist students with visual impairments in pursuit of their academic goals. He undertook this task with no experience with Braille. He worked on his own time to develop a systematic way to convert chemical equations, symbols, and formulas into a standard six-dot Braille. The new symbols were combined with current Braille symbols to develop a software program to translate equations into Braille. The software program is used to translate course materials in subjects including chemistry, biology, mathematics, and psychology. It is also being used at high schools and colleges nationwide.

Staff: Kenneth P. Burns

Mr. Kenneth Burns was instrumental in providing administrative and executive level support in initiating Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance efforts at Purdue University. During his tenure as Vice President for Physical Facilities, he served as chair of Purdue University's ADA Steering Committee and oversaw the initial implementation of the law. This committee was instrumental in providing guidance with regard to evaluating the University's needs and developing a plan for implementation.

Student: Allyson Matt and Cooper

Ms. Allyson Matt and her service dog Cooper were involved in many efforts to raise disability awareness on campus and within the Greater Lafayette community. Ms. Matt was an active member of Purdue Advocates for Disability Issues, a student group, and she was a student member on the Advisory Council for Disability Issues. She and Cooper co-presented in many of Adaptive Programs, now known as the Disability Resource Center, presentations and talked about blindness to first grade students at Earhart Elementary School. Ms. Matt and Cooper lived in the residence halls on campus while she attended Purdue as an undergraduate student.

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This information was last updated in the fall of 2011.  Please contact the Office of Institutional Equity at equity@purdue.edu with any corrections.