2005 Focus Award Recipients

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.