2023 Focus Award Recipient - Organization

Disability Access Center - Purdue Fort Wayne

We are pleased to present the Purdue Fort Wayne’s Disability Access Center with a 2023 Focus Award for an organization, for its efforts in removing barriers for students on campus.  During the 2021-22 academic year, the Disability Access Center served over 500 students and provided support for the over 1000 courses with accommodations. In describing how the DAC provides support for students, one nominator stated that the Disability Access Center could also be known as the Disability Awareness Center, noting that the DAC goes over and above in spreading awareness on campus. 

The Disability Access Center has endeavored to de-silo the work of providing equitable access for all PFW and IUFW students, including students with disabilities.  The Disability Access Center has partnered and built connections with the Fort Wayne and Indiana communities, including the AWS Foundation, the League, Deaflink, Turnstone, and many others.  Over $90,000 in community grants were awarded to identify and mitigate equity barriers on campus.  A grant from the AWS foundation and other campus and community partners led to significant structural changes in the Summer of 2022, including, but not limited to, new carpet and paint, access doors within the Center, universally designed furniture for the DAC Testing Center and DAC Office, new assistive technology, and a state-of-the-art security system to ensure DAC testing security and integrity, as well as a sensory space used by students with and without disabilities. 

Director Ryan McCombs and Assistant Director Maeghan Mier also designed and implemented the Disability Zone training program geared for faculty and staff, which provides an overview of frameworks for understanding disability status in the United States.  More than 75 faculty and staff have participated in the training, with more dates offered this spring.

For its relentless efforts to create greater inclusivity and accessibility, we are honored to present the Disability Access Center with this 2023 Focus Award.