HomepageOffice of Disability and AccessUrsinus Staff Present at UPenn Disability Symposium

Ursinus Staff Present at UPenn Disability Symposium

Staff members Angela Upright and Joanna Timmerman represented Ursinus at the University of Pennsylvania on March 8th, delivering a dynamic presentation about the collaboration between the Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility, and Engagement (UCARE) and the Office of Disability and Access (ODA).

For the second year in a row, Disability and Access staff member Joanna Timmerman was honored to be one of the few presentations selected for the 22nd Annual Weingarten Center Disability Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania. This year, she was joined by associate director of UCARE Angela Upright. Bright and early on Friday the 8th, the two ventured into Philadelphia for the event.

This year’s theme was “Shared Responsibility and Collaborative Partnerships,” and the presenters and attendees were tasked with uncovering campus collaborations to improve accessibility at their institutions. It was a great theme for us at Ursinus, where collaboration and community are the name of the game.

After a riveting keynote from Dr. Mark Wolff, who spoke of health disparities for people with disabilities through the lens of dentistry and oral healthcare, Upright and Timmerman headed to a workshop about student engagement in assistive technology services from Jordan Colbert, an amazing professional from Yale University. The two came away with concrete and attainable ideas on how to scale Colbert’s “SWAT team” to Ursinus’ smaller student body.

The symposium had too many great options to pick from, including presentations on college readiness for students with disabilities, fostering a sense of belonging through collaboration with DEIJ offices, navigating complex housing accommodations with residence life staff, and increasing student advocacy for disability justice. Upright and Timmerman attended a session on engaging students who may not identify as disabled, and the presenter, Emmett Binkowski from UPenn, walked the participants through recent research about the integration of disability into identity and its impact on student success outcomes.

Finally, after a panel of campus collaborators (including deans, academic advisors, and faculty members) who shared their commitment to professional development in accessibility, the Ursinus team was on stage in the Hall of Flags. While UCARE and ODA are no longer in the same division, the impetus for their innovative collaboration falls under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Heather Lobban-Viravong, whose vision for inclusion at the college leans heavily on the symposium’s theme of shared responsibility.

Upright and Timmerman spoke about how UCARE, with support from ODA, has taken on the responsibility of making sure service sites and opportunities are as accessible as possible to students with disabilities. Their presentation is available on our webpage. The attendees were clearly engaged and looking for support in developing similar relationships at their own institutions. With service outcomes like those seen in UCARE, it’s clear that Upright is shouldering the shared responsibility of accessibility not only effectively, but with so much care for the students and communities she serves in her work.

Overall, the symposium was a great opportunity for learning, sharing, and connecting with other professionals dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable world in higher education. Upright and Timmerman were delighted to be considered catalysts of innovative work happening in the field and cannot wait to continue their work together.

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