The Elon Community Accessibility Team will reinforce the commitment to an accessible and inclusive environment for all members of the Elon community.
The Elon Community Accessibility Team (ECAT) held its inaugural meeting on March 25. During the meeting, Chair Connie Ledoux Book delivered the terms of reference for the committee.
“This joint initiative responds to the demand to recognize the changing world we share and our responsibility to meet the needs of all members of our communities,” according to the team’s charter.
ECAT focuses on education and training, compliance and advocacy, and organizes three working groups that will meet regularly to plan and evaluate the committee’s goals in these areas. ECAT will not replace existing committees or units focused on access, inclusion and equity. Instead, the work is structured to promote communication and cooperation between multiple units within the university and the city.
The co-chairs of the committee are Prudence Layne, Associate Professor of English, Laké Laosebikan-Buggs, Director of Inclusive Excellence for Graduate and Professional Students, and Mary Kathryn Harward, Elon City Planner.
“We have a talented and dedicated group of Elon University employees and City of Elon partners ready to roll up their sleeves to ensure we improve equity and access for our residents and visitors. common,” Layne said.
With representation from city and university units that continue to be engaged in disability rights advocacy, the experience was evident at the ECAT meeting.
“I learned so much and you could tell there was so much experience in the room,” said Harward. “They’ve been doing this for years and know the importance of making a community livable. As a planner, that’s my goal, to make the community livable for everyone.
ECAT is the result of the “longstanding work of the Office of Disability Resources, which continues to ‘support a diverse population of students with disabilities,’ states the ECAT charter. Additionally, it builds on the work of the Elon University Academic Council for Advocated Disabled Faculty and the Employee Resource Group (ERG) Advocates for the Differently Capled (ADA).
Layne was a member of the Academic Council and needed accommodation. “I realized the institution hadn’t built adequate infrastructure for employees with disabilities,” Layne said, “So I started building it.”
Layne and his colleagues were successful in reinforcing the faculty handbook policy and guidelines to support employees with disabilities.
In 2018, the Academic Council and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) collaborated to educate and raise awareness about resources for people with disabilities and train those who interact with them.
Initially, Katie King, an associate professor of psychology, led a CATL-sponsored reading group. He progressed through the ADA ERG. The ERG coordinators are King, Layne and Tina Kissell, Assistant Director of Disability Resources.
“ERG elevated the contributions and needs of faculty and staff with disabilities,” according to the committee’s charter, which led to a new accessibility resources page for current and potential employees on the human resources website. from Elon University.
In 2019, the ERG led campus-community discussions throughout the year and demonstrated the need for increased institutional collaboration.
In March 2020, Elon City Manager Richard Roedner initiated the process of reassessing the city’s accessibility resources for residents, workers and visitors. That summer, the university announced the creation of the Division of Inclusive Excellence, which provided a framework for community access.
Previously, the work was focused on university services, but the ERG recognized the connection and the need for partnership. “President Book approved the creation of ECAT, which will connect key and strategic stakeholders from across the university and the city of Elon,” according to the ECAT charter.
“Now is the time for the ECAT initiative,” Layne said.
The public-private partnership is supported by the City of Elon’s strategic plan, which calls for strong partnerships and community engagement. The goal is to “maintain ongoing, positive and productive partnerships that recognize our interdependence and our shared responsibility for the future success of our community. And the work will contribute to the call for an unprecedented commitment to inclusive excellence in Boldly Elon, Elon University’s strategic plan for 2030.”
The members of the ECAT committee are:
- Prudence Layne, Associate Professor of English (co-chair)
- Mary Kathryn Harvard, City of Elon Planner (co-chair)
- Laké Laosebikan-Buggs, Director of Inclusive Excellence for Higher and Vocational Education (co-chair)
- Martin Baker, Senior Associate Athletics Coach
- TJ Bowie, Head of Equal Opportunity and Human Resources Compliance
- Tom Flood, Assistant Vice President of Physical Plant
- Robert Johnson, Director of Events and Space Management
- Susan Kirkland, Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration
- Tina Kissell, Associate Director of Disability Resources, ADA ERG Co-Chair
- Torii Masinsin, Associate Director of Admissions for Campus Visits
- Kelly Reimer, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies
- Nita Skillman, Director of Interprofessional Simulation
- Chase Solomon, Class of 2023 President and Student Inclusive Campus Committee Member
- Susan Wise, Director of Disability Resources
- Molly Zlock, Director of HR Compliance, Equal Opportunity and Title IX