Where To Begin?

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By Lacey Martin
When one wants to make a difference in their world, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin, how to develop a plan, and who can help you reach your goals. The work of inclusion is no different. Our world is in need of so much change, it can quickly become overwhelming. When I feel both excited and overwhelmed, I remember how it began for me. It was 1995 and I was 11.
I was born and raised in the Athens community. I attended the newly named Morrison-Gordon Elementary School as a child. Morrison-Gordon Elementary, in collaboration with Beacon School, a school that provides specialized educational services for children living with disabilities, created an exchange reading program in which I was a participant. Once a month, a group of students from Morrison-Gordon would cross the parking lot to Beacon to read aloud for a particular class. In return, the groups would work together on other art or reading projects. I was selected for the program because I heavily struggled reading aloud. I was terrified. I could hear the cracking in my voice. My heart would begin to race which was usually followed by severe perspiration and uncontrollable anxiety. After several months, I began to realize the Beacon students had little concern with my delivery. They were more interested in the magic of the story. I started to let that be my focus as I gained confidence in my presentation. Over time, both groups of students helped me overcome a great fear and I developed some amazing friendships in the process. Today, public speaking is one of my favorite classes to teach at the collegiate level. I extend my gratitude to those behind the programming and those who participated.  It was through the exchange program I not only learned how to overcome my fear, but to engage in meaningful work that encouraged collaboration, diversity, and togetherness. I had hoped to become engaged in this work throughout my life.
My name is Lacey Martin. I serve as Assistant to the CIO at Ohio University and I am an instructor for University College. I provide administrative support to our Interim CIO, Duane Starkey and Senior Associate Vice President for IT & Administrative Services, Joseph Lalley. Mr. Starkey and Mr. Lalley fully support my participation in PACDAP (Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning), as they too are dedicated to seeing this work move forward. I serve on two of PACDAP’s change teams, the Universal Design & Assistive Technology Change Team and the Communication Change Team as I see the work through an IT lens.
My involvement with PACDAP began shortly after I met Darrell Purdy, Associate Director of Employee Accommodations and Campus Accessibility at Ohio University. In a recent blog Mr. Purdy describes a day of dreaming big dreams, Vision Day. On April 13, 2012, a group of 75 people representing all levels of the University came together to begin a planning process to determine what the experience of inclusion and accessibility could and should look like at OHIO and the Athens community.
After attending Vision Day, former CIO, Brice Bible, recognized the importance of moving this work forward and challenged the Office of Information Technology to do their part. My role quickly evolved to co-chair and a planning committee was formed. This was my opportunity to engage in this meaningful work again. Members from the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Institutional Equity, and Disability services came together with a common goal, to spread awareness. Our vehicle would be a regionally-spanned awareness event. Over the next year, this committee worked diligently to locate key note and guest speakers, create brand identity, secure funding, provide accessible delivery, and invite guests. On March 27, 2013 Ohio University held Tech-Ability: Supporting Accessibility Through Information Technology. Guests ranged from those in higher education, K-12, and even the corporate sphere. The event was considered a vast success. After Tech-Ability, PACDAP members realized the importance and the necessary actions needed to host an event that was truly considered accessible. Now, the Ohio University community has access to an Accessible Event Tool Kit, created by a committee lead by PACDAP member, Paige Stratton.
With the creation of a strategic plan, transformational leadership seminars, developing and executing accessible events, and assessment and communication efforts, PACDAP’s contributions to the Ohio University community are picking up noticeable traction. If you are interested in the work of inclusion, you don’t necessarily have to answer to the daunting question, “Where do I begin?” Go back to the basics and think about why the work is important to you. Perhaps you or a loved one would benefit from the work. Perhaps you had an experience as a child that calls you to action. Whatever the reason, I encourage you to share your story as our journey continues. So, if you don’t know where to begin, know this train has already taken off and all you have to do is jump on board!
To learn more about the work of inclusion and accessibility at Ohio University contact the Office for Institutional Equity at 740.593.9132.