On April 13, 2012, a group of 75 people representing all levels of the University, in addition to representatives from two other universities, came together to find a unifying direction for Inclusion and Accessibility at Ohio University and to begin an ongoing planning process that would translate that direction into reality. It was a day of dreaming big dreams for a more inclusive and accessible community purposed to welcome all abilities. And, at the conclusion of the gathering, at approximately 4 p.m.
I was approached last month to contribute to WOUB’s Blog “The Journey ~ Embracing Inclusion.” My first thought was “Where to start?” As Mayor and public servant my duty is to assist all residents of the city in providing the means to live, work and play in our beautiful City of Athens.
If you are “able-bodied” or without impairments, how would you like to roll a mile or for a while in my wheel chair? Wear a blind fold to perform regular routines? Use plugs to deafen or eliminate sounds in your ears? Hear sounds in your head that others do not hear? Endure “invisible” disabilities which are called into question because you do not use a cane, walker, or a wheel chair? You would quickly learn, as I have, the difficulties of negotiating when there are barriers – whether to structures, programs, technology, or services.
Ohio University prides itself on our inclusive, supportive atmosphere. Today, through the launch of “The Journey ~ Embracing Inclusion” blog, we hope to further our commitment to fostering a welcoming community for all. Utilizing the web and social media, this blog will allow the thoughts, ideas, stories and journeys of people concerned about inclusion and disabilities to be shared across the globe.