Week 03 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Week 03 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Lab Assignment + Reflection

I observed a couple of strategies and services that DRES uses to address barriers of representation for people with disabilities today. As I watched the tour, I observed that the DRES facility has a lot to offer such as scholarships, social groups for interaction, and academic coaching for organizational skills. These all benefit the students because the scholarships will allow them to have a chance to get an education, the social groups will better the students with interacting with other students, and the academic coaching will ensure that the student is prepared and organized for a good education. The DRES building and physical designs emphasize how it was made possible for these students. DRES offered first fixed-route busses that were designed with wheelchair lifts. There was also a gym with enhanced equipment to make sure the students are doing the proper physical exercise. There were also elevators designed for wheelchair students who couldn’t reach the normal buttons, so they innovated a way to lower the buttons and allow students in wheelchairs to kick the button if they need to. The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is an example of one of the interdisciplinary partnerships that DRES collaborated with because it started with Tim Nugent organizing the first tournament which led to the foundation of the NWBA. It stood out to me and played a big role in inspiring women with disabilities to be able to participate as well.

3 Photos:

3 Memorable Quotes:

“Our diversity is our strength-DRES students represent the entire spectrum of psychological and neurodiversity.”

“Success never rests. On your worst days, be good. On your best days, be great. And on every other day, get better.”

“I don’t need easy. I just need possible.”

I think that two challenges DRES will face in the future is funding and facilities that introduce a similar strategy like DRES (prosthetics for example).

Reading Response

The authors in this week’s readings display how a campus can be diversified successfully and the steps that need to be taken. I believe these authors have made a similar impact to the DRES facility by making all types of students with different backgrounds comfortable, especially at the University of Illinois. With federal financial support and pressure to adopt affirmative action plans, universities began to develop affirmative action programs. To disrupt barriers to push for innovations in inclusion and diversity, Williamson demonstrated how “The initiation of SEOP boosted Black student confidence in the administration, though the students remained wary of procedures for recruitment and program development” (Williamson 57). The SEOP program promoted diversity, and against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Illinois began discussing how to increase the number of black students at the University. Additionally, the imbalance of minority student enrollment because of discrimination had to be fixed, and the SEOP committee made sure the university would take measures to end discrimination. Williamson and I would argue that these innovations furthered inclusion and diversity on campus today

In the summer of 1965, “Illinois inaugurated an experimental program both to promote equal educational opportunity and to investigate the academic needs of students, particularly Black students, from disadvantaged high schools” (Williamson 62). The school recognized that even though they met university admission requirements, they will encounter academic difficulties because of their old environments. This strategy helped shape the way African Americans were treated and intensified diversity on campus today.

A strategy to further diversify the campus was La Casa Cultura. The purpose of this was to include bilingual students who descended from Latino families who were either citizens in the United States or immigrants from Latin America. “La Casa Cultura Latina opened its doors in 1974 and set out to provide a home for Latino students and to spread awareness of Latino cultures across the campus” (Hoxie 221). I believe this was a great strategy, but there were still problems with funding, and was forced to rely on one doctoral student after it was created. Renewed student activism seemed to be the only tactic that would produce results.

Lab Reflection + Reading Response – Week 3

The tour was quite memorable, it was fascinating to see the innovations and measures that DRES has taken to make the lives of the disabled students on campus easier. A few of the interesting features in the facilities that stood out to me were, when the speaker mentioned the availability of Personal Assistants and disabled friendly services for smoother commute for the students. That seemed like a very convenient service to have. Another one was the Elevators were specially designed to be made disabled friendly and were a little larger and different than the regular elevators. All the spaces in the building were constructed keeping wheelchairs in mind, with very few stairs, and all the spaces having elevator connections or slopes so that wheelchairs could easily be transported. Another thing that stood out for me was how they had several spare wheelchairs in a room, which felt like a great service to have.

Out of all the collaborations with Microsoft, and other organizations, the one collaboration that stood out for me was the one with the Olympics. It was interesting and prideworthy to be told that most of the members in the Paralympics team came from UIUC, and it was fascinating to understand DRES had a huge role to play in it. The partnership of DRES with the USA Special Olympics Team is a very noble venture that provides disabled people a great platform for representation in the world of sports, it also brings DRES a lot of international exposure.

I have attached pictures I found of DRES. I did not realize we had to screenshot during the zoom meeting.

Shows facilities in Beckwith hall, and the Personal Assistant Services from DRES.

Shows the sports wheelchairs that are used by the students while playing the various sports.

Quotes that got the Spotlight:

  1. “We have extensive collaborations and partnerships with the United States Special Olympics Team, a lot of the members of the team are from University of Illinois.”
  2. “We have DRES alum working at companies like Microsoft, DRES helped me in achieving this goal.”
  3. “This innovation garage, has a lot of interesting stuff to foster innovation”

There are a few issues that DRES still needs to address, and seem to be the major barriers for the organization:

  1. Funding – the organization requires more funding to achieve its goals at scale.
  2. Stigma – DRES still must fight some stigma that revolves around disabled people and what they are capable of. This issue can be fought only by further educating the people about the achievements.

Reading Response

There were quite a few strategies that were employed to increase diversity and inclusion within the university. A few good examples would be organisations demanding the increased employment of black people. “In the wake of Project 500’s tumultuous launch, the BSA demanded that the university hire more black professors, establish a black cultural center, and organize an African American studies program.” (220) This helped in increasing diversity and a more inclusive culture within the university.

Other strategies that were put into place included – This included an organization taking a stance for the Latino student population at the university, “La Casa sought to expand the definition of “minority” to include bilingual students who descended from Latino families who were either citizens in the United States or immigrants from Latin America. Like the BSA, Colectiva brought attention to the severe under representation of Latino students and faculty on campus and demanded that the university develop a recruitment initiative to remedy the situation.” This shed light into the demands and talked about how latinos also deserved an equal representation at the University. (221) Following on the footsteps of BSA and La Casa, “While seeking the establishment of a cultural center, Asian American student activists also called for the establishment of an academic program. Courses in Asian American studies appeared in the early 1990s, but it was not until 1997 that the Asian American Studies Committee was organized” (222) This brought to the attention of the University authorities for the need of Asian coursework, and representation in the University. All of these examples were fighting for the same cause, an equal and fair representation and opportunities in the University.

These organisations, made great progress and impact. For La Casa, after several rounds of protests – The board of trustees soon approved the establishment of a Latino Studies Program, with Rafael Nunez-Cedeno, a professor of Spanish originally from the Dominican Republic, serving as the acting director. Over the next two decades, the program expanded its course offerings, developed an undergraduate minor in 1997. Similarly, BSA achieved great success as well.

Overall, although great progress has been made over the years, the fight for equal representation is not over yet, there needs to be further research to find out the groups that are still left out and to give them representation in the University. More strategies need to be employed to bring forward a more inclusive and discrimination free environment.

Week 03 – Lab + Reading Response


Over the course of over 70 years, the history of the University of Illinois has been marked by many “firsts” in the field of education and accommodations for those with disabilities. Originally, disability accommodations at the University were formed to serve those with physical disabilities due to war injuries, but they have since grown to include those with congenital physical disabilities as well as psychiatric disabilities and everything in between. Today, it is evident through the physical building of the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) division that it was built with the needs of those with physical mobility issues in mind; the DRES building is one story tall and has elevators with touch-pads to motion up or down located just above the ground. Even though the University and State of Illinois were initially against the public funding of DRES, having a physical building for their division has since created a safe environment for students with disabilities to access needed resources. Additionally, students with disabilities needed more accessible housing and around-the-clock care, and Beckwith Hall opened in 1981 as part of DRES. In 2010, Beckwith Residential Support Services relocated to the newly constructed Nugent Hall, as a part of housing now–thus increasing visibility to the rest of campus and access to the Ikenberry housing resources as well.

Students with wheelchairs in front of Beckwith Hall, 1982.

Nowadays, DRES offers a wide array of services, which we learned about from Maureen Gilbert, DRES’ Campus Life Coordinator. DRES Students have access to exclusive social workers, psychologists, career services, note-taking services, and proctored testing facilities in order to ensure they can get the support to succeed inside of the classroom and beyond it. As Maureen said, for example, it is especially crucial nowadays for DRES students to get note-taking services, because the virtual format of most classes nowadays has caused added stress to education for many students. At the same time, the building itself highlights the accomplishments and stories of many current and former DRES students from their student life experiences studying abroad or having romantic relationships to their career achievements after college. These experiences do not come easy, but accommodations, such as having the first wheelchair power lifts on buses, have helped DRES students experience UIUC campus life to its fullest. As Maureen pointed out, the MTD does indeed have wheelchair accessibility, but DRES continuing to have charter busses for their students is beneficial to help them get around during busy times between classes. It can be hard enough for any student in general to get a spot on a crowded bus, but for DRES students, it is naturally even harder. Maureen also highlighted the story of a former student with autism majoring in CS + Linguistics whose dream was to work for Microsoft, and eventually with the help of DRES career services and a corporate partnership with Microsoft, he was able to do so. Additionally, with Microsoft and other tech companies, DRES is working to help pioneer the field of web content accessibility for those with disabilities.

Wheelchair power-lift on bus, date unknown.

In terms of athletics, DRES supports dozens of paralympic and international athletes, especially in the sports of wheelchair racing and wheelchair basketball. Partnerships with the athletic department, for example, let athletes race and practice in the same spaces and alongside non-wheelchair athletes. This increased visibility and normalization was also seen in the Olympics in the 1990s where wheelchair racing was featured as a sport in order to increase popularity and awareness of wheelchair sports in the international arena. At the same time, members of DRES work alongside researchers and athletic companies to innovate technologies and tools to make athletes faster — including 3D printing for wheelchair racing gloves. Not only do these gloves go toward their students but they also go toward young athletes interested in participating in sports like their peers.

Timeline from 1988-2008 of highlighted UIUC Paralympic-medalling athletes.

As DRES grows in reach and magnitude at the University of Illinois, it meets challenges in funding and general accessibility practices. DRES itself hopes to expand its sports facilities, but their proposed new athletic facility will cost an estimated $245 million and has no current funding pipeline. While the University has publicly acknowledged said development, it remains a pipe dream for now. As well, while the ADA is celebrating its 30th anniversary, there are still a lot of architectural advancements, such as the elevator button that DRES features, that would make the lives of those with physical disabilities easier, but they are yet to be mandated across the board. Additionally, web content accessibility remains a large pain point but many websites remain not fully accessible to those with vision impairments or screen readers. In challenges such as these, DRES’ partnerships with policy-makers, donors, and corporate sponsors proves crucial in making changes benefitting accessibility beyond just the UIUC campus.

Reading Response

In general, I think that these authors would agree that these innovations furthered inclusion and diversity on campuses. Through the creation of cultural houses on Nevada Street, the University leaned into the demands of various ethnic groups’ need to have visibility and learn about their culture (Hoxie and Hughes 219). These buildings provided safe spaces and personalized programming for minority groups, and in doing so, generations of minority students have felt supported while on campus — as merely accepting is not enough to do justice. For Black students specifically, the advent of the Afro-American Cultural Center in 1969 provided workshops on writing, dance, and gender roles among other topics (Williamson 82). By being able to participate in African American culture and heritage, Black students specifically could feel supported and have a sense of community with their Black peers. Through the creation of the Special Educational Opportunities Program, the University sought to aggressively increase enrollment of disadvantaged students, especially Blacks, to the ballpark of 500 students (Williamson 57). This program ultimately resulted in an increased socioeconomically and racially diverse student body, but there were many hurdles including acceptance and retention. All in all, the effects of these strategies lives on today, but there is still a long way to go in terms of racial justice on campus. The University under-accepts Black students, relative to the population of Illinois, across the board but especially in the high-paying fields of engineering. As well, departments and divisions supporting minority students are not funded at the same levels of certain colleges, such as Engineering or Business.

Week 03 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Lab Assignment

Through my observation at the DRES facility, I noticed a lot of strategies that I found interesting. For example, the elevator at the DRES facility are different from regular elevators. The buttons are made to be more accessible to students with disabilities. This emphasizes the relationship between the students with disabilities and the facilities ability to promote accessibility. Both the facility and the students need to communicate in order for the innovations to work. An example fo the interdisciplinary partnerships DRES has developed would be the USA Special Olympics team. This provides people with disabilities representation in the world of sports and the University of Illinois represents majority of the team in the United States. Their work with the Special Olympics helps them receive international recognition from governments. The last photo talks about the history of Beckwith Hall. It shows the development of the facility and the growth of the PA services. This service helps the students with disabilities receive first hand care from professionals.

  • Three photos:
  • Three Memorable Quotes:
    • “Even though I faced a lot of difficulties, DRES gave me the support and encouragement I needed to be able to graduate and get a job at Microsoft.”
    • “The presence of a problem is the absence of an idea.”
    • “Provide DRES students with the opportunity to study abroad.”

Overall, I believe the biggest challenge DRES faces in extending their story and impact is financial sustainability and funding. These are extremely difficult to receive from the government. A lot of these innovations require funding in order to fulfill the projects.

Reading Response

The first successful strategy used by African American students and the Black Students Association was called the 1968 Special Equal Opportunities Program. According to Frederick E Hoxie, “the BSA demanded that the university hire more black professors, establish a black cultural center, and organize an African American studies program” (220). This strategy helped to develop courses that embraced African American faculty members from social sciences, humanities, and fine arts (Hoxie 221). This was successful in promoting inclusion because it provided African American faculty members to connect with other African American members of the university. I would say BSA’s work is not complete yet because the group should continue to provide guidance and growth to African American students and their community. The next strategy was not as successful as the first one. According to Joy-Ann Williamson-Lott, “the SEOP participants were invited to arrive in Urbana-Champaign one week before other incoming students in the fall of 1968” (80). This strategy did not give the SEOP participants enough time to fulfill course placement tests and financial aid packages (Williamson-Lott 80). This was not successful because it did not prepare SEOP students with enough time to prepare for the academic year. The final strategy was as successful in helping the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. According to Williamson-Lott, “the Committee on Human Relations and Equal Opportunity proposed collecting racial data for all students, a suggestion that coincided with the 1964 Civil Rights Act…” (60). These figures emphasized the need for affirmative action and nondiscrimination policies (Williamson-Lott 60). This strategy successfully introduced the need for the University to push for nondiscriminatory policies. I believe there is more to complete because there should more strategies that prevent discrimination in student acceptance.