LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 13, 2021) — At the University of Kentucky, the Disability Resource Center (DRC), housed in the Office for Student Success, serves more than three thousand students each semester. A number the director, David Beach, believes is underestimated by many.
“They don’t realize how many students we actually have,” Beach said. “Anywhere a student with a disability needs access is where we are. We are in the classrooms. We assist with testing, and we assist with making sure parking areas are accessible. We ensure that students that have mobility issues have an accessible path or accessible opportunity to get to class, we also make sure classrooms are accommodating and accessible.”
The DRC fosters an inclusive campus climate through education, service, collaboration and outreach. Partnering with qualified students with a wide range of disabilities, the office works to make sure all eligible students receive the appropriate accommodations on campus.
At UK, we consider accessibility to be a community effort; it isn't something that just the DRC considers but is something that the whole campus plays a role in. And with the office's growing numbers, it must be. From faculty implementing accommodations in their classrooms, to campus services ensuring allergen information is available at campus eateries, together — and only together — can we make campus accessible to all.
Starting this November, the DRC is working with UKNow on a series titled “Many People, Creating One Accessible Community,” which focuses on raising awareness surrounding the DRC, accessibility and how each of us on campus plays a role in disability services.
This new series is a call to action. Over the coming weeks and months, UKNow will highlight different accessibility and disability issues and will give a step-by-step guide to readers on ways to ensure our campus is, as the title says, one accessible community.
“Reaching out to the community to understand accessibility, to understand empathy towards people with disabilities, equity, making sure that they see how their behavior could potentially impact those of others that are trying to get around in a community is what this series is about,” Beach said.
While UK is determined to continue building upon its missions of teaching, innovation, healing and service, we can only accomplish our goals when we take care of our people. Beach agrees with this sentiment.
“It is our responsibility not just to create an equitable environment, but to create the same environment of belonging that we seek for all of our students,” Beach said. “When you consider all student’s needs, you create an investment, then students begin to trust us more and feel like they belong at this university.”
On this episode of "Behind the Blue," Beach discusses the often unseen or unknown challenges students with disabilities face while accessing campus facilities, how students can access the resources of the DRC and what this new series means to the campus community as a whole.
"Behind the Blue" is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Become a subscriber to receive new episodes of “Behind the Blue” each week. UK’s latest medical breakthroughs, research, artists and writers will be featured, along with the most important news impacting the university.
For questions or comments about this or any other episode of "Behind the Blue," email BehindTheBlue@uky.edu or tweet your question with #BehindTheBlue. Transcripts for this or other episodes of "Behind the Blue" can be downloaded from the show’s blog page. You can watch a video version of this podcast here.
To follow along with the “Many People Creating One Accessible Community” series, search #OneUKforAll on UK’s Facebook and Twitter.For more information on the DRC, visit its website. To discover what’s wildly possible at the University of Kentucky, click here.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.