Audio Conference Educates Campus

By Miesha Payne-Reid

The Disability Resource Center hosted an audio conference on
Thursday to educate the campus community about issues regarding
students with disabilities. The 90 minute presentation titled “A
Look at the Courts: seeking universal access and beyond” focused on
the legal rights of students with special needs. Simultaneously,
individuals shared their views about disability concerns occurring
in schools and the field of education. College campuses nationwide
participated in the conference via speakerphone and online. “It is
a very effective and economical way of helping to provide awareness
and understanding about the topic,” said Catherine Whitaker,
director of the Disability Resource Center. “This is one of the
best ways to include as many people as possible.” Although the
discussion was open to the entire Cal Poly community, the
conference was tailored toward education professionals. “Low
attendance was expected for the event because it occurred during
University hour”, said Whitaker. “The conference was offered at a
time various clubs and organizations hold campus meetings.” Only
four Cal Poly staff members participated in the conference. Each
individual actively listened and took notes during the PowerPoint
presentation, which discussed court decisions affecting schools.
Participants were provided with handouts of the PowerPoint material
prior to the event. Individuals were given the opportunity to
submit questions in advance and receive topic information through
e-mail. Questions were addressed during the latter portion of the
conference. The Disability Resource Center held the conference in
collaboration with the Association on Higher Education and
Disability, an organization committed to helping disabled students
pursue postsecondary learning. This discussion was the second of
five conferences scheduled to take place within the upcoming
months. Jo Ann Simon, a civil rights lawyer and founding member of
AHEAD, facilitated the presentation. Simon discussed court cases
related to higher education and students with special needs. Some
of the presented topics included institutional responsibility and
accommodations. According to, this is the second year the
association sponsored the audio conference series. The organization
strives to give students with disabilities the opportunity to
fulfill their potential. This is achieved through the numerous
workshops and publications AHEAD provides individuals across the
nation. This was the first year the Disability Resource Center
participated in the series of conferences.

The discussions taught faculty members how to design learning
curriculums accessible to all students, with or without

Individuals who have physical, functional or temporary
disabilities qualify to use the support services the center offers.
Some of the services available include testing, reading and
note-taking assistance. The Disability Resources Center promotes
equal access and opportunity for Cal Poly students with special
needs. Academic accommodations allow disabled students to
demonstrate their abilities, instead of reflecting their
limitations. “The more informed and aware we all are, the better we
can be at addressing needs,” said Whitaker. “Hopefully we [the
Disability Resource Center] are meeting the needs of students.” The
conference was designed to enable students to become academically
competitive with their non-disabled peers.

Miesha Payne-Reid can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

Audio Conference Educates Campus

Audio Conference Educates Campus

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