UTEP creates new ADA advisory committee

The+ADA+Advisory+Committee+provides+appropriate+accommodation+to+both+students+and+faculty+by+providing+equal+opportunities+for+those+with+disabilities.+The+Committee+held+their+first+public+meeting+on+Friday%2C+Jan.+21.+at+the+Rivera+Conference+Center+located+in+the+Union+building.++

Kristen Scheaffer

The ADA Advisory Committee provides appropriate accommodation to both students and faculty by providing equal opportunities for those with disabilities. The Committee held their first public meeting on Friday, Jan. 21. at the Rivera Conference Center located in the Union building.

Kristen Scheaffer, Staff Reporter

The newly formed Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, Advisory Committee at UTEP will meet monthly to discuss accommodation needs on campus.  

The ADA went into law in 1990 and was signed by George H. W. Bush. It was created to outlaw discrimination and provide individuals with disabilities with the means for equal opportunities. To qualify under the ADA, an individual must be deemed as having a disability which is defined as persons being impaired, whether physically or mentally, where it impacts major life pursuits, has a history of these limitations, or is recognized for these limitations, according to ada.gov. 

UTEP’s policy honors this Act, committing itself to the students, staff, and faculty to assist them with any needs on campus. 

 “President Heather Wilson requested the creation of the ADA committee to better serve people with disabilities within the UTEP community,” said Angela Martinez Ph.D., director for Center for Accommodation Support Services (CASS). “President Wilson’s goal was to have an advisory committee that would be able to help navigate the various needs of our faculty, students, and staff who have disabilities and needed accommodations across the UTEP spectrum.” 

Before the committee, UTEP utilized CASS and the Equal Opportunity Office (EO). Unlike CASS, where individual students are met with an extensive plan that accommodates their unique education needs, the advisory committee will look at a broader spectrum to meet the needs of many, according to Martinez. EO has a similar role to CASS, but instead with faculty and staff and meeting their work needs.  

The committee held their first meeting on Friday, Jan. 21, to introduce its members and discuss what the UTEP community can expect from them going forward. Some examples of the projects that the committee has addressed so far are the malfunction of a sensor on one of the doors at the Academic Advising Center and referring to Facilities the lack of an ADA button for the inner and outer doors of the library. 

“I think it’s going to give a fast track to some people to be able to email one area, the ADA advisory committee, and get that concern or issue in front of people who either have the expertise or are able to fast track it to leadership,” said Martinez, when explaining the impact she expected the committee to have on the student body.  

“We are made up of various committee members who work in key positions across UTEP,” said Martinez. “We are in a unique position to identify that a topic, or a concern, has a quick resolution, and to bring up topics or concerns directly to the departments or staff that can immediately resolve these issues or concerns.”  

Martinez and Beatriz Tapia, the director for EO, are currently co-chairs for the new committee. Other members include: 

  • Ray Gordon, Executive Director 
  • Luis Morales, Associate Director 
  • Alexander Friedrich, Project Manager 
  • Ricardo Flores, Safety Specialist III 
  • Jerri Herrera, Director
  • Angela Frederick Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Ana Diaz, Administrative Services Coordinator 
  • Mayra Rodarte, Program Coordinator/Manager 
  • Chu-Ling Lo Ph.D., Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Director Master of Rehabilitation Counseling 
  • Cindy Castro, Institutional Technologist/EIR Accessibility Coordinator  
  • Manuel Avila and Carlos Chavez of the Student Government Association 

For any questions, needs, or concerns, students are encouraged to check out the advisory committee’s page at www.utep.edu/ada-advisorycommittee. The committee can also be reached at [email protected]  

 

Kristen Scheaffer is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]