Arkansas Tech Celebrates ADA Week

th anniversary of the passing of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Dr. John Watson, vice president for academic affairs, issued a campus proclamation last week announcing the recognition week. The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. The ADA and ADAAA also assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications. President George H. Bush signed the act into law July 26, 1990. Arkansas Tech University offers several programs of study that have been significantly impacted by its passing. Some of the programs include the rehabilitation science program, the occupation therapy assistant program and courses in therapeutic recreation. “Several of the programs available at the university focus on providing services to those with disabilities,” said Dr. Penny Willmering, professor of rehabilitation science at Arkansas Tech. “The ADA plays an important part in the curriculum and the hands-on instruction students receive in order to ensure they are well-equipped to advocate for effective services for persons with disabilities.” Additionally, the Arkansas Tech Office of Disability Services works to provide the appropriate accommodations for individuals with disabilities. “ADA has been instrumental in helping communities across the nation better serve individuals with disabilities,” said Liz Means, director of the Office of Disability Services. The Tech office serves as the campus liaison for individuals with disabilities that experience barriers in the educational environment. “Our role is to identify and eliminate barriers so that disabling conditions do not prevent students from having access to higher education opportunities. Without accommodation, many students would not be able to obtain college degrees and go on to competitive employment,” said Means. Since its passage, the act has helped thousands of individuals gain access to new opportunities. “The ADA is a significant piece of legislation for thousands of Americans with disabilities,” said Dr. Cathi McMahan, head of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Hospitality. “Throughout this week we want to celebrate its passage and how it allows our students to better prepare to assist those with disabilities.” Willmering said the act would continue to play an important role in the country. “It is an important piece of legislation in that it improves the quality of life for all Americans.  As an educator, I hope to prepare students I interact with to be successful in their career field. Part of that success includes understanding the ADA and its significance. I hope, through this celebration, our students will obtain a better understanding of the ADA and what it means for them and the individuals they hope to serve. I also hope this celebration educates the university community and the public about the importance of equal rights and opportunities for all individuals,” said Willmering.]]>