VCU’s Transforming Accessibility Initiative hosted their inaugural event, “Entrepreneurship, ‘Way-Finding’ and the Value of Difference” on October 8. As part of the event, the university’s first-ever Champions of Accessibility awards were given to recognize faculty, staff, students and VCU departments who have made a significant contribution in the areas of accessibility or general disability supports. The College is proud to call four of the award recipients their own.
Joshua Langberg, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences and associate professor of clinical psychology, received the award for his ADHD research and services. In 2015 he received a grant from U.S. Department of Education to conduct the first large test of intervention services designed specifically for college students diagnosed with ADHD. He partnered with the Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity Office (SAEO) to reach out to students with ADHD at VCU who needed support. Since that time, his group has conducted more than 300 diagnostic evaluations for students concerned about ADHD here at VCU, services that can be very costly in the community. They have also provided group and mentoring services for more than 200 VCU students with ADHD. Their preliminary data analyses show that students in the program made significant improvements in mental health and academic outcomes and importantly, were much more likely to get connected to other support services offered here at VCU.
The Departments of Physics and Biology received Digital Access Awards for a medium and large unit, respectively. The departments received the awards for having websites that attained the highest digital certainty index (DCI) at the university. DCI is a measure of accessibility and usability and can therefore indicate how well a person who requires assistive technology may be able to access information on a given website. The units’ web liaisons, Art Reber (Physics) and Will Moran (Biology), received the awards on behalf of their departments.
Isabelle Richman, Ph.D., J.D., is a teaching assistant professor in the School of World Studies. Dr. Richman received the faculty award for student support for her work as adviser to the Association for Students with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions, a newly founded student group for the 2018-19 school year with about 40 graduate and undergraduate members. The group’s goals are to raise awareness of and advocate for VCU students with disabilities, as well as to build community among its members and the larger Richmond community.