Local news station WRCB Channel 3 recently covered a story featuring UTC graduate Scott Kramer. At 47, despite his two previous degrees obtained before enrolling at our University, his job prospects had sputtered out. But this time, as he crossed the stage at McKenzie Arena and shook hands with Chancellor Steven Angle, he wasn’t worried about finding a job or being passed over because of his Autism Spectrum Disorder. This time, he had a job waiting for him before he even donned his cap and gown.
“If you have children with Autism Disorders I want you to look at someone like myself…If I can do this, know your children can do this too,” Kramer said in an on camera interview.
Success stories like Kramer’s have landed UTC’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) national recognition for their passion, and the services they provide to all of our students as they create opportunities and nurture potential.
The College Choice recently released their list of campuses that are most disability friendly. UTC made the cut as the only university in Tennessee of the 50 universities named on the list.
College Choice explains that when creating this list, they take into account several key factors to ensure students looking for schools with exceptional support for students of all abilities will get the best rate of return on their educational investment. The ranking began with a list of schools that far exceed the minimum legal requirements for accessibility. That list was then evaluated and ranked based on factors like academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, average financial aid award, and average salary of recent graduates.”The vast majority of universities in the united states simply meet the minimum accessibility standards set by the government. The schools on this list, however, are some of the best in the country at committing resources and funding to equip their students with the tools they need thrive,” said Coby Cagle, Associate Editor of the ranking.
“With this ranking we highlight the universities and colleges that devote an abundant amount of resources to ensure that students of all abilities have equal access to a high-quality education,” said Christian Amondson, Managing Editor of College Choice.
College Choice noted the UTC DRC’s MoSAIC program in their list. MoSAIC is crafted for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It supports students during their four year journey on Campus with components including mentoring and academic/life coaching and prepares students for their careers beyond the classroom.
“I think what sets us apart from other universities is that we genuinely have partnered with the campus as a whole to commit to developing a culture of access on our campus. Rather than always thinking about how to accommodate on the back end when someone with a disability needs equal access, we encourage and help facilitate design with access in mind. Whether the design is in a building, a class, or a program, we encourage everyone to think about accessibility as a main component to the process,” said Dr. Michelle Rigler, Director, DRC.
Rigler attributes part of the DRC’s success to the disABILITY Ambassador Training program that they conduct.
“At the end of each workshop, we ask participants to make a commitment through just one thing they can do to have an impact on our campus culture of accessibility. Whether it is to monitor the purchasing of accessible technology or speaking up when discriminatory comments are made, each commitment takes us a step closer to this culture we would like to see at UTC,” Rigler said.
Rigler continued, “This program along with the Mosaic Program support the fact that at UTC, we see the ADA-AA as the baseline for what we provide. We do many things above what is required because we are passionate about the work we do and we are so proud to have been included in this list. There are so many schools that do really tremendous work and it is nice to be recognized publicly.”