UIC Welcomes the Disability Cultural Center

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) welcomes the much-anticipated Disability Cultural Center (DCC) on its campus. Led by Roxana Stupp, former Director of the Disability Resource Center (DRC), the DCC strives to support and foster community building among students, staff, and faculty who identify as persons with disabilities or as disabled. Joining the Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change, the DCC is open to all who are interested in its mission and initiatives. Currently located on the first floor of the Richard J. Daley Library, the DCC opened its doors to the public on September 11, 2018, with a magnificent program featuring Dr. Carrie Sandahl, with a presentation entitled "What is Disability Culture?," and performances by leading Chicago artists with disabilities, including Nura Aly, Timotheus Gordon, Arlene Malinowski, Kris Lenzo, and Anita Kenney.

A Brief History

When UIC’s Office of Diversity was created in 2012, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) became part of the Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change (CCUSC). Informed by an understanding of disability as a part of diversity, this move aimed to address the clear need for a center that focused on the disability perspective. As DCC Director Roxana Stupp explained:

“[Disability] is a human experience […] It was a great moment on campus to also start talking about disability as diversity. The broader perspective, the larger picture, is to not only open a space for students, but also have an open space for staff and faculty. Accessibility, [alongside] human diversity, is about the commitment of the University to add accessibility to equity. To me it was important to put the two things together.”

The desire to create a community space for persons with disabilities on campus, as well as the legal necessity to accommodate students in the classroom, led to further conversations during the 2017-2018 academic year about how to best meet these needs. As Caryn Bills, Associate Chancellor for the Office for Access and Equity (OAE), puts it “[…] accommodations and interactions with faculty, staff, and students [are] a legal requirement, which is for students with disabilities that have to be accommodated in the academic environment.” As a result of these conversations the DRC became part of the Office for Access and Equity (OAE) in order to deal exclusively with accommodations, and the DCC was created in late February of 2018, under the Office of Diversity, with the goal of providing greater resources for programming and other support for people with disabilities on campus.

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