Virginia Tech strives to make the university welcoming and accessible to people of differing abilities.

An awards celebration hosted by Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) each year recognizes those across campus who commit their time and energy in search for innovative ways to make better accessibility a reality. This year’s Excellence in Access and Inclusion Awards ceremony honored 41 students, staff, and faculty members. The celebration was held April 23 in Old Dominion Ballroom with the support of the Office for Inclusion and Diversity and Sally Bohland, a generous donor and member of the Ut Prosim Society.

“We are proud to honor those striving to make our living and learning environments more accessible for everyone,” said Nikeshia Arthur, director of SSD. “Their work and leadership make a lasting impact on the university and those who benefit our community.”

The theme was “Animals: Assistance and Accessibility.” Moose, Cook Counseling Center’s therapy dog, joined the celebration. Moose’s handler, Trent Davis, counselor and coordinator of animal assisted therapy, was a presenter. Other presenters were Virginia Corrigan, an assistant professor in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, and veteran Jason Ehrhart and his mother, Pam Estes.

Among the award recipients were:

  • Candace Wall, a chemistry instructor in the College of Science – the 2019 Sally Bohland Excellence in Access and Inclusion Award, which recognizes a faculty member who is a model for others and whose leadership fosters a culture of access and inclusion.
  • Graduate student Elizabeth Spingola ’19 – the 2019 Sally Bohland Excellence in Innovative Service Award.
  • Volunteer note takers.
  • Members of Synapse, a student-run organization that offers support for students with brain injury.
  • Select faculty and staff from across the university.

Menah Pratt-Clark, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity, welcomed award recipients and guests to the ceremony. Chris Wise, assistant vice president for student affairs, offered closing remarks.

Work affiliated with the launch of a new Virginia Tech Accessibility Portal was also recognized. The site offers students, staff, and faculty comprehensive campus accessibility resources and information on university policies.

Written by Tammy Tripp.