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Institute Will Select an ADA Coordinator

By Charu Chaudhry
Staff Reporter

A search committee has narrowed its pool to three candidates to fill the role of a disabilities services coordinator and a final decision should be made by the end of the month, according to Vice President for Human Resources Joan F. Rice.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandates the creation of a Section 504 coordinator, a person "intended by the federal government to be a central person that could aid disabled students and personnel via counseling, referrals, and advocacy," wrote former Undergraduate Association Vice President Anne S. Tsao '94.

Tsao described the need for a coordinator in a letter to Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56 written last year.

The "position of coordinator is a very important one, and a lot needs to be done," Rice said. "In the past, different people have been helping with the problems related to this issue, but now we hope to get it coordinated in one area."

Coordinator will be an educator

The new coordinator's responsibilities will include keeping track of federal regulations related to the ADA and monitoring progress made in the schedule of the alteration of facilities to accommodate disabled persons, Rice said.

The coordinator will also be responsible for dealing directly with students with disabilities, providing students with information about options and resources, as well as contacts in the Boston area, Rice said. The coordinator should be someone "to whom a person with a disability can come to and tell of their difficulty," Rice said.

The coordinator will also function as an educator, "someone who can teach others of what they need to be sensitive about and conscious about so that they can treat the person with consideration and respect," Rice said.

The selection process for a disabilities services coordinator started in the first week of October. The search committee considered 180 applicants and decided to interview 11 people before making its final recommendation to Rice.

The search committee included people from all areas of MIT that have a connection with the implementation of the ADA on campus: Physical Plant Staff Architect and Designer Roy E. Ward, Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Bonnie J. Walters, Computer Support Services Consultant Susan M. Jones, Personnel Office Representative Nancy Collins, Associate Planning Officer Michael K. Owu, Assistant for Community Relations in the President's Office Paul Parravano, and Samuel D. Hartman '98.

Collins said that everyone was excited about seeing the position of coordinator created and filled. "The applicant pool was exceptional, and any one of the three finalists will do a fine job," she said.

Immerman agreed that "the quality of applicants was outstanding." Candidates' credentials ranged from experience in government, the legal profession, advocacy, program development, and education, Immerman said. He hopes that a new disabilities services coordinator will bring more activity in a more organized fashion.