A six months' search came to an end this summer when Barbara Roberts joined the staff as MIT's first coordinator for disability services.
Ms. Roberts came to MIT in July from the University of Rhode Island where she had been assistant director for student life, responsible for disability services for some 750 students with learning and/or physical disabilities. She was also the compliance officer for assuring that reasonable accommodations were made for disabled people. At MIT she is responsible for integrating policy, programs and training for persons with disabilities-staff as well as students-in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
After establishing programs at URI, Ms. Roberts said the opportunity to come to MIT was a new challenge to set priorities in making MIT a welcoming place for disabled people. "At URI," she said, "I often felt I was a sole voice, and that has not been the case here. There is widespread interest in making improvements."
She has been working with the ad hoc committee on disabilities that was established last September and plans to use it as a basis for creating task groups to address specific problems such as access. Interested volunteers will be welcome to join these efforts, she said.
Ms. Roberts is a graduate of URI with a master's degree in adult education. She has consulted widely and for the past four years has chaired the Rhode Island Task Force on Learning Disabilities in Higher Education. She is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the American College Personnel Association and has spoken frequently on disability issues at their regional and national meetings.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 1995.