Published May 19, 2023 by Rebecca Goldfine

Three Are Honored at Second Annual Accessibility Ceremony

A librarian, professor, and student were recognized at a May 18 ceremony as "champions of accessibility and inclusivity" for their work to make "the College environment a better one for students," said Juli Haugen, Bowdoin's digital accessibility consultant.
Beth Hoppe, Emily Peterman, and Philip Bonnauno
Beth Hoppe, Emily Peterman, and Philip Bonnauno ’23.

The Thursday date was selected for the event because May 18 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The Accessibility Task Force received many nominations before identifying Social Sciences Research and Instruction Librarian Beth Hoppe, Associate Professor of Earth and Oceanographic Science Emily Peterman, and Philip Bonanno ’23 as this year's champions.

The Accessibility Task Force is made up of faculty, staff, and students who seek to fulfill Bowdoin’s commitment to accessibility for people with all types of disabilities, impairments, health conditions, or other access needs. It works to identify and eliminate barriers, and to ensure the College fulfills its legal obligations as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Beth Hoppe gets her award from Matt Orlando
Beth Hoppe receives her award from Matt Orlando.

Beth Hoppe

Hoppe, a science librarian, designs all her instruction sessions and classes to be inclusive. She also goes a step further by sharing the latest information on accessibility with her colleagues and collaborating with others on campus to make their activities inclusive. "She embodies the principle that inclusivity improves the learning and work environments for those with disabilities and for everyone," said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Matt Orlando—who is chair of the Accessibility Task Force—as he presented Hoppe with her award.

This year, Hoppe worked with students to create book displays on the first floor of the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. During the fall semester, she created a book display about digital accessibility and universal design for learning to enhance the College’s celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Week. In December, Hoppe partnered with students from the Disabled Students' Association to create a collection of books centered around disability during the week of Disabled Persons’ Day

Emily Peterman

As chair of the Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science (EOS), Peterman has been influential in helping the department establish and achieve goals related to accessibility. Over the past few years, EOS has worked to identify obstacles to access and has applied a two-pronged approach that includes universal design for all students and accommodations for individual students.

Peterman and her EOS colleagues have put practices and guidelines into place that make their classrooms and fieldwork more accessible, including using drones and other assistive technologies to provide opportunities when a field site may not otherwise be accessible. She also regularly considers accessibility when it comes to the types of assignments she gives her students, as well as uses alternative formats of assessment.

"Peterman continues to encourage colleagues across Bowdoin’s academic departments to have more conversations about accessibility and make further improvements, particularly in the natural sciences where there are still many barriers for students with disabilities," Orlando said, before handing Peterman her award.

Philip Bonanno ’23

Bonanno, an English major and government and legal studies minor, received several nominations from people across campus as, over his four years at Bowdoin, he has served as model, mentor, and educator for many. As leader of the Disabled Students Association, Bonanno has been one of the most active, consistent, and efficient advocates in creating lasting change and greater awareness around issues of disability and accessibility. His advocacy for the disabled community led to the hiring of Claude Olson, Bowdoin’s first disability culture coordinator. He planned social and educational events, helped organize a writing workshop to talk about disability and identity, and was instrumental in planning and executing Disabled Persons' Day at Bowdoin. He also organized a video game night where he highlighted the many accessibility features available for players.

Bonnano's honors project advisor, Director of Writing and Rhetoric Meredith McCarroll, shared that “in the classroom, Philip has embraced the field of disability studies—elevating conversations by integrating this work into class discussions. In his honors project, he engaged at a deep level in the intersection of disability studies, queer theory, and southern studies—proposing a new and groundbreaking way of thinking.”

Orlando presented Bonnano his prize and said, "As Philip gets ready to graduate, there is no doubt that his impact will have a lasting effect on our community, and we are now—though far from perfect—a more inclusive and accessible campus than we were before."
The Accessibility Task Force
Some members of the 2022-2023 Accessibility Task Force with the 2023 champions of accessibility and inclusivity, and Prancer the working dog.