“Accessibility Champions” Help Open the Campus to Everyone

By Rebecca Goldfine
The Accessibility Task Force recently honored three members of the Bowdoin community—a student, a professor, and a staff person—who have "gone above and beyond in their committment to accessibility and inclusivity."

At a reception in Ladd House, Director of Student Accessibility Lesley Levy announced the three honorees: Cassidy Bateman ’24, Stanley F. Druckenmiller Associate Professor of Asian Studies Vyjayanthi Selinger, and Joe Anderson, director of campus services, events, summer programs, and logistics.

Their efforts have created openings for those with visible and invisible diabilities to more easily participate in the theater department, classes, and campus events.

Matt Orlando, senior vice president for finance and administration, who chairs the Accessibility Task Force, presented the three with their "champions for accessibility and inclusivity" awards and explained what made each recipient so deserving.

Cassidy Batemand and Matt Orlando
Cassidy Bateman ’24

“Cassidy has done remarkable work to advocate for accessibility in theatre through her role on the Masque and Gown board, helping the organization consider how to better represent and think about disability in theatre. This spring Masque & Gown put on a production, Fefu and Her Friends, that included a character who used a wheelchair.

Cassidy spearheaded discussions with board members, our director, representatives at theatre companies beyond Bowdoin, and professionals at Bowdoin. Cassidy also spearheaded a lobby exhibit that paired with the production and provided context on disability in theatre.

Cassidy has also served in a number of roles in the admissions office—senior interviewer, social media coordinator and receptionist. Cassidy centers inclusion and accessibility for admissions visitors. She has been hugely supportive of the office’s captioning initiatives and the use of audio equipment to amplify voices. If she’s aware of a special accommodation, she handles the process of initiating a visitor’s needs thoughtfully.”

Jyanthi and Juli Haugen
Professor Vyjayanthi Selinger

“Vyjayanthi Selinger was nominated for this award by one of her current students to commend her universal design approach to teaching.

Vyjayanthi proactively met student accommodations in class, she ensured that all readings were accessible multiple weeks before they were assigned, and worked with students receiving accommodations to ensure that inaccessible readings were offered in an alternative way.

She used class time to discuss stigma, discrimination, and the social model for disability which humanizes disabled people advocates for their inclusion in all areas. Lastly, it was clear to Professor Selinger’s student that she took time to educate herself on student disabilities and accommodations to best serve her students.”

Selinger credited Juli Haugen, Bowdoin's digital accessibility consultant (pictured with Selinger), for her help making classroom articles compatible with technology that can be read with tools like Speechify.

Matt Orlando presents Joe Anderson with his award
Joe Anderson

“Joe Anderson is committed to accessibility and inclusivity in numerous ways and his accessibility mindset is evident in every project he undertakes. Joe understands that accessibility encompasses more than just physical barriers and actively considers neurodivergent accessibility in his planning and execution. Some of the specific initiatives that Joe has explored include:

  • Closed captioning for the Commencement ceremony
  • Establishing a low-stimulation room
  • Ensuring an easily accessible mothers' room
  • Creating an online accessibility map
  • Adding any necessary ramps for events like the Commencement lobster bake

Joe's dedication to learning and implementing new diversity, equity, and inclusivity concepts showcases his commitment to continuous improvement. He consistently seeks out opportunities to expand his knowledge and encourages his team to do the same, fostering a culture of growth and inclusivity. His impact extends far beyond his role, leaving a lasting legacy of inclusion and belonging within our community.”