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University of Texas at Arlington Libraries launch first Texas History of Disability website

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

News Topics: faculty, history, Internet, liberal arts, staff, students

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The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries today announced a new website showcasing the Texas Disability History Collection.

The Texas Disability History Collection website, http://library.uta.edu/txdisabilityhistory/, is funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Documents, videos, images and oral histories emphasizing the work of various disability advocates who were students, faculty or staff at UTA are featured.

The site also reaches beyond the University’s walls to include images and documents on the local, state, regional and national levels.

“UTA Libraries is the only repository in the state focused on collecting Texas disability history materials,” said Brenda McClurkin, department head of the UTA Libraries Special Collections. “In addition to documenting UTA’s pre-eminent role in making higher education accessible to students with disabilities, the Texas Disability History Collection is comprised of materials in wide-ranging formats including maps, government reports, graphics, photographs and artifacts drawn from collections of personal papers and organizational records, University archives, Texas Labor archives, the Texas Political History Collection, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives. The compilation provides a historical perspective into the 19th century and earlier.”

The collection contains many items highlighting the work of Sam Provence and Jim Hayes, UTA alumni who worked tirelessly to promote accessibility in higher education. The Movin’ Mavs men’s wheelchair basketball team is prominently featured, showcasing the University’s leadership in the adapted sports movement.

UTA's Freewheelers (wheelchair basketball team) during game action, Glen Williamson and Brian Welnack pictured. University of Texas at Arlington, Special Collections. ©2016

The Texas Disability History Collection website, http://library.uta.edu/txdisabilityhistory/, is funded through a $25,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

The grant focused on the development of the website with accessibility as the forefront.

“We wanted to stretch beyond the state mandate regarding website accessibility and did so through specialized usability testing and conversations with the Office for Students with Disabilities Adaptive Resource Center,” said Ramona Holmes, head of the UTA Libraries Digital Creation Department.

In addition to accessible coding techniques and visual design, all documents were scanned with optical character recognition software, then unrecognized text was entered manually.

Synchronized subtitles were provided for videos and text transcripts for audio files. Additionally, the staff in the Disability Studies Minor program provided guidance in the selection of materials and website development.

A related physical exhibit called “Building a Barrier-Free Campus” is currently on view in the Central Library’s Sixth Floor Parlor. The exhibit is accessible in digital format at http://library.uta.edu/barrier-freecampus/.

The exhibit explores how UTA became a model accessible campus for students with disabilities starting in the mid-1960s — a time when disabled students had no right to attend K-12 schools or college. An expanded online version will accompany the physical exhibit in late 2016.     

--written by C.D. Walter

About the UTA Libraries

UTA Libraries embrace a vision to be a catalyst for creativity and collaboration. Through open access projects like the Texas Disability History Collection, the Libraries provide global access to world class primary source collections. To learn more about UTA Libraries, please visit http://library.uta.edu or follow us @utalibrary.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution of about 55,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

For more on the Strategic Plan, see Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.