Bioengineering Recognized for Accessibility

The university's President's Commission on Disability Issues, which advises the President on issues to improve the quality of life for students and employees with disabilities, presented The Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) with an honorable mention at its annual Disability Awards Ceremony held October 1. According to commission chair Professor Gay Gullickson (History), the department was selected "for its work in making the department user-friendly for students and others with wheelchairs."

BioE was nominated by Mrs. Deborah Graff (B.A. '72, art), mother of undergraduate bioengineering major Steven Graff, currently a sophomore in the program. She cited the faculty and staff's efforts to ensure her son, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, received the same opportunities and educational experiences as any other student, despite some challenges most of us would never have to think about.

"[The faculty's] positive attitude helped Steven believe he would be successful at Maryland," Graff wrote in her nomination letter.

She and her husband, Gil Graff (B.S. '72, aerospace engineering), shared Steven's experiences with others involved with assisting the disabled. The story reached the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Quest Magazine, which subsequently published an article that discussed disability-specific issues to consider when choosing a college.

"Now many people outside the University of Maryland are aware that disabled students can be successful," Deborah Graff explained in her letter. "[H]aving a positive attitude toward the disabled can influence the world around us."

In thanking the commission, BioE Professor and Chair William Bentley said, "It is truly gratifying that The Fischell Department of Bioengineering is both receptive and proactively helpful to all of its 'family'. As a new department, we are trying to build a culture of excellence and inclusion."

Published October 2, 2007