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DDCE Establishes New Disability Cultural Center

Newly created Disability Cultural Center to serve as a hub for students with disabilities and all members of the university community
Emily Shryock, Director of the New Disability Cultural Center
Emily Shryock, Director of the New Disability Cultural Center

The DDCE is proud to announce the creation of the Disability Cultural Center (DCC), which will serve as a hub on campus for organizing, community building and expression for disabled students and all members of The University of Texas at Austin.

Emily  Shryock, who previously served as the director of campus collaborations and access in Disability and Access, has been named director of the DCC. In this role, she will expand upon her work in supporting students with disabilities in various ways—from spearheading big events such as Disability Graduation and Adapted Sports Night to leading student support groups. The DCC will also engage with disabled faculty and staff as well as allies and advocates across campus, providing new opportunities for these groups to connect and engage with each other and with students.

 “A lot of the work that will be done in the DCC are initiatives that started in Disability & Access,” Shryock says. “My role will be focused on community building, identity development, training and education.”

One of just 12 Disability Cultural Centers in the nation—and the first of its kind in Texas—the DCC is designed to provide a space where disabled members of the UT community can come together and celebrate disability culture and identity. Shryock envisions the DCC to operate much like other established centers on campus, such as the Multicultural Engagement Center and the Gender & Sexuality Center. The planning process for the physical space is currently underway. Events and gatherings are being held in various locations on campus and online. Visit the DCC website to find a full listing of events.

“The DCC is a place where disability is normalized and celebrated on campus,” Shryock says. “This is where students can find their community and be celebrated for who they are.”

Shryock credits several student organizations—Student Government, Disability Advocacy Student Coalition and many others—for starting the grassroots campaign to create this space on campus. In 2021, a formal working group of students, faculty and staff was formed to bring the DCC into fruition.

Shryock is especially grateful for several university leaders who have played a key role in championing the center’s creation: Dr. LaToya Smith, vice president for diversity and community engagement; Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, vice president for student affairs and dean of students; and Dr. Jennifer Maedgen, senior associate vice president in DDCE.

“It’s really incredible how quickly this all came together, which doesn’t happen often in higher education,” says Shryock, who is pleased to note that the center received funding for the next three years. “This speaks to the commitment made by our university leaders and amazing campus partners. They put a lot of time and energy into making the DCC a reality, and I appreciate their support.”

Jasper Howard is the new Director of Campus Collaborations and Access at Disability & Access (D&A), which will continue to serve an important role in ensuring students have equal access to education through accommodations and services. Visit the D&A website to learn more about their resources and services.