In 2010, Saint Louis University graduate student Anne Marie Carroll conceived the idea for Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit. The innovative project has evolved each semester as new groups of students enroll in Disability in Higher Education and Society, a course taught by Karen A. Myers, Ph.D.
The Ability Institute houses Allies for Inclusion: the Ability Exhibit, the Ability Ally Initiative international workshop, and the Ability Allies in Action K-5 Curriculum.
The Ability Exhibit team is the proud recipient of the ACPA's 2013 Student Involvement Program of the Year and the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ 2012 Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Campus Program. It also received national recognition at the 2011 American College Personnel Association’s College Student Educators International annual convention.
In 2010, while teaching a self-designed graduate course, Disability in Higher Education and Society, at Saint Louis University, Karen A. Myers, Ph.D., recognized the potential a project detailed an interactive exhibit to promote dialogue about disability. She found sponsors to fund and host the initiative, and encouraged a creative team of graduate students to take the project to the next level.
Myers, who is legally blind, has more than 30 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member and administrator and 20 years in disability education and services.
Mary Ann Borgesen is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Higher Education Administration in Saint Louis University’s School of Education. She learned about the Ability Exhibit while enrolled at SLU and joined the Ability Exhibit team through an internship. She continues to provide logistical functions for the exhibit. In addition, she is currently assisting with the creation of a new exhibit to promote international travel of the exhibit and spread the message of disability inclusion.
Stephen Kissel, Ph.D., helps ensure future components of the exhibit and initiative are accessible for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. He also arranged for Lighthouse for the Blind to purchase iPod Shuffles that improve the ease with which a blind or low-vision patron operates the Ability Exhibit’s audio tour.
Dominique Masters is purusing an M.A. in Student Personnel Administration in Saint Louis University's School of Education. Dominique learned about the Ability Institute through a class lead by Karen Myers, Ph.D. Dominique is assisting the Ability Exhibit in making its way to the United Kingdom, from where she originates.
Diane Richter learned about the Ability Exhibit during her doctoral coursework at Saint Louis University and has been an advocate for inclusion throughout her career. She has promoted disability awareness in schools throughout St. Louis City and County. Currently she is coordinating Ability Allies in Action K-5 Curriculum which will allow schools to promote inclusion for all students. Diane is a Ph.D. student in Disability Education.
Aimee Wehmeier is the president and CEO of Paraquad, is a nonprofit based in St. Louis focused on empowering people with disabilities. She has provided feedback based on her experience as a professional in the disability field as Paraquad continues to promote the exhibit in the community, and has developed a partnership program with the Ability Institute: 'AccessibleSTL'.