As the Coordinator for Disability & Accessibility Services of Berea College, it is up to Lisa Ladanyi to work with students, faculty and staff to ensure that students with disabilities at Berea College are able to participate in the Berea experience to the fullest. In her words, she oversees “the coordination and provision of reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities by collaborating with others to implement classroom, residential, labor and facility accommodations and assistive technology.” This past year, Lisa has worked hard to foster an inclusive and equitable environment and to decrease barriers to provide equal access in order to meet the federal and state mandates regarding accessibility for students with disabilities.
Though this job has existed for many years, it used to be a role that went along with other job positions. This is the first time that Berea College has designated a job exclusively to disability and accessibility issues, and Lisa is delighted to be in this position. Because Berea has always fought discrimination and strives to be an inclusive community, it is important that we recognize disability as an aspect of diversity that is integral to society and to our college. This can be derived directly from the Great Commitments of Berea College. It is a federal law as well, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, where no otherwise qualified individual may be excluded from participation in any program receiving federal financial assistance because of a disability. Lisa strives to fulfill the expectations of the College and federal law every day at her job through facilitating and coordinating services to increase accessibility and inclusion for all Berea College students.
Lisa has a bachelor’s degree in pedagogy from the University of Augsburg and a master’s degree in adult education from the University of Oldenburg. Ten years after graduating, she changed course and decided to pursue and complete a master’s degree in counseling from East Central University in Oklahoma. In the past, she has worked as a high school teacher and adult education instructor as well as a counselor in five different states and Germany. In the past 10 years, however, she has worked directly in the disability field in post-secondary education.
Lisa has been gravitating toward Berea for quite some time. She states: “I have been wanting to work at Berea College since I moved to Kentucky 10 years ago. I am intrigued by Berea College because of its unique history, its mission to reach out to students with limited resources and unlimited potential, and its inclusiveness. It is due to her agreement with the principles and legacy of the college that she is drawn to Berea.
When she came to be interviewed for the job, Lisa was on crutches due to foot surgery. And though one of her interviewers suspected that she was secretly checking out the accessibility issues at Berea, she states that this was not the case, “at least not by design.” But as she found herself experiencing disability and accessibility issues firsthand, it helped her to gain a new perspective on how important her job is and what it can do for people. Says Lisa, “It was a good learning experience for me.”
When asked to explain what drew her to this kind of work, Lisa said:
“I’ve always wanted to work with young adults in an educational or counseling setting and kind of stumbled into the disability field, but I like it very much. The job is interesting and challenging, and I can draw on my different talents. I get the opportunity to deal with a variety of people and issues. But the biggest reward is to see that my work can make a real difference in someone’s life.”
Given her empathy, drive, natural talent, and experience, Lisa Ladanyi is a perfect fit for the position.