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, J.D., M.A.
Engage community to create awareness of accessibility
By Joan Hope, Ph.D., Editor
When Catherine E. Johnson, J.D., M.A., became
director of the ADA Resource Center for Equity
and Accessibility at the University of Kansas, she
planned a series of efforts to improve the Hawk
Route, an accessible route across campus.
What steps were needed to get Hawk Route
improvements to happen?
The route goes three-quarters of a mile, through
ﬁve buildings and about 400 feet up a hill. The
signage is a little confusing, and it’s not clear it’s
an accessible route. The ﬁrst step was to create
three videos about the route. I brought stakehold-
ers together, including individuals with disabilities
willing to talk about the importance of the Hawk
Route. Media Production helped with the video and
captioning, and another department provided au-
Although the route was historically intended
for people with mobility impairments, I wanted to
include people with other types of disabilities. A
colleague and I wrote an audio guide for visually
impaired people and had individuals with visual
disabilities test it.
We held a red carpet event featuring the people in
the videos. I could tell from the comments it had been
a really empowering experience. And the folks who
helped with testing the audio guide were able to rec-
ognize their visual impairment as a type of expertise.
You held a design contest for a new logo.
How did that contest and the resulting logo
enhance the project?
If you’re not familiar with the route, it’s easy
to get lost. I wanted to update the wayﬁnding
with a logo that would designate accessibility.
A professor in the design department has his
sophomore class complete a project each year for
a real-life client and thought this project would be
I put together a committee to help outline what
we were hoping to have in the ﬁnal project and
to choose ﬁve ﬁnalists and a winning design. The
committee included faculty, staff, and students
who worked with individuals with disabilities, in-
dividuals with disabilities, and representation from
many campus units.
The design challenge was to show accessibility
and inclusiveness in a new way.
A media campaign shared the top ﬁve designs,
and the provost announced the winner. The signs
are currently in production. On April 10, a red
ribbon cutting ceremony will relaunch the Hawk
Route with the new signage.
Email Catherine E. Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view videos about the Hawk Route and learn
more about accessibility efforts at KU, visit
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