Justice, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

Initiatives in Accessibility Committee (IIAC)

Our mission is to promote and champion accessibility, equity, and inclusion for all members of our community. To create an environment that enhances inclusion, provides crucial resources, and fosters a sense of belonging for individuals who may otherwise feel marginalized.

  • Julie Curless (Chair), Instructor – Speech Pathology and Audiology
  • Megan Corbett, Instructor – Computer Sciences
  • Julie Eggleston, Instructor – Recreation, Park, Tourism, and Hospitality
  • Carl Ervin, Director – Office of Justice, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity
  • Casey LaFrance, Professor – Political Science
  • Kyle Ramlow, Student- President Student Government Association
  • Angela McClanahan-Simmons, Assistant Professor – WIU QC Museum Studies
  • Kristi Mindrup, Interim President
  • Winter Unverzagt, Student - VP of DEI Student Government Association
  • Katy Valentin, Director – Multicultural Center
  • Curtis Williams, Director of Student Services Quad Cities Campus

Macomb campus - 445 Morgan Hall
Quad Cities campus - Riverfront Hall 217

Western Illinois University has long been committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for students, staff, and community members alike. As part of this ongoing effort, we have acquired a space that will serve as a Sensory Room—a haven of support and resources for individuals facing challenges associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ADHD, and related conditions. This Sensory Room is a critical addition to our campus and community.

The Sensory Room is more than just a space—it is a sanctuary, on our WIU campuses, designed to provide a low sensory, safe environment for those who may experience anxiety, hyperstimulation, panic, or other discomfort. In this space, users will have access to adaptive technology and occupational therapy tools, as well as a wealth of resources and information on these conditions and strategies to manage them effectively.

  • The IIAC focuses on expanding accessibility for all students and campus visitors. Since its inception in August '23, the committee has primarily focused on initiatives to support and include neurodiverse students (those with ASD, PTSD, ADHD, etc.)
  • Estimates for ASD prevalence in the population range from 1-3% or so. When ADHS, PTSD, and other ND conditions are factored in, we are reaching at least 10% of the population. It is also very likely that, due to historical healthcare access inequities, women and people of color are vastly under-diagnosed. TikTok and other social media outlets have raised awareness about Autism and related ND conditions, so there is interest from others who haven't been formally diagnosed with a neurodivergent condition.
  • SGA President Kyle Ramlow received recognition from the WIU Board of Trustees for his work on the Sensory Room. He cultivated a gift from The Ability Experience, the philanthropic arm of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, and others to raise $5,500 for the initiative.
  • The Central Illinois Autism Association (Peoria Autism) awarded a grant of $1,000 for the Sensory Room
  • There is a ND Student Group on campus. WINDS: Western Illinois NeuroDiverse Support
  • The Neurodiversity Network features WIU as one of only fourteen universities on their list of universities with Neurodiverse Initiatives! For more info visit neurodiversitynetwork.net.
  • Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) donated books and resources to the WIU Sensory Room. For more info visit autisticadvocay.org and autismpeoria.com
  • The WIU Faculty Senate in its January 23, 2024 meeting unanimously passed a resolution in support of neurodiversity: “WIU embraces the neurodivergent paradigm, striving to create an environment where all members can thrive academically, socially, and personally, as evidenced in the creation and maintenance of resources and opportunities for all students and community members. Download the Resolution: Embracing Neurodiversity at WIU (pdf) .
  • In 2023 the collegiate athletic programs at Vanderbilt University, Michigan State University, and Penn State University opened Sensory Rooms in their athletic stadiums and /or auditoriums.
  • In 2023 the professional baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays opened a Sensory Room in their stadium.
  • In 2019 a number of NFL teams, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, opened Sensory Rooms in their stadiums.