IUP Presents Ray Coppler Award to Disability Advocates

Posted on 10/30/2013 4:18:50 PM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs presented the 2013 Ray Coppler Award to faculty member Annah Hill and to student John Grant.

The awards are designed to honor a student or faculty or staff member for exemplary contributions to disability education, awareness, or inclusiveness at IUP. The recipients were honored during the university’s Six O’Clock Series program on October 28, 2013, that celebrated October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Hill, a member of IUP’s Special Education and Clinical Services Department, has been at IUP for five years. She received her bachelor’s degree from IUP in Deaf Education in 2001 and obtained her Level 2 instructional certificates after she completed her deaf education master’s degree and reading specialist certification from the University of Pittsburgh. 

She obtained her special education certification from IUP in 2013. She is also a doctoral candidate in IUP’s Curriculum and Instruction program and is working toward the add-on certification for teaching English language learners. In the past, she has presented her research at the Pennsylvania Educators of Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing conference. She has also worked closely with the Arc of Indiana County to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss and the deaf in her community, as well as those with multiple disabilities. Her research interests include self-determination, self-advocacy, assistive technology and curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

She was nominated for the award by Cynthia Richburg, a faculty member in her department. In her nomination, Richburg noted that Hill “is the strongest advocate for people with disabilities that I know. Because she has a disability herself (hearing loss), she not only has the ability to advocate for others, she has a personal knowledge of daily life as a person with a disability, as well. She has impacted adults and children alike—at the university level, by teaching IUP students, and at the community level, graduating deaf educators into the Pennsylvania education system, working with the Arc of Indiana, and getting others involved in the Special Needs Activity Program at IUP. She has assisted people in the community who are no longer in school but in need of building communication skills through sign language. Some of these people have hearing loss, but others have cognitive or physical disabilities. She is a wonderful educator, a tireless supporter of people who experience challenges of all kinds, and an excellent role model for others who are developing careers in the deaf education and disability services programs. When our department needed a disability service coordinator due to the retirement of a faculty member, she stepped up and has done a wonderful job advising the students in that program. She is a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and for students training to work with people with disabilities. Several local agencies that are developed to meet the needs of people with disabilities have benefited from her assistance with their programs.”

Grant received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa before working as a foreign language teacher and as a teacher educator in Taiwan for several years. After returning to the United States, Grant worked in International Student and Scholar Services at the University of Kansas. Later, he received a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from IUP. At that time, he served as the president of the student association.

Grant also worked as a graduate assistant for several years in IUP’s Office of International Education, where he was the Conversation Club coordinator, International Friendship Program co-coordinator, and the Foreign Film and Music Series coordinator. He is working on a dissertation in order to complete a Ph.D. in composition and TESOL at IUP. He is also a teaching associate for IUP, teaching a composition class for the Department of English and English as a second language for the American Language Institute. He served as a founding member of the Composition and TESOL Association and is the managing editor for the Crimson Quill. His publications include an article focusing on teacher identity and another about a road trip he took with entertainer Tiny Tim. He has presented his research at several national conferences.

Grant is a staunch disability rights advocate. His upcoming presentation at the 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication will convey his personal narrative about disability accommodation. Also, his doctoral dissertation focuses on disability rhetoric in composition and the disabling stigma people with impairments encounter at universities.

He was nominated by Ann Amicucci, a doctoral student in the English Department. In her nomination, she noted Grant’s “ongoing commitment to raising awareness of accommodations for individuals with disabilities on campus. As a teaching associate in the English Department, he regularly educates his colleagues on and provides them with information on universal design, particularly in terms of accommodating a range of student abilities and learning styles in the writing classroom. He has also been active on campus in raising awareness of access issues, including the need for handicapped parking spaces located more closely to academic buildings and the need for ramp access to campus events. In his daily interactions, he is constantly educating other campus employees on disability access issues, which I believe would make him a deserving recipient of this award.”