CELEBRATING Daniel shonk's ACCESSIBILITY EFFORTS AS An associate Director of University Housing

Improving accessibility is everyone's job! We'll use this feature of Inside Equal Access to celebrate how a Kent State employee has championed accessibility and created workable strategies for improving Equal Access for all. In this issue, we celebrate Daniel Shonk who coordinates housing assignments for students with a SAS approved housing accommodation. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 edition of Inside Equal Access.  

Daniel ShonkOur employee spotlight for this issue is Daniel Shonk, the Associate Director of University Housing and oversees assignments in housing. Daniel Shonk has worked at Kent State for 18 years and has been Associate Director for 5 years.   

Daniel Shonk
Associate Director

Please explain what your job entails.  
My focus is on the housing assignment process. This includes everything from the initial housing application through assigning students to their room. As part of this, I also oversee the early arrival/move-in process at the start of each semester and room change processes. In working with the housing assignment process, I also work with the Student Accessibility Services Office to coordinate housing assignments for students with a SAS (Student Accessibility Services) approved housing accommodation.  

How, if at all, does digital or physical accessibility intersect with what you just explained?  
In working with housing assignments, I focus mostly on working with students with an approved SAS housing accommodation to ensure they are in the correct residence hall and room type to meet any housing needs related to their disabilities. Part of this is working with SAS staff and the students to discuss what accommodation options are available in the different residence halls and working with students to find the placement that will help them succeed and have a memorable experience while living on campus.  

What attracted you to the area of accessibility?  
Personally, I like to know and understand how things work. By default, I'm the type of person that likes to gather information and file it away until needed. This is helpful in terms of accessibility within the residence halls as I am to figure out what types of accommodation are available in different halls to meet student needs and requests.  

What does your perfect day off look like? 
Honestly, it’s going to start with sleeping in – because how could the perfect day start any other way. Then I would start the morning with a good cup of tea. From there finding some time to hang out with some friends and enjoying the day – which is easier now that the spring weather has arrived (but I’m really looking forward to late fall 😊) 

Is there a personal reason or situation that caused you to become interested in accessibility?  
Initially, it was as result of it being part of my job description. But as I started to work with and get to know the students – it has become a matter of helping ensure all Kent State students can be successful students and are aware of the various accommodations that are available.  

How have you worked to improve the digital accessibility of materials, programs, and teams that you work with here at Kent State?  
One the the best ways that the housing accommodation has been improved is the relationship our office has built and maintains with SAS. Through effective communication and collaboration, we’ve developed a dialog between both offices that places students first.  

What advice would you give to someone just beginning to learn about accessibility?  
Stay with it. The area of accessibility is one that continually grows and evolves. There is so much to learn and countless ways to be impactful.