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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Meet Jordan Lome, Emerson’s first assistant director of accessible engagement

Photo: Rachel Choi

Jordan “Jordy” Lome has joined Emerson’s Student Accessibility Services (SAS) team as the first Assistant Director of Accessible Engagement. 

Their brand-new position, designed to strengthen the college’s approach towards disability and accessibility inclusion, began on Sept. 5. 

It’s busy and exciting,” Lome said of their starting weeks. “I feel like I’m coming in as an Emersonian that’s not formally an Emersonian.” 

Lome will be working with students and campus organizations on furthering disability and accessibility inclusion, within the lens of intersectionality, through training, consultation work, technical assistance, and other methods students see fit.

The position calls for working with other partners in the college, including Intercultural Student Affairs, SEAL, and the Social Justice Committee, to see how SAS can fit disability with additional campus initiatives and improve accessibility at events.

I’m hoping to encourage discussions not just amongst students but with students in other departments,” Lome said. “How can we make our events as accessible as they can be, and what things should we keep an eye out for accessibility?” 

Lome’s role, created in partnership with Shaya Gregory Poku and VP and Dean of Students, Jim Hoppe, and other administrative leadership, was in reply to student demands asking to improve the campus climate on disability, Poku said.

Diane Paxton, Director of SAS, led the search for Lome’s role and crafted the position’s description. Poku said she recommended the creation of this type of role with the intention of it being a counterpart to the Accessible Design Specialist position created in the Social Justice Collaborative. This additional role will be occupied by Erin Robins, who starts in October. 

Poku said that the need for more support in the sector of disability was identified by Access: Student Disability Union’s Action Plan for Disability Justice and external reviewers like Beyond Racial Equity, whose work recognized vital action essential for disability equity. 

“This is a fantastic addition,” Poku said of the new positions. In their role, Jordan will “add to the expertise and overall bench strength at Emerson to increase resources for staff, students, and faculty members with disabilities.” 

Having an extensive background in informal education for youth with disabilities, Lome brings their experience into Emerson’s work towards disability inclusivity. 

Lome graduated with a Master’s in Community Arts Education at Lesley University in 2016. From there, they served two years with AmeriCorps at Providence Children’s Museum, working largely with early childhood programming both in and out of the museum. They also played an outsized role in inclusion initiative work within the museum itself. 

Afterward, Lome worked for Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD), a Boston-based nonprofit that provides mentoring and career readiness programming for youth in the area, in three different positions. 

Throughout six years at PYD, Lome’s responsibilities within their varying roles included working with youth with disabilities, ages six to 24, and matching them with mentors for social and emotional development and independence. They also helped manage and oversee group programming, from the arts to career readiness services. 

Lome’s first encounter with Emerson came about during their time with PYD. This past summer, Emerson hosted the Youth Leadership Forum, an annual conference for youth and young adults with disabilities in the state. PYD participants worked with accessibility programming at the college and 50 of the organization’s youth stayed on campus for four days to experience living on a college campus. 

At PYD, Lome said they learned how conversations surrounding disability can move beyond inclusion being just an attitude, but in having a space of belonging. While their time at PYD has ended, Lome is bringing such passion for shaping inclusion to their new role at Emerson. 

“I still miss PYD … PYD still means a lot to me,” they said. “But I’m excited to have those same feelings for Emerson, and I feel like it’s already kind of starting.” 

Within their time at Emerson, Lome has the goal of getting to know everyone and their perspectives in terms of disability and the intersectional overlap to equity, access, and social justice. 

“I understand that within my work, not everything is going to be done automatically,” they said. “There is a level of … critical, heart-to-heart conversations [needed] to understand how can we collectively process what disability inclusion and accessibility is.”

Lome said having conversations about disability and intersectional inclusivity with students, faculty, and leadership is an important stepping stone to hearing all voices and input on addressing the college’s inclusion. 

While their role requires working with students and campus organizations, Lome said they will have these conversations with students when they are ready.

“I want to provide opportunities [where] we can have these conversations and bring in others,” Lome said. “I don’t want to feel like I’m forcing people in but letting them know like, hey, these conversations are important. But when you’re ready, we’ll get to it.”

Lome lauded Emerson’s current advocacy toward disability and pointed out that students can utilize this movement to prompt action on the Massachusetts “Turning 22” law. As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities or IEPs receive transition services from their public school districts to help them reach independence after high school. IDEA applies to students ages three to 21. The “Turning 22” law removes these services from students once they turn 22, which is detrimental to the social connections they have made, Lome said. 

“[This] is something that I’ve tirelessly tried to work with a lot of my youth on … making sure they knew these connections existed,” they said. “This age group relates to the ages that we see at Emerson within the early 20s bracket and that is huge.” 

Lome acknowledged that they are not an expert on issues concerning disability but rather an “accomplice.” 

“I am not solely an expert in disability,” they said. “In addition to being disabled, that drives my work and how I want to work with other communities looking at intersectional inclusivity.”

When talking about disability, Lome said it is crucial to couple the concepts of race, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities to build up Emerson’s disability and accessibility inclusion.

“It is important that we are bringing in every voice we have and are not ostracizing voices,” they said. “Not everything is going to get done immediately, but we will work together incrementally.” 

Students can fill out Lome’s anonymous questionnaire to share their thoughts on disability and accessibility inclusion at Emerson. 

Note: This story was updated to clarify that Lome’s role was created in partnership with Shaya Gregory Poku and VP and Dean of Students Jim Hoppe. The previous story did not give credit to Hoppe’s role in creating the position.

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About the Contributor
Olivia LeDuc, Assistant News Editor
Olivia LeDuc (she/her) is a journalism student and assistant editor for the campus coverage of The Beacon’s news section. When she’s not reporting, you can find her crocheting or going on yet another long walk in the city.

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