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Melanie P. Thornton

Melanie P. Thornton

Coord. Access/Equity Outreach


(PART)-Partners for Inclusive Communities

Phone: 479-575-3208

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Melanie Thornton is the Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach at University of Arkansas Partners for Inclusive Communities. She provides professional development on topics related to leadership, disability, diversity, and design. She is very interested in working with organizations to create more accessible environments and to reframe perspectives of disability as an aspect of diversity. Prior to coming to the U of A, Melanie was the Associate Director of the Disability Resource Center and the Director of Project PACE at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She also has 8 years of experience working as a counselor with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. Melanie earned her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Gallaudet University and her bachelor's degree in psychology from Hendrix College. Melanie enjoys writing, spending time with her partner, hiking in the woods that surround her in Arkansas, and playing with her dog, Haley.

  • Disabiity, access and design
  • Digital access
  • Leadership
  • Diversity and inclusion

B.A. Psychology, Hendrix College
M.A. Counseling, Gallaudet University


Anderson, G. & Thornton, M. P.  (1993) Unresolved issues in providing mental health services to persons who are deaf.  In O. Welch (Ed.) Research and Practice in Deafness:  Current Issues in Education, Psychology and Vocational Rehabilitation, Springfield, IL:  Charles Thomas Publisher.

Thornton, M. & Downs, S. (2010). Walking the talk: Modeling social model and universal design in the disabilities office. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 23 (1), pp. 72 - 78.

Winningham, A.; Gore-Felton, C.; Galletly, C.; Seal, D.; and Thornton, M. (2008).  Lessons learned from more than two decades of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts:  Implications for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. American Annals of the Deaf, 153 (1), pp. 48 – 54.


  • Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach, Partners for Inclusive Communities, University of Arkansas, April 2018 to present
  • Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach, UA CURRENTS, University of Arkansas, September 2016 to April 2018
  • Leadership Development Facilitator/Trainer, UA CURRENTS, University of Arkansas, February 2012 to September 2016
  • Board of Directors, Arkansas Advisory Board for Interpreters between Hearing Individuals and Individuals who are Deaf, Deafblind, Hard of Hearing and Oral Deaf, Board of Directors, 2013 to 2015
  • Independent Consultant, PEPNet, August 2012 to present
  • Associate Director, Disability Resource Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock—2008 to February 2012
  • Curriculum Developer/Trainer, Project ShIFT, Lane County Community College, Eugene, Oregon—2008 to present
  • Director, Project PACE, University of Arkansas at Little Rock—2001 to 2010
  • Independent Consultant, Assistive Technology-BC, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada—October 2006 and June 2007
  • Outreach Specialist, Project PACE/PEPNet, University of Arkansas at Little Rock—2000 to 2001
  • Adjunct Instructor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock—1998
  • Park Interpreter, Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, Scott, Arkansas—1995 to 2000
  • Adjunct Instructor, University of Arkansas Research and Training Center for Persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Little Rock—1992 to 1996
  • Counselor, Arkansas Rehabilitation Services, Hot Springs and Little Rock—1987 to 1995


  • Arkansas Association on Higher Education and Disability, 2019 Social Justice Award.
  • AHEAD Honor of Meritorious Contribution
  • Arkansas Associate of the Deaf, 2015 Gloria Wright Award.
  • Arkansas Association on Higher Education and Disability, 2014 Social Justice Award.
  • Association on Higher Education and Disability, 2012 Diversity Award.
  • Arkansas Chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, 2011 Arkansas Distinguished Advocate Award.
  • Association on Higher Education and Disability, 2008 Distinguished Professional Award.
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2007 Staff Achievement Award.    
  • Arkansas Association of the Deaf, 2005 Special Recognition Award.    
  • American College Personnel Association, 2001 Runner-Up for Outstanding Student Affairs-Faculty Collaboration for Project PACE.    
  • Director’s Commendation for Exemplary Service to Arkansas State Parks, April, 2000.     
  • Southeast Museums Conference 1999 Design Competition, Silver Award for Mounds of Knowledge: A Teacher’s Guide to Visiting Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park.     
  • National Association for Interpretation, Region VI, 1999 Best Workshop Award for Intentional Interpretation:  Planting Seeds of Change.      
  • Walter G. Ross Award, 1987, Gallaudet University.  
  • Margaret E. Fitch Award in Psychology, 1984, Hendrix College.