The Access & disABILITY Alliance will kick off a celebration of disABILITY Awareness Month in April with a series of workshops, speakers and events.
The celebration marks the seventh year the alliance has put on the events. The group, which is composed of faculty, staff and students, was formed in 2008 with the goal of promoting awareness, sensitivity and a cultural identity to those with disabilities.
“Employing the theme of diverseABILITY, we aim to promote disability awareness and to evoke the relevance of equality in all aspects that pertain to life,” says Dawn Finley, who serves on the committee planning the event. “We want to encourage the idea that a disability should not be seen as a limitation, but rather, signs of perseverance, strength, and determination in accomplishing all life endeavors.”
Shayda Kafai, a lecturer in Ethnic & Women’s Studies, joined the committee last quarter. As a disability studies scholar and a woman with a disability, Kafai says she felt compelled to get involved.
The topic of ableism is not as commonly spoken about as are identities such as race or gender. There are many reasons why this is the case, but one central reason is the fact that our entire society is built for the normative, nondisabled body. Because of this, ableism can seem unwieldy to grapple with, but it’s important to lean into the conversation, even if it is difficult, she says.
“We have such a diverse student population,” Kafai says. “We have so many students with disabilities. disAbility Awareness Month brings visibility to a population that has been rendered invisible due to the institutional ways we discriminate against people with disabilities.”
The event kicks of Friday, April 1 with a screening of the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” on the BRIC Pool Deck.
Workshops throughout the month will cover a range of topics from anxiety some student veterans face to stigmas and stereotypes attributed to people with disabilities to the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding.
This year’s keynote speaker, Tyler Green, will close out the celebration. Green is a disability awareness advocate and co-founder of the “I Am Norm” national campaign.
DisABILITY Awareness Month Events
• Movie Screening: “Silver Linings Playbook” followed by a discussion, Friday, April 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the BRIC Pool Deck. Refreshments will be served.
• “In Our Own Voice” presented by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. People with mental health conditions will share their powerful personal stories and discuss their journey to recovery Monday, April 11 from noon to 1 p.m. in the BSC Orion Suite. Lunch will be provided.
• “The Struggle Within: Understanding the Anxiety of the Student Veteran Experience” will offer faculty and staff an opportunity to learn how anxiety impacts student veterans academically, socially and physically. It also is a unique opportunity to gain tips on how to recognize anxiety and build a toolbox to support the needs of students. The event is on Thursday, April 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the CLA’s Heritage Room on the eighth floor of the tower. Lunch will be provided.
• The “Unpacking Ableism” workshop will explore the stigmas and stereotypes ascribed to folks with disabilities. The event is Friday, April 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the University Library’s fourth floor special events room.
• “Living without Limitations: Life Lessons Learned on My New Journey with Spinal Cord Injury” will feature swimmer Carson Tueller’s inspiring story of recovery and quest for peace, happiness and purpose on Saturday, April 23 from 9 to 10 a.m. in the College of Business 163-1001.
• “Strategies for Teaching and Supporting Students with Autism is a workshop designed for faculty who would like to learn more about effective ways to teach and support students with Autism. Topics will include: understanding Autism, classroom participation and support strategies, and organizational tips for keeping students on track with assignments and deadlines. Sample syllabi and assignment examples will be presented and reviewed. The event is Monday, April 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the BSC Orion Suites. Lunch will be provided.
• “Saddle Up! A Look at Hippotherapy and the Benefits of Therapeutic Riding” is set for Tuesday, April 26 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Arabian Horse Center 29-110. Participants will to learn more about the many benefits of therapeutic riding and hippotherapy, how it works and how to get involved. Pizza will be provided.
• Ability Ally Training is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the BSC Ursa Minor. Ability Allies are a campus network of individuals who take a visible role in promoting disability awareness and supporting persons with disabilities. Seats are limited; Registration is required.
• DisABILITY Awareness Month will conclude with keynote speaker Tyler Green on Thursday, April 28 from noon to 1 p.m. in BSC Ursa Major. Green is a disability awareness advocate and co-founder of the “I Am Norm” national campaign. He is the creative mind behind the short film “I’m Tyler…Don’t be Surprised.”