Understanding disability: Event highlights solidarity

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

October is Disability Awareness Month, and as the month comes closer, Student Disability Services and the Disability Services Club (DSC) here at SLU set up an exhibit to kick it all off. Students and faculty lined up to venture into the Allies of Inclusion exhibit in the BSC Tuesday. There were a variety of activities that got participants involved and informed them of often-overlooked information about various disabilities.

The definition of a disability is considered to be any physical, or mental condition that limits a person’s typical movements, senses or activities throughout the day. The Allies of Inclusion exhibit, however, wouldn’t have been founded if it weren’t for the help of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which prevented any form of discrimination towards individuals with any sort of disability, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. Morgan Elliott, the president of the DSC, stated, “the purpose of this exhibit is to educate people on the effort the ADA has put into making things universally accessible to people with disabilities.” Since the exhibit was open to all students and faculty, Elliott’s main goal simply was to inform the public of the impact that a disability can have, on the person who has it, their family and friends, and on us as a nation.

One of the activities was the “I Know Someone” activity, which asked students to place a stone into one of two glass jars. Students who either had a disability or knew someone they considered to be disabled would walk up to the corresponding jar to place a stone in it. By the end of the day, every stone had been placed in one jar or the other.

Another activity presented several celebrities with disabilities. Famous celebrities such as actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and Stephen Hawking who suffers from a form of ALS, were displayed on a large billboard for everyone to see.

Freshman Katie Younge said that she appreciated the fact that the DSC was promoting a “positive awareness of this topic that most of society usually believes is irrelevant.” She said that “before the exhibit [she] didn’t realize how inaccessible most buildings are. Mobility seems to be something that is taken for granted.

Elliott understands the fact that much of campus, prior to the initiation of the ADA, was not universally accessible. “Something as simple as [turning] a door knob is really hard for people … who have some sort of physical condition,” said Dr. Karla Scott, a communication professor who specializes in diversity and culture. “You never really know how intimidating stairs are until you are on crutches or in a wheel chair.” Most of SLU’s campus is accessible for people with disabilities, but further projects are being implemented to help students, faculty, staff and the general public move around the campus with more ease.

The exhibit also provided a variety of other activities in which students could participate. Boards were set up with pictures of people with different disabilities explaining how others see them, as opposed to their actual condition. Students showed a positive attitude when participating or watching films about athletes with disabilities, or listening to people’s stories about how they live with disabilities. The exhibit is supposed to return next year, as are all the other events that the DSC has planned for this semester.