“Stop Dissing My Ability” was created by Alyssa Pickens and Chloe Velasquez, co-presidents of Advocacy (for) Access, Action, Adaption. This organization’s mission is to “advocate for accessibility on UNCG’s campus and to educate, through group discussions and activities, students, staff and faculty about various disabilities including topics such as misconceptions, misinformation and adaptive technology.”
The event was first created this past May because, “we wanted an event for those who do not have a voice, to have a voice,” said co-presidents Pickens and Velasquez.
The student panelists at “Stop Dissing My Ability” in the School of Education Building on Thursday, Oct. 25 shared experiences related to their physical or learning disabilities. Throughout life, all people- specifically college students- should be mindful that a peer in college with a disability should be given the same respect as their fellow able-bodied peers.
Making the step to succeed in college can be hard for any student. Deterring or mocking another student because of a disability they have should not occur. Learning more about a person and their goals is a better way to approach any situation.
All groups and organizations at UNCG have a role and had a reason to be founded. Pickens and Velasquez shared that, “the purpose of [the] Stop Dissing my Ability panel is to bring awareness that there are students on campus with disabilities and to end the stigma of physical, mental and invisible disabilities.” Though physical disabilities can be more apparent, mental and invisible disabilities might not be, making any person appear as though they have no disability from the outside.
A student with a learning disability might need assistance from the Office of Accessibility and Services on campus who “provide appropriate academic accommodations for disabilities”. Students are able to complete their exams in an environment that feels comfortable to them.
A student with an invisible disability might have physical limitations as to how they get around campus. They might not be able to walk up the steps, and may have to take an elevator in certain buildings. The student’s peers should be mindful that they are not taking advantage of situations, and realize that some students have to use other modes of accessibility to get around.
It was apparent that students on the panel were calling for an update in regards to accessibility on campus. Although there are ramps, some of the handicap buttons do not always work, and the braille on signs have been worn away. As the school continues to grow, the accessibility for any student’s temporary or long-term needs should develop as well.
A personal and inspiring story highlights the meaning behind this event. “I, an able-bodied person, was not aware of certain things that people with disabilities go through until I worked with children with autism, then [when I became] best friends and roommates with Alyssa, who has a physical disability,” said Velasquez.
Students who were unable to attend this event should be on the lookout for Advocacy (for) Access, Action, Adaption events, such as a second part to the panel that occurred last week. They are also hoping to plan an inclusive yoga for all students, as well as other people with disabilities. Another event they will have is “Walk a Mile in my Disability.”
“Able-bodied students can walk around campus with students who have a disability, and go to certain spots in a certain amount of time by taking the ‘longer routes’ or the routes that students who have physical disabilities have to use. The goal of ‘Walk a Mile in my Disability’ is to illustrate for students who are not as aware of what it is like to have a disability,” stated Pickens and Velasquez.
It is never too late to experience life from someone else’s perspective, especially when they have a lot of compelling and powerful goals they are in the works of achieving.