International Day of Persons with Disabilities Day promotes accessibility and education at FHSU

BY RAEGAN NEUFELD

Last Friday, Student Engagement, along with the Student Health and Wellness Center, hosted an educational event for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“We wanted to describe what disabilities are and how you can have full control on campus if you have a disability,” Alyxius Torres said.

In order to do this, participants of the event played a game of Kahoot that quizzed them on different celebrities, professionals, and activists that have disabilities. There were also questions about famous accessibility accommodations. For example, one question was about Gallaudet University, which is a school for deaf students, as well as hearing students who wish to become sign language interpreters. Another question asked participants about the first book that was released in braille at the same time of its standard release. According to the Kahoot, it was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Quiz questions were broken up by questions for the panel of speakers. The speakers featured at the event were Will Fried, a graduate assistant in Student Accessibility Services, and Jessica Albin, a case manager for Health and Wellness Services. Questions for the panel dealt with issues such as inclusion at Fort Hays, and how college and society, in general, can be made more accessible for those with different disabilities.

One of the points made by the panel was that accessibility is not just limited to a picture of a wheelchair on parking spaces or bathrooms. Learning, sensory, mental and learning comprehension disabilities must be accommodated for too. These types of disabilities are considered invisible because they are often not recognizable right away. According to Kahoot, 92% of disabilities are in fact invisible. 

This type of education is exactly what Student Engagement was hoping to achieve.

“Education is key,” Torres said. “We need more knowledgeable and open-minded people in order to maintain a safe campus. We’re teaching the respect of others, even if you can’t see their disability, and to never judge somebody because you never know what that person is going through.”

Participants also got the chance to make sensory crafts. These crafts were bottles filled with water and glue, decorated with glitter, beads, food coloring, and other fillings.

According to Torres, Student Engagement hopes to make this an annual event.

“I feel like doing it every year will get more people interested in the event, and make a safe environment on campus.”  

The event educated participants, but just as importantly, it was also a way to spread awareness.

“Even though disabilities have been talked about, they still have the same stigma as mental health, where people don’t talk about it,” Torres said. “If you have something different than the “norm,” then that’s bad, so reaching out and doing this event helps people break from that stigma.”

For more information about disabilities and accessibility, contact the Health and Wellness Services in the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success.

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