‘Changing Perspectives’ event to bring global disability awareness


Pearson Hall will host “Changing Perspectives,” an event to raise awareness for physical disabilities out on by International Student Council.

Mary Pautsch

What makes people different should be celebrated, not diminished, according to Iowa State’s International Student Council (ISC). 

ISC’s Humanitarian Awareness Committee will bring this statement to life at its “Changing Perspectives” event, a night for students to experience what it is like to be physically disabled in hope of bringing more awareness to how people are affected by it worldwide.

“It’s not just something that’s here in the U.S.,” said Hannah Ridzuan, vice president of ISC. “We have more outreach within the international community than other ISU groups, so we wanted to use that to our advantage.”

“Changing Perspectives” will be an informative and interactive event, Ridzuan said. It will include a series of activities where groups will be led from room to room, completing tasks that lead to clues. The clues will be used to fill in the blanks of a sentence given to each group that makes a statement about disability awareness. The first team to complete its sentence wins.

Each task will be a simulation of what it would be like to live with certain disabilities. For example, in one room, participants will learn how to identify letters in Braille and then need to complete a game of hangman using only Braille while blindfolded to obtain their clue.

Chidiebere Uguru, member of the Humanitarian Awareness Committee, said that having the hands-on experience will hopefully make the message sink in for participants.

“It’s not only lectures,” Uguru said. “The activities make it more effective. It sticks a lot more in your brain that way.”

A reflection session will take place at the end of the event for those in attendance to ask questions and discuss anything they have learned from the activities. Ridzuan said the session is meant to be an open forum where people will not have to be afraid to ask questions they may find awkward or potentially offensive.

“Encounters with disabled people may be awkward for some people if they don’t have experience with that,” she said. “For example, if you see a handicapped person fall, you might not know if you should help or not because you don’t know if that’s undermining their independence. But here, we want to be able to provide answers.”

Ridzuan and Uguru also said the event is meant to focus on the strengths disabled people possess.

“A person might not have a lot of physical strength due to their disability but have more emotional strength than you or me, for example,” Ridzuan said. “That’s what we want to focus on.”

“They’re just like us,” Uguru added. “Different normality between people is good. We just need to know what it is.”

Student Disability Services aided ISC in creating the event to ensure that the activities were designed respectfully and appropriately. It also has offered to provide any assistance to students with disabilities who participate in the event.

Students who wish to participate in Changing Perspectives can register on ISC’s Facebook page. Participants can either form their own group or be assigned to a group by the Humanitarian Awareness Committee. Students can also register at the event if space is still available.

The event will start at 4:30 p.m. Friday in 1106 Pearson Hall and last until 7 p.m.