Disability Awareness Week hosts events for students

Tan NguyenCQ, senior in business economics and finance, Brandon KeeslingCQ, junior in industrial technology, and Vincent LinCQ, sophomore in political science and psychology, discussing Disability Awareness Week events. The open house was held at the Student Services building Oct. 13. 2014.

Dakota Carpenter

Disability Awareness Week kicked off Oct. 12 with an open house at the Student Services Building.

Disability Awareness Week is designed to promote awareness of students with disabilities through events and speakers. Students were invited to the open house to learn more about what Disability Awareness Week will look like at Iowa State.

Brandon Keesling, junior in industrial technology, works at the Student Disability Resources Office and said that this week will give faculty, staff and students the opportunity to learn about disabilities within the ISU community.

“[Disabilities are] pretty diverse. It ranges from anything physical to mental and all forms of severity,” Keesling said.

Disability Awareness Week comes from National Disability Employment Month with more of a focus on students because that is who the Student Disabilities Resources Offices serves.

The Student Disability Resources Office has worked to organize a week of events such as the open house.

Steve Moats, director of Student Disability Resources, said events will offer a glimpse into what disabled students experience daily.

“The events of the week are really intended to help people gain more understanding about the diversity of our student population here at Iowa State,” Moats said.

Today students will be able to participate in an event called Step Into My World. This will allow students to experience what it would be like to have a disability.

“No one will ever be able to step into someone else’s shoes but having an experience of being in a wheelchair or a power scooter or using a blindfold to simulate blindness, those are all things that we will do tomorrow in the Step Into My World experience,” Moats said.

The events throughout the week will be open to all students and faculty members, whether they are disabled or not.

Vincent Lin, sophomore in political science, has cerebral palsy. He said that the community of disabled students on campus is a friendly environment.

He feels that it’s best for students to use this week to learn about all the visible disabilities, and those unseen disabilities, around campus.

“It’s different for everybody,” Lin said. “The fact that some people may look like they have disabilities and some people just have a mild version of whatever they have.”

Tan Nguyen, senior in business economics and finance, has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He said this week can help students with disabilities take on the problems they face each day.

“Everyone has their struggle, but eventually we all make it through life,” Nguyen said.

The Student Disability Resources Office offers other resources to students as well. Non-disabled students might look over tasks they can do with ease that students with disabilities may find challenging.

Simple tasks such as walking to and from class, taking tests, finding where to sit in class and being in different social situations can be difficult for a student with a disability.

Lin says that he can walk to his classes, but it takes him some time to arrive. He rides the CyRide to get around campus faster than he could walk.

Lin also tends to take his tests at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center in order to take them in a quiet location.

For Nguyen, social situations can sometimes add stress. With his Asperger’s syndrome, he said he is sometimes shy during social situations. He said he is constantly thinking about if he is acting appropriately for the situation he is in.

“When it comes to hanging out with people I’m really shy because I’m always thinking, ‘Wait. What do I do? Is this normal? Is this what the social situation goes for?’” Nguyen said.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to talk with their professors about their situation so they can be assisted and be successful in their classes.

“You have to be open with your professors and your instructors,” Lin said.

Lin said that once he began talking with his professors about his condition they were all accommodating and were willing to work with him.

Moats said he hopes this week will draw students into the Student Disabilities Resources Office. He also hopes that they will develop an understanding of disabilities.

“We all need to understand that disability and ability are like diversity characteristics, race, gender, sexual preference,” Moats said. “Ability is in the same category.”

Moats said the community is supportive and diverse, and people come in with a variety of experiences and abilities.

“There is a wide spectrum [of disabilities],” Lin said. “We exist and we can do normal life.”