By CALEB COMBS
Students and staff are invited to attend and participate in several events and demonstrations coordinated for the month of October in honor of EKU’s annual Disabilities Awareness Month.
Nationally, October has been designated as the month to raise awareness for disabilities in America. Citizens with disabilities face challenges every day that can prove to be extremely difficult.
According to its mission statement, the Office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OSID) is dedicated “to ensure that all students, faculty and staff with disabilities at Eastern Kentucky University are provided equal access to the campus at large; including work and educational environments, the physical campus and access to university related programs and activities.”
Andrew Tinsley, chair of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Accessibility Awareness Committee, is in charge of planning and coordinating disability-related events for the month.
“Individuals with disabilities are all around, functioning in the same way as those without. It can be very difficult and challenging to complete certain things and it’s our job on the committee to make sure people are aware of what we do and how important it is that accommodations are made,” Tinsley said.
Library resources on ADA accessibility will be showcased in the Main Library for the entire month so that students and staff can be better informed about disability accommodation. In addition to the showcasing, there are several events including lectures and demonstrations throughout the month. The ADA Accessibility Awareness Committee has worked in association with the Chautauqua lecture series to invite motivational speaker, author, and filmmaker, Mark Wellman to Eastern.
Wellman will demonstrate adaptive climbing equipment in the Fitness and Wellness Center from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and then conduct the Chautauqua lecture in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building entitled: “Climbing back: No limits to the Beauty of the Outdoors” at 7:30 p.m., on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Jon Shumate, 21, junior criminal justice major from Ross, Ohio, identifies with the disabilities office as a student with dyslexia.
“Out of every university I looked at, while transitioning from high school to college, Eastern had the most to offer in terms of accommodation, but for some reason they didn’t have the recognition or accreditation as the others,” Shumate said.
Eastern’s OSID manages several different programs and accommodations from project SUCCESS, a two week emersion program that brings high-school students with disabilities onto campus for a crash course, and outreach programs that sent two transition specialists around to 51 different counties in Kentucky.
Eastern’s OSID manages several different programs and accommodations including Project SUCCESS, a program that outlines a plan to graduate and offers tutoring, focus groups and other disability tools like note-taking devices and electronic books.
“There are over 600 students that self-identify with the office here, which means that they come in on their own accord to access our services,” said Teresa Belluscio, director of the disabilities office, Project SUCCESS and Co-Chair of the ADA taskforce. “We really strive to be the best, working here is fantastic; best job anyone could ever have; this month should reflect our work.”
Other events scheduled for October include Disabilities Awareness day on Powell Corner with informational booths and wheelchair mobility demonstrations between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.