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March 4, 2003

Disability Week highlights diversity

From: University of Central Oklahoma Vista, OK - 04 Mar 2003

by Jim Epperson III
March 04, 2003

During UCO Disability Awareness Week, experts are hosting events to discuss issues that show the diversity of people with disabilities.

Events have been scheduled from March 2 through March 7 to teach faculty and students about the diversity and number of students with disabilities at UCO, said Dr. Bruce Lochner, director of disability support services.

"We want to raise awareness among the student body that disabilities are a form of diversity such as ethnic diversity, cultural diversity and sexual orientation," Lochner said.

Kimberly Fields, UCO coordinator of disabilities support services said, "We're just trying to make people aware of the myths and facts of people with disabilities."

Among some of the topics, specialists will discuss adaptive technology, deaf and blindness awareness, classroom accommodation and sensitivity training.

On March 4, between 10 a.m. and noon, the general public can attend the Blind Awareness Event, at either Evans Field or the Atrium in Howell Hall, depending on weather conditions, Fields said.

At this event people will be blindfolded and will be led through a maze to show what blind people face everyday, she said. Lectures will be held at 1 and 3 p.m. in the Nigh University Center about rehabilitation services and mental disabilities.

On Wednesday, March 5 students can test their ability to read lips without their normal hearing at the Deaf Awareness Event by wearing earplugs and trying to have a conversation.

"Sometimes people think hearing-impaired people can read everything and we want to give an accurate perception of how well they can read lips," Fields said. .

At 1 p.m. in the University Center, Dr. Barbara Green, chairperson of the department of special services, will be speaking about ways to properly handle seizures in the classroom.

Fields said, years ago people put a spoon in the mouth when someone had a seizure. "This is a myth," she said. "If someone did that today they would break their jaw."

The last maze event will be "Wheeling Over Physical Barriers" between 10 a.m. and noon on Thursday, March 6 at Evans Field. Another maze will be used to show that the minimal requirements passed by Congress in the American's for Disabilities Act are not acceptable.

This 1990 Act regulates things like how steep a wheelchair ramp is or how wide a hallway must be. These requirements are not effective, Fields said.

"Maybe people can see that we should be looking at the minimal requirements and go beyond them."

Fields said the importance of Disability Awareness Week is that 90% of all college students will have someone that is disabled in their lives in the next 20 years, whether it is a father, sister, or brother.

Schedule of Events for Disability Awareness Week

- March 4

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Blindfolding Your Instincts, Evans Field

1:00 p.m. Rehablilitation Services and Higher Ed., NUC Room 300

3:00 Mental Disabilites NUC Room 300

- March 5

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Do You Hear What I Hear?, Evans Field

1:00 p.m. Seizures in the Classroom, NUC Room 300

3:00 p.m. Sensitivity Training For Disabilites, NUC Room 300

- March 6

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Wheeling Over Physical Barriers, Evens Field

1:00 p.m. Driving Independently, NUC Room 300

3:00 p.m. What is a Reasonable Accommodation in Higher Ed?, NUC Room 300

- March 7

1:00 p.m. Interpreting Services and Protocol, NUC Room 300

3:00 p.m. Disability Community, What Are Your Rights?, NUC Room 300

© 2002 The Vista Online