Disability Awareness Week celebrates ‘diverse tapestry’

disability awareness

disability awarenessEnlightening conversations and strategies for increasing inclusion will take place on the Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus during Disability Awareness Week, beginning Oct. 28.

Activities and presentations include a debate, documentary viewing, concert and interactive technology demonstrations.

Matthew Wangeman, disability studies instructor, spearheaded this year’s events and will host an open discussion with John McDermott, project associate with the Institute for Human Development.

“Disability is far too often overlooked as part of diversity,” Wangeman said. “At NAU we are trying to highlight that disability is a natural part of life and it is not a tragedy. In fact, the diversity that disability brings to the world is a good thing and should be celebrated along with other minority groups.”

Wangeman said people with disabilities represent the largest minority group in the world, and they want to have access to the same opportunities as anyone else to reach their full potential.

“It is often the attitudes of other people that truly limits what people with disabilities can become,” Wangeman said. “As with many other minority groups who are often misunderstood and face prejudice and discrimination, the disability community just wants to be celebrated for what disability brings to the diverse tapestry of the universe.”

This year’s Disability Awareness events, free and open to the public, are:

Film Screening: Vectors of Autism
5:30 p.m.  Monday, Oct. 28
Meadows Room, du Bois Center
A screening of the documentary will be followed by a discussion with Laura Nagle, who is featured in the film.

Panel Discussion: What is True Inclusion?
4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29
Kaibab Room, University Union
Presented by the NAU Speech and Debate Team and offering an informative panel discussion focusing on media representation, educational access, treatment within the medical field, and an exploration of viable forms of inclusion for all people.

Lecture: The Heart of Inclusive Programming
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29
Kaibab Room, University Union
Presented by Chris Lanterman, senior lecturer for the College of Education, Wangeman and Rob Young, graduate assistant for the College of Education. Participants will learn strategies for including members of diverse populations and how inclusion not only benefits fellow students, faculty and staff but also benefits you and your organization.

A Conversation about Disability: Everything you Always Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask
7:30 to 8: 30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29
Lounge (old Starbucks location), University Union
Presenters Wangeman and McDermott will host a conversation on disability and caution attendees that “irony will be used.”

Assistive Technology Open House
4:45 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
Institute for Human Development, bldg. 27A
See the latest devices and meet vendors from a variety of companies offering products that support vision, hearing, communication, computer access and activities for daily life.

Folk Concert
6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
Ashurst Hall
Bernice Lewis, who teaches songwriting at Williams College and Colorado College, will intersperse her performance with students sharing stories about their experiences with disability and diversity.

Students, staff and faculty also are invited to view the Disability History Timeline display on display in the Institute for Human Development during Disability Awareness month.

Student advisory boards NAU 4 All and Tash@NAU, the Speech and Debate Team, Disability Resources, the Commission on Disability Access and Design, the College of Education, Student Life and the Institute for Human Development organized the events.