During this pandemic crisis, the Accessibility and Disability Resource office partnered with the Testing Center to find ways to celebrate this week
The Office of Accessibility and Disability Resource (ADR) is partnering with the Testing Center to celebrate Disability Awareness Week online as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread. ADR aims at informing and providing resources to those living with disabilities.
According to ADR Director Carmen Varela, this year’s Disability Awareness Week celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Disability Awareness Act. Varela believes this week is important so disabled students know they are valued and that the APU community understands the value of the students and their contribution.
Although all in person events are canceled due to the coronavirus, it was important to the ADR office to celebrate disabilities this week.
“Especially because of COVID-19, the work that we are doing is particularly important in the way that we are doing it,” Valera said.
ADR hopes their response to COVID-19 will provide a guide for faculty about how they can implement accommodations for disabled students in online classrooms.
“In times like these, times of crisis and pandemic, [it] is typically the marginalized communities that end up getting impacted the most,” Valera said.
On Wednesday, ADR compiled a video library of personal stories told by people with disabilities called “Put Yourself in My Shoes.” The stories covered a range of disabilities with a link to disability resources and information.
Another event entitled “Empowerment” was held on Thursday, where ADR wanted to appreciate disabled employees.
Valera sees the work that she does in education as a way to reduce poverty in our community.
“The work that we do in our office is the day to day working with students and staff, but [it] is really much bigger than that,” Valera said. “This is about affecting individual people’s lives outside once they leave APU, and we all live in this world together.”
Valera questions how individuals can make a difference, even in small ways. Valera aims to reframe the conversation and perspectives toward those with disabilities.
The topic of disability hits close to home for ADR Accommodation Specialist Kaylin Morfrod, who lives with a chronic illness called Crohn’s disease. As an undergraduate student at APU, Morfrod needed accommodations. According to her, Disability Awareness Week is very close to her heart.
Prior to coming to APU, Morfrod had no idea that there were other students with disabilities who felt alone like her. Getting to know others with disabilities at APU gave her the passion to work with people with disabilities after she graduated.
“People with disabilities have incredible stories to share and offer [a] unique perspective to the way our campus is or the way education is, has made me rethink the way I look at life,” Morford said. “Doing awareness events is very important because it can impact students, faculty and staff in different ways of how we so often look at the world from an enabled body perspective.”
Although Valera does not have a disability herself, she does have two adult sons with disabilities. According to Valera, raising sons showed her how injustice can be directed toward disabled individuals at an early age, particularly when it comes to inclusion in public schools.
“This is deeply personal and soon becomes our purpose in life,” Valera said. “This has kept me motivated of how do I make this a better place for my sons, how do I make this a better place for other people like my sons and others with different disabilities as well.”
Having these awareness events gives us the time to step back and think about how we can make our community a more inclusive place. Those suffering with disabilities can find resources available in the ADR office, or by contacting them through Instagram.