One billion people worldwide live with a disability, according to the World Health Organization.
The inclusion of and respect for people with disabilities, comfort during social interactions and overall awareness of disability issues were points of focus at The Ability Exhibit, hosted by the Department of Diversity and Inclusion on Nov. 5 in the Young Ballroom.
“I love that Tech gave this opportunity for students to come and see this exhibit,” said Malia Hernandez, a freshman rehabilitation sciences major from Van Buren.
The exhibit was developed by Saint Louis University graduate students in a disability in higher education and society course. Using a self-guided, multimedia approach, the exhibit uses ten interactive stations designed to build awareness about people with disabilities to encourage students to become a disability ally and educator.
The Person-First Language Station promotes the person first, then the disability. Using this methodology allows students to show respect and avoid labels.
“Language: The things that we say every day, just realizing what you say and how it affects someone, was really the most impactful for me,” Becky Gray, director of Health Services, said.
The Quiz Yourself Station had an “Ability IQ,” which used computer quizzes to test a student’s knowledge about disability facts, celebrities with disabilities, disability law and appropriate communication techniques.
Another station was the Space Rope Station. By having students hold onto one end of the Space Rope, they experienced the communication distances used by people who are blind and have low vision.
Knots on the Space Rope indicate the distance between two people. When used in pairs, the Space Rope helped simulate the appropriate distance between two individuals for public or personal space.
The Who Do You Know with Disabilities Station allowed students to indicate if they knew someone with a disability, which gave them the opportunity to notice how many people, including themselves, are already disability allies.
The exhibit also brought forth many statistics about learning disabilities because they are often “silent” or “hidden” disabilities that affect millions of people and often get overlooked. Many of the facts emphasized the importance of not only educating the public about people with disabilities but the disability movement as a whole in the United States.
“Its something everyone can benefit from no matter how much you think you know about disabilities,” said Kristy Davis, associate dean for Student Wellness and a sponsor for the event.
Evolving from a class project into a traveling exhibit, Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit debuted at Saint Louis University on October 27, 2010. The Ability Exhibit received national recognition at the 2011 ACPA College Student Educators International Convention and has toured colleges throughout the United States ever since.
For more information about the exhibit, go online to www.slu.edu/school-of-education-home/allies-for-inclusion-the-ability-exhibit or email the Ability Institute’s assistant director, Alisha Abbott, at email@example.com. For more information about Diversity and Inclusion, go online to www.atu. edu/diversity/.