Monday, April 07, 2008

Disability Awareness Week kicks off

By Courtney Westlake

This week marks Disability Awareness Week at UIS. From a wheelchair race to presentations on assistive technology, advocacy and accessible fitness equipment, the events are all focused on raising awareness about disabilities.

Disability Awareness Week kicked off on Monday morning with the annual Youth Transition Fair in the Public Affairs Center concourse. The fair provided an opportunity for students, families, school staff and service providers to learn more about planning the transition to life as a young adult.

"We've had some parents come by and UIS students come by who didn't realize we have a disability services office on campus, and we've had groups from various schools from around the county and in town," said Suzanne Woods, director of Disability Services at UIS. "It's all different agencies that have services for kids as they transition from high school to college."

This is the 11th year that Disability Awareness Week has been held on campus, and the first year it's been held in conjunction with SpringFest. Woods advised anyone with any questions or concerns to contact the Office of Disability Services at UIS and encouraged the whole campus community to come out and enjoy the events planned for the week. (To read more about the events, go here.)

"We have a comedian, Color Me Blind, Model Me Blind, a wheelchair race and an open house on Friday," Woods said. "What we want people to realize is that disability is the only minority you can join at any minute. I'm not going to wake up male tomorrow, I'm not going to wake up African-American, but I could wake up with a disability due to an accident or illness."

Disability Awareness Week is important at UIS, Woods said, to give people a better insight into the lives of those living with a disability.

"It's important because a lot of people don't know much about disabilities. One out of every five Americans has a disability of some kind," she said. "This is really to bring awareness to people about the challenges of people with disabilities but also the successes they have."