Interactive and informative

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[Photo by Katie Weeks ‘16] Blair Gallante ‘15 and Paige Hart ‘16 attend the exhibit.

Rachel Robertson

The ability exhibit raises awareness for students with disabilities

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are explored in an interactive exhibit held this week in Farinon.

As Lafayette’s first full-time disabilities coordinator, Rebecca Brenner brought Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit to the school to raise awareness for the rising number of students with disclosed disabilities.

The exhibit featured stations that included informative videos and slideshows, quizzes on celebrities with disabilities and disability law, demonstrations on assistive technology pens and resources on Universal Design ideas to make learning more accessible to students with disabilities.

One section featured posters with removable panels that instructed attendees on how to refer to people with disabilities. The posters stressed the “Person First” language that “promotes the person first and then the disability.” For example, one poster proclaimed, “I am not mentally retarded. I am a person with a developmental disability.”

“It accomplished the goal. If you left there even knowing the correct language to use, that’s great,” said Keven Lugo ’16, a member of the event’s planning committee.

The exhibit started at St. Louis University, where its popularity resulted in the creation of two traveling exhibits, according to Brenner. With stops already planned for Lehigh last week and Muhlenberg next week, Brenner was able to bring the exhibit to Lafayette with the financial assistance of the Jim Cosgrove ‘86 family.

“I’ve been trying to get more awareness of disabilities at Lafayette College for awhile,” Brenner said. “I thought this would be a very good opportunity to do that.”

Roughly 10 percent of higher education students report a least one disability, according to “Students with Disabilities in Higher Education: A review of the literature.” At Lafayette, around 180 students have disclosed a disability to the school and the numbers have been increasing in recent years, Brenner said.

“It doesn’t really get spoken about,” Lugo said. “It’s not in the front of people’s mind.”

“There never has been enough awareness of disabilities at Lafayette,” Brenner said. “We are slowly raising awareness and the getting the word out and also serving the students that need it…I thought it was a very nice next step for Lafayette to help continue raise awareness.”

Brenner said that feedback from students, faculty and staff has been very positive.

“With the faculty I’ve been trying to get them to come just for the Universal Design to show that we don’t have to single students out,” Brenner said. “You can teach in ways… [so students] don’t have to ask for accommodations.”

When asked what the exhibit brought to the Lafayette campus, Brenner said, “Solidarity and acceptance. Acceptance and inclusion.”