Second annual Disabilities Awareness Week to open conversation on accessibility

Events+for+Disabilities+Awareness+Week+at+the+college+will+begin+on+March+28.+%28Photo+by+Alexis+Ruiz+22+for+The+Lafayette%29

Events for Disabilities Awareness Week at the college will begin on March 28. (Photo by Alexis Ruiz ’22 for The Lafayette)

Bia Brait Amorosino, Staff Writer

Listening to the experiences of those with disabilities is key to making campus a more accessible and inclusive place. Starting next week, members of the Lafayette community will have the opportunity to open their ears and their minds to stories that may have otherwise been left unheard.

From March 28 to April 1, Making Our Society an Inclusive Community’s (MOSAIC) mentoring and companionship team will be holding their second annual Disabilities Awareness Week.

After a virtual debut event last year due to the pandemic, the event team said that they are looking forward to the first in-person Disabilities Awareness Week. The committee of students for the events is comprised of Director Beth Anne Castellano ’22, Assistant Director Alison Maxwell ’22 and members Jordan Mendez ’22, Harshil Bhavsar ‘23 and Alexa Raxenberg ‘24.

“I think that this is going to be a really meaningful week full of insightful conversations and many opportunities to learn, so I hope that people are as excited for it to begin as our team is…Our team has been working very hard to make sure the events are educational and impactful,” Maxwell said.

The week will kick off with a fundraiser for the Miracle League of Northampton County on March 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mojo 516 Cafe. People will be able to donate to the Miracle League by scanning the QR code on posters distributed around campus or by going to the Disabilities Awareness Week website. Later that day, there will be a talk about disability justice hosted by Dear Lafayette at 6 p.m. in room 262 of the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center (RISC).

On March 29, there will be a panel on disabilities and work opportunities at 6 p.m. in room 100 of Hugel discussing career and volunteer opportunities for adults with disabilities. Students will hear from the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) and Learning Enrichment Experiences (LEE) Services. The LVCIL is an organization that helps people with disabilities secure jobs and gain independence. LEE Services provides day programs for people with developmental disabilities.

“One of our main goals is to increase awareness and education on Lafayette’s campus and in the Easton community. We also wanted there to be a space where people with disabilities had a chance to speak,” Maxwell said.

MOSAIC also partnered with Lafayette’s Accessibility Services to plan a training session on March 31 in the Marlo Room. The agenda includes the lessons Accessibility 101 and Best Practices for Coordinating Accessible Events and Materials. Castellano encouraged leaders of campus organizations to attend these events in order to learn how to make their groups more accessible.

“We want to build students’ awareness of how they can be better allies towards those with disabilities in our community. Maybe that’s people in the general community, or students living down the hall from them,” Castellano said.

The week will close out with an open community discussion regarding accessibility on April 1 at 12:15 p.m. in room 320A of Pardee.

Castellano recommended that people enter panels and discussions next week with an open mind and free of preconceived notions about disabilities in order to get a fulfilling experience.

“We thought [Disabilities Awareness Week] would be a good way to educate students by providing educational events and places to reflect on how we can be more accessible and inclusive,” Castellano said.

Students can sign up for next week’s events on OurCampus and the Landis Linktree. Castellano also encouraged people to fill out a survey regarding disability awareness on campus prior to next week’s events.