Annual function recognizes disabilities

Month long discussion series illuminates hardships, disorders

By Michael Santone, Advocate Staff

October is national Disability Employment Awareness Month, and in honor of it the Library and Learning Resource Center, along with faculty and staff, will be screening its annual disability awareness film series which highlights and details six different disabilities in an open forum of question and discussion.

The series will run all month long in LLRC-107 (it started Tuesday) and includes seven films which focus on delusional disorder, autism, blindness, female veterans, and ethnically diverse students with learning disabilities.

The films aim to answer questions  including what is a disability, how do they affect our lives and our interactions with each other, and how do people who are disabled view themselves?

Librarian Megan Kinney, who is leading the organizational efforts, said she sent out an e-mail in the middle of September asking for volunteers who would like to be moderators. This job includes choosing the film and leading a 15-minute discussion afterward.

She said, “We are creating a comfortable place to have safe conversation.”

Kinney will also be the moderator on Oct. 13 for the film “Lives Worth Living,” which is an oral history of key figures who have fought for equal rights, access and opportunity for the disabled.

She said, “People can become disabled at any time in their lives, and even temporarily. (The film series) is to make it a lot easier to discuss hard topics.”

During the spring 2016 there were a total of 356 students who were registered for Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) on campus.

Their goal is to provide students with learning, physical and/or psychological disabilities with access to vocational and educational programs and opportunities.

DSPS counselor Ruth Gorman said there has been a rise in students with autism enrolling.

She said, “It is important to educate and support students and faculty to advance understanding various disabilities through film and discussion.”

Gorman said she tries to present a different disability each year.

This year she will be closing out the series on Oct. 27 with the film titled “Oops, Wrong Planet,” which explores the world of autism.

English professor Lucinda Ray said she has been a part of the series for about four years.

This year Ray will be the moderator on Oct. 24 for the film “A Place in the World: Adults with Autism Finding Their Way,” which follows two adults with autism who enjoy the support of their parents, life coaches and others.

Ray said, “I believe it’s important for the college community to develop awareness for the rich variety of human abilities, and to be sensitive to the ways we can be welcoming and accommodating to all.”

The film series also includes “So You’re Going Crazy: Living with a Delusional Disorder,” which details the hallucinations and disturbing situations the director’s own delusional disorder causes.

“A Culture Undiscovered: The Impact of Learning Disabilities on Racially and Ethnically Diverse Students” this Tuesday will discuss topics such as cultural values, stereotypes and the positive steps students can take.

The film “We Also Dance” will be shown on Oct. 17.

It follows five blind dancers who introduce viewers to their world of dance.