By Marianne Karwacki, Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK – What do Beethoven, Thomas Edison, Stevie Wonder, Michael J. Fox, Jim Abbott, Itzhak Perlman, Stephen Hawking, Vincent van Gogh, Tom Cruise, Ray Charles and Bethany Hamilton have in common? Besides being well-known historic or contemporary figures that have enhanced the lives of many through their inventions, music, art, writing, acting and other talents, they are also persons with a disability. Current reports from the U.S. Census Bureau estimate that 54 million people in the U.S. have some level of disability.
October is Disability Awareness Month at Penn State, and the theme is “Diversability,” which focuses on the abilities and talents of people with disabilities. Diversability events are intended to promote discussion and exploration of topics related to accessibility, equality and inclusion for people with disabilities. Diversability events are sponsored by Penn State’s Disability Advisory Group, a consortium of individuals from across the University working together to enhance disability initiatives at Penn State.
Some of the events taking place at University Park during Disability Awareness Month include:
— “Perspectives on Intellectual Disabilities,” by Rachel Simon, award-winning author of “Riding the Bus with My Sister” and “The Story of Beautiful Girl,” 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, Auditorium, Lewis Katz Building.
— “Discussing Identity (and disability),” 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, Pollock Commons Recreation Room.
— Hattie Larlham Art Exhibit, featuring art created by individuals with profound disabilities, Monday, Oct. 1 through Thursday, Nov. 29, 7 Sparks Building.
— “Braille Basics,” an interactive demonstration that will allow participants to learn the basics of Braille and write their own message using a slate and stylus, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, 211 West Pattee Library.
— Wheelchair Basketball. Come see basketball played by athletes who play in wheelchairs. All will have a chance to play – a unique experience that will change your view of basketball skills. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, in the White Building Gymnasium.
— “Meeting Your Staffing Needs through a Win-Win Partnership,” noon – 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, 334 James M. Elliott Building.
— “‘Hear” the World: A Snapshot of the Deaf Experience,” Monday, 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 29, 118 Thomas Building.
Penn State students, faculty and staff and interested community members are invited to attend the events taking place during Disability Awareness Month. A schedule with detailed information about all the events is available here.
Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, contact the Office for Disability Services at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY) in advance of your participation or visit.