Students discuss disabilities, coping mechanisms in Disability Advocacy Student Coalition forum

Claire Allbright

Seven students with disabilities had the opportunity to discuss their disability and share coping mechanisms they use to manage them during a forum hosted by the Disability Advocacy Student Coalition.

The speakers facilitated discussions ranging from sight and hearing impairments to mobility issues and cognitive disorders.

Special education senior Adina Goldfin-Wald serves as the Vice President of DASC and disclosed her experience coping with Attention Deficit Disorder and a reading comprehension disorder.

“I have learned over my four years at UT various tricks and tools and strategies that help me get by,” Goldfin-Wald said. “I make jewelry on the weekends so I have something to play with in the exams.” 

Goldfin-Wald said that in addition to DASC serving as a community for disabled students, they work with the office of Services for Students with Disabilities to get classroom accommodations.

“What we do is basically advocate for those who might not necessarily be able to advocate for themselves,” Goldfin-Wald said.

Robin Orlowski, active member of Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s committee for people with disabilities, served this advocacy function by reporting on the meeting in hopes of better representing the interests and needs of the disabled community in the city of Austin.

Social work senior Jonathan Franks works to pass legislation for equal pay in the workplace and improve accessible course work for blind students on campus.  

“There is various legislation out there, but a lot of schools don’t honor that,” Franks said.

Franks is a transfer student to UT and has been blind for nine years. Franks said he is using his disability as a tool to teach society and improve equality for all students.   

“We’re all the same — we just have different levels of experience,“ Franks said. “Taking tests is a lot different than when I had sight back in high school. It’s completely different, but it’s been a great experience.”

Eden Stone, vice president of DASC and psychology senior, said before the event that the purpose was to raise awareness about what it is like to be a college student on campus with a disability.

“We’re hoping that other people who show up maybe share disabilities with some of the other members and can relate [to] those things and learn about those things,” Stone said. “Maybe they can figure out different ways to deal with it that they hadn’t thought about before.”