Speaker series educates on disability awareness on campus

Mason Carroll

College is a difficult time in any student’s life, but for those struggling with a physical or learning disability, it can be that much more challenging.

To combat this, the Texas Center for Disability Studies has partnered with the Steve Hicks School of Social Work to host the Disability Awareness Speaker Series in accordance with National Disability Employment Awareness month.

“We all learn differently,” School of Nursing professor Tracie Harrison said during the series Monday. “We don’t fit one particular mold, and if we overlook that fact, we can overlook some really great people and some really wonderful accomplishments.

According to the Texas Center for Disability Studies website, the center works to create a better world for people with disabilities through research, education, practice and policy. Zaccheus Ahonle, School of Social Work assistant professor, said disabilities awareness is important because of its widespread impact.

“For many of us, the question if not whether we will have a disability or have a family member, relative or friend with a disability, but ‘when,’” Ahonle said in an email. “Most people would either have a disability at birth or acquire a disability as a result of aging or life changing events like an accident or illness.”

Throughout the month, the School of Social Work will be hosting seminars for the Disability Awareness Series from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays.

Ahonle said people with disabilities are underrepresented in the workforce but are a diverse and talented group.

“Talent has no boundaries,” Ahonle said in an email. “Because you have a disability does not mean that you lack talent or that your ability goes away. Disability is just an aspect of an individual with a disability.”

Students across campus came out for the session like social work graduate student Zully Guerra, who works with children with disabilities and has seen her father struggle with disabilities related to colon cancer.

“I just wanted to learn more about how I can help spread the word, especially among populations who are not so familiar with disability,” Guerra said.

It’s important to get students with disabilities the resources they need to succeed, Harrison said.

“What’s important is learning what they need to learn and doing their best,” Harrison said. “Putting the other stuff behind them … and get what you need to do your best in this environment.”