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University of Mississippi Hosts Sixth Annual Disability Awareness Month

10985298_803617936353564_5518467242317166885_n-3The University of Mississippi is holding its sixth annual Disability History and Awareness Month, which is a series of events that aim to de-stigmatize the aspects of disability.

The month kicked off with the “What I Want You To Know” panel which allowed students to talk about personal experiences with disabilities. The Director of Student Disability Services, Stacey Reycraft, said this event allowed the audience to understand what it is like living with disability.

“We get a group students from campus who have different kinds of disabilities together and they talk about their experiences on a personal and educational level,” Reycraft said. “It’s just a great way for them to get their voice out there and for the community to see disability from a personal perspective.”

This is just one of several inclusive events happening this month on the Ole Miss campus before the Student Disability Services’ Open House on April 26, at Martindale Hall. According to Reycraft, the SDS Open House is an annual get together of faculty and staff to show the adaptive technologies in SDS’ computer lab and to give out Access Awards.

The awards go to “faculty and staff who go out of their way to help [students with disabilities], and who best employ the aspect of universal design of instruction,” Reycraft said.

12671866_993486000700089_9194201133849390112_o-3This year’s event marks the addition of a student award as well. Students with disabilities nominated friends or peers who were particularly helpful towards inclusion on campus.

As a past recipient of the honor, Julie Anderson of the mathematics department said she has accommodated for students with disabilities numerous times.

“I’ve had several deaf students. Of course, they have their deaf interpreter, but we also make sure they can read my lips, and I make sure I speak towards them,” Anderson said.

Another common form of helping disabled students in a classroom setting is volunteer note-taking, according to Reycraft. Any student who feels as if they are good at taking notes can contact Student Disability Services to volunteer.

What can the average person do to help? That’s simple Reycraft said, “You don’t have to treat them differently. You don’t have to expect different things from them. You just treat them like people like you do with anybody else.”

Quinton Smith is an intern with hottytoddy.com, and is a student at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Quinton can be reached atqosmith@go.olemiss.edu.

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