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March 17, 2003

Awareness, education are goals of disabilities events

Page of text as it might look to a reader with dyslexia.
by Anne Krapfl
Iowa State will revive an annual disabilities awareness event later this month with three days of talks and hands-on experiences March 25-27.

The purpose of Disabilities Awareness Week is twofold, said Bea Awoniyi, Disability Resources manager and member of the University Committee on Disabilities. The first is education.

"I think one of the big reasons people shy away from others with apparent disabilities is not that they're unwilling to help, but that they don't know how to respond," she said. "So, we hope we can help people become aware that there are so many students with disabilities, including hidden ones, and that there are appropriate and helpful ways they can respond to specific disabilities."

Awoniyi said the other message is that accommodating students with disabilities is a shared responsibility of the campus community, not just the staff members in her office.

Disabilities include some easily apparent ones, such as blindness or mobility that requires use of a wheelchair. They also include the less obvious ones, such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, psychological disabilities, autism, dyslexia or the lasting effects of a brain injury.

"Step into My World," a program that assigns campus volunteers a disability for part of the day, is the main component of Disabilities Awareness Week. Awoniyi hopes to recruit about a dozen faculty and staff for this exercise and early volunteers include Provost Ben Allen, vice provost Howard Shapiro, associate provost Alicia Carriquiry and accounting associate professor Marv Bouillon. Students also will participate in Step into My World. Faculty and staff who would like to take part may contact Awoniyi, 4-6624, or email her at

"Our promise is that we can work with anyone's schedule during those days," she said. "However, we choose your disability. People with disabilities don't get to choose theirs, after all."

Participants in Step into My World will wear light blue T-shirts during their campus experience to help promote awareness of disabilities.

Disabilities Awareness Week
"Building Bridges to Better Understanding"
March 25-27, 4-6624

Tuesday, March 25
  • Throughout the day: Step into My World experiences (around campus and in selected classrooms).
  • All day, Disabilities reference exhibit, near reference desk, Parks Library.
  • 11-11:15 a.m., Declaration, Alicia Carriquiry, ISU associate provost, free speech zone, The Hub.
Wednesday, March 26
  • Throughout the day: Step into My World experiences, see March 25.
  • All day, Disabilities reference exhibit, see March 25.
  • 3:30-5 p.m., Video and panel discussion, Building the Team: Faculty, Staff and Students Working Together, ISU students with disabilities, Pioneer Room, Memorial Union.Thursday, March 27
    • All day, Disabilities reference exhibit, see March 25.
    • 3:30-5 p.m., Closing event, includes Step into My World participants sharing experiences of the week, and one participant reading from and answering questions about altered text that simulates dyslexia; and keynote speech, Sandy Tigges, Orientation Center, Iowa Department for the Blind, 2245 Coover.

... Becoming the Best
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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