The Other Side of Disabilities
The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs
VolumeIX, Issue 2, April-May 2008, Editor: James Walborn
VOLUNTEER BANQUET A SUCCESS!
On April 3rd, the Boca OSD thanked the 437 students who signed up to volunteer to assist students with disabilities during the current year, and for those who might volunteer in the future. Many of the volunteers are notetakers who have provided copies of their classroom notes to students whose disabilities do not allow them to accurately take their own notes. The volunteers saved FAU $260,000 this academic year.
Mardi Gras was chosen as the theme to honor the FAU championship football season and New Orleans Bowl victory. The event was sponsored by the Owls Supporting Diversity Club, and funded by the SGA. Many thanks goes to Chartwells for the food, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind Jazz Band for the entertainment, and Michelle Shaw and her artistic crew for all of their dedicated work in providing an enjoyable banquet. Speakers included Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Brown, Coach Schnellenberger, OSD employee Jim Walborn, and four students. Guests included 16 Miami-area blind high school students.
On April 24th volunteers on the Jupiter Campus were honored with a banquet in a genteel, intimate setting in a bistro style. Talented OSD student, Len B, charmed guests with jazz from his melodious saxophone, and several students shared their thoughts with everyone.
Melissa H dined at a restaurant which is named for a popular area sports star with her friends. Because the tables at this establishment were so high they were not accessible to her while seated in her wheelchair. While her friends sat at the high table, she had to use a chair as a table. She sent a letter explaining the dilemma to the sports star and enclosed a picture of the situation her friend had taken. In the letter she told the athlete, “If you want me to stand while attending your restaurant you’ll need to help me get a standing wheelchair.” Through his manager, the star responded that he was mortified that the restaurants he lent his name to were not accessible and that the necessary architectural modifications would be made to them. Furthermore, he decided that he liked the idea of providing her with a wheelchair which would allow her to stand and has agreed to help her obtain one. This type of wheelchair, called the iBOT, can be operated while standing upright, can travel over sand and snow, but would cost around $26,100. Kudos to Melissa for “standing” for her rights, and for the sports star for his assistance and the cooperation of the establishments named for him in making them accessible.
BROWARD ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
The Broward Achievement Awards Ceremony was held April 4th. Three OSD students were honored: Georgia L and Marissa H were co-winners of the disability award and Vera M won the volunteer award.
SGA LEADERSHIP AWARDS
On April 18th the SGA Leadership Awards Ceremony was held in which the Owls Supporting Diversity Club won the New Club of the Year Award. Congratulations to all of the Club members for their hard work in spreading disability awareness to the FAU community.
STUDENT AFFAIRS AWARDS
On Wednesday, April 16th the Student Affairs Awards Ceremony took place in which two OSD employees were recognized. OSD Assistant Director, Lynn Gil, was awarded the Karl F. Ijams Humanitarian Award, as she nurtures, supports, and encourages students and colleagues. She is a member of the FAU ADA Accessibility Committee and regularly brings the accessibility needs of the students. She is truly dedicated to nurturing students to achieve the greatest levels of their potential and become productive members of the FAU community.
OSD Coordinator, Barbara Bazinsky, was presented the Crest Award, as she consistently exemplifies the spirit of Student Affairs through service to and concern for FAU students. She has worked tirelessly with a non-profit group on campus, Stand Among Friends, to write and implement a grant for a new employment program for students with disabilities who graduate from FAU.
The OSD would like to congratulate all students, including those with disabilities, who are graduating this spring. Here are two of their interesting stories.
Angel R is graduating FAU this May with his BS in Electrical Engineering. He has a condition known as Jarcho-Levin syndrome, a rare genetic disorder in which the trunk of his body is undersized. His lungs only have half the capacity of others, and his neck and backbone are fused together. He is 4' 10", and must utilize his waist to turn his body.
Angel’s credo is “Never be afraid to pursue something that you want.” The DMV told him he’d never drive. “They road tested me three times longer than normal but I earned my license.” The doctors predicted that he wouldn’t live to be a year old, however, “I’m 30 now,” Angel states with a smile. “There are a lot of people out there who are scared, who don’t know what they can do. I tell them to just do it.” He inspires people in English, Spanish, and sign language.
He is a client of the GATE (Graduate Access To Employment) Program with Stand Among Friends personnel, who helped him obtain State Vocational Rehabilitation assistance as well as employment leads in the electrical engineering field.
Angel often asks himself, “How can I do this?” Since his lung capacity is limited he allows himself more travel time between classes. Because his head and neck are fused slightly to the right, he has to sit on the right side of the classroom to compensate. He discovered that he could not wear backpacks so now he pulls a bookbag on wheels (donated to him by a FAU employee). At his work he had to figure out how to operate a piece of equipment, given his limitations. He says, “Don’t give up - there’s always a solution.”
Anything unusual in the refrigerator: “I keep my cookies in there instead of on the counter.”
Jeff W is graduating FAU this spring earning his Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. Although born hard-of-hearing, he explains, "My parents chose to raise me no different than my hearing brother and used a Total Communications method to help me in my education. I am fluent in English and American Sign Language. My hearing loss is degenerative and continues to deteriorate, although it’s stable for now."
"At first it was very difficult to accept that someday I may lose all of my hearing," Jeff acknowledges. "I have since come to embrace it and use it to educate others and I've grown a sense of humor about it, which puts others at ease when we speak as well. Currently, I have a profound level hearing loss."
"I hope to be hired by the League for the Hard of Hearing in Oakland Park after I graduate, where I currently am doing my internship," Jeff explains. "I hope to start working with their after school program as their new Case Manager in late May. Eventually I may go for my Masters Degree in Social Work with a focus in Family & Child Welfare, but for now I plan to take a break [from school]. I hope to work with the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Community and be a role model, proving that being deaf should not stand in your way of what you want to be."
Jeff gives a lot of credit to his family and friends. "My parents have taught me to be independent and to stand strong in the face of adversity. They were always there for support. My big brother always had time to talk with me when I needed him, and taught me to burp like a champ (what are brothers for?). The neighbors and friends that I grew up with have always made me feel welcome and I never had an excuse to feel left out. I love you all!"
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This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca: SU 133; phone 561.297.3880, TTY 561.297.0358. Davie: MD I, Room 104; phone 954.236.1222, TTY 954.236.1146. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.