The Other Side of Disabilities
The Office for Students with Disabilities
Division of Student Affairs
Volume IV, Issue 3 April-May 2003 Editor: James Walborn
On April 9th the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) on the Boca campus honored their student volunteers with a recognition luncheon. The event had a Fourth of July barbecue picnic theme, including delicious food, complimentary table gifts, raffle prizes, and live music provided by Venancio. The audience of 110 heard speeches by OSD Director Nicole Rokos, Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Leslie Bates, and from several students who shared their prose and poetry in appreciation of the volunteers. The event was organized by a committee of students with disabilities, and co-chaired by OSD Counselor Barbara Bazinsky and Assistant Director Sue Mills. “It’s great to see that volunteering is so infectious,” Sue compliments. “Some of the students who receive their class notes from volunteer notetakers, give back by tutoring other students.” The event was funded by the SGA.
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DISABILITY AWARENESS DAY
On April 8th the OSD invited everyone to participate in Disability Awareness Day on the Davie campus. Festivities included free food, a rock climbing wall, and inspirational speaker Mark Wellman. Despite being paralyzed from the waist down, Mark has climbed over 50 mountain peaks.
“Mark has a passion for what he does and was a tremendous inspiration for the enthusiastic crowd,” states visually impaired OSD student Vera Mosley, who climbed the rock face. “Making it to the top wasn’t just for me. It was for all of the people who cheered me on to climb heights I never would have thought possible prior to today. I had faith in them telling me where to place my hands and feet, and they had faith in my ability to meet this challenge,” Vera explains. “It was quite a workout as you could really feel it in your upper body. But, it was a wonderful experience; you’re really touched in a positive way.”
Vera, an advocate for several disability-rights organizations, credits OSD Associate Director Amy Schwartz Parker: “If it wasn’t for Amy encouraging me to attend, I would never have gotten the chance to experience this unique opportunity for growth.”
GOLDEN KEY GIFT
We would like to thank the Golden Key International Honour Society and its treasurer, Mamunur Rahman, for presenting the OSD Director, Nicole Rokos, with a generous donation of $100. Last year the OSD used the Society’s donation to purchase Natural Point computer software, a hands-free tracking system for the on-screen mouse that is controlled by movements of the user's head.
The OSD would like to congratulate all of the hard working FAU students who have earned the honor of graduating during the 2002-2003 academic year. The interesting stories of two OSD students who will graduate in May are included in this newsletter.
Michael Tahash is graduating FAU Magna Cum Laude and is a member of the Golden Key International honour society. Besides earning a Bachelor’s degree in History, he has earned a certificate in Classical Studies and is the winner of the Traci Jill Edelman award for 2002-2003.
Michael has Bi-polar schizoaffective disorder, which greatly impacts his ability to concentrate and handle stress. He does not drive, and is dependent upon others for transportation. He requires the assistance of volunteer notetakers for in-class notes. He has had to learn how to break projects down into smaller, more manageable tasks due to his inability to remained focused for any length of time. His speech is also affected, although he has developed his own innovative way of handling this. He attributes his ability to cope in life to his strong faith in God.
"Although a lot of people are unaware of the significance of a psychological disability, I’m glad my professors at FAU worked with me,” Michael states. He hopes to obtain a Master’s Degree in History.
Likes: “I like going to church and reading the bible. I also enjoy science fiction and playing computer games,” Michael asserts.
Dislikes: “Some of what is passing for rock music these days,” Michael notes.
Anything unusual in the fridge? “No, not that I know of,” Michael concludes.
Andy Anderson, a FAU student who survived cancer twelve years ago, is graduating FAU this May with his baccalaureate degree in Social Psychology. In 1991, his doctors successfully removed a cancerous grade- four brain tumor the size of a jumbo egg, but they speculated that he would only live another five months. The risky surgery and radiation treatments left him with diminishing vision, and having hypersensitive hearing, smell, and touch. “I have a sporadic memory that’s not always available when I’m ready for it,” Andy notes. “My thought processes are slowed down, and I can hear and smell things that are blocks away. If I touch ice it burns me.”
Andy talks to groups, and actively counsels others dealing with the emotional problems associated with cancer. “I should be dead right now, but God wasn’t ready for me yet,” he philosophizes, good-naturedly.
Likes: Watch tv, go bowling, shoot pool.
Dislikes: Cigarette smoke and ignorance in people. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. That’s the most important thing that I can tell people,” Andy expounds. “When you judge somebody just because of what their appearance is on the outside you miss out on a lot of the good stuff inside.”
Anything unusual in the refrigerator: “Organic foods; they taste better to me.”
On April 16th, OSD Director Nicole Rokos received the Distinguished Service Award, and Graduate Assistant Shelley Green received the Outstanding Student Employee Award at the Student Affairs Awards Ceremony. Well done Nicole and Shelley.
The Assistive Technology Educational Network (ATEN) now has an demonstration lab at FAU in the Communications Disorders Clinic in the Education building, room 454. ATEN assists in the enhancement of K through 12 students by providing them, their parents, or other professionals information, training, and technical support in the area of assistive technology as well as augmentative communications systems. The lab features practical hands-on exploration of assistive devices and software.
The lab is open daily and is staffed by Graduate Assistants from the communications Disorders and Exceptional Student Education curriculums. For more information about the ATEN lab contact Speech Language Pathologist Barbara Fries at (561( 297-1063.
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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.