The Other Side of Disabilities
The Office for Students with Disabilities
Division of Student Affairs
Volume IV, Issue 6 Autumm 2003 Editor: James Walborn
The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) would like to introduce Jayne Rotman, the new OSD Assistant Director. Jayne has a degree in Special Education from the University of Cincinnati and has an extensive amount of experience working with both children and adults with disabilities. For the last seven years she has worked as the Disability Services Counselor for Broward Community College, Central Campus, Davie.
Likes: “I like to read, play golf, and spend time with my children.” She volunteers her time with charities and is an American Cancer Society “Reach to Recovery” volunteer. A breast cancer survivor, Jayne talks with patients prior to and post surgery. She is also involved with many community activities.
Dislikes: “I hate it when people misuse handicap parking places,” she fumes.
Reflections: “Students continue their education for a variety of reasons. While many students do well in their studies, there are some who would benefit by receiving better career counseling prior to attending.”
Anything unusual in the refridgerator? “A lot of open white space as I don’t cook anymore. My husband and I have a new rule in which the first person home does the cooking, so maybe I’ll end up finding something unusual in there after all.”
OUR GUINEA PIG
Courtney Gale is a Communications major who is deaf and also has a visual impairment. She is the first FAU student to take advantage of C-Print as a notetaking option. Here she describes her experiences:
I have been using the C-print set up for the past few months. It has helped me absorb more of the class discussions and get a more well-rounded feeling of the classroom atmosphere.
The C-print set up is not complicated. There is one captionist and two laptops that connect to each other via wireless link. My captionist, OSD Sign Language Interpreter and C-Print trainee, Naomi Clifford, types the professor’s lecture and class discussion on one computer, it comes up on the other one in front of me. The captionist-to-student chat box is also very useful if I have a question that I need to ask only to Naomi. In addition, the C-print program comes with a feature in which the student can enter his or her own notes along with the ones being typed.
If you are hopeless with signing [American Sign Language] (guilty) and find no acceptable notetakers, this is for you. I find it an improvement over the alternatives and recommend it to anyone willing to check it out.
Note: To read more about C-Print check out the article in our June-July 2003 issue on our web site at www.fau.edu/osd/OSD Newsletters.php.
Professor Allen Gimbel teaches Contemporary Classical Music on the Jupiter campus. He writes about contemporary music for American Record Guide, and hosts the show "Music Now" on WXEL-FM. Allen has multiple sclerosis (MS) which has gradually disabled him over the past 15 years, confining him to a wheelchair which he moves through a device he manipulates with his chin.
“I was a musician for as long as I can remember. I was a pianist and started studying
music seriously in high school, where I developed interests in classical music. That's where I began composing,” Allen reflects.
Allen earned his bachelor's degree from Eastman School of Music, then earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at the Juilliard School, in composition. He has taught at SUNY at Albany and Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. He won the Young Teacher of the Year Award in 1990.
“I was diagnosed with MS soon after my appointment [to Lawrence], in 1988,” Allen states. “I used a scooter from about 1991 and drove around in a modified Dodge Caravan. I was a paraplegic at that time, and was able to take care of most of my needs. My arms went in 1998, hence my retirement.”
“I am someone who has a deep commitment to my art form, and a wish to share its riches and problems with any interested party,” Allen philosophizes. “I've tried to downplay the disability for most of these years, but I now see that's not necessarily the best approach (if there is a best approach). I can't say it has affected my perspective as a teacher, other than obvious issues such as writing on a blackboard.“
Likes: “My other interests include film and baseball. I used to have a pretty serious food interest, but that has become impossible to pursue,” Allen notes.
Any final thoughts? “Some issues regarding serious disabilities are difficult to shine a pleasant light upon,” Allen concludes, “but, life, and art, must go forward."
By Lauren Rosenberg
Do you wish your life was a perfect utopia? For most people the answer to that question would be “of course,” but, all the wishing in the world will not make it so. It is true that we, as human beings, learn that no one's life is without problems or road blocks to overcome. But, sometimes we simply forget that everyone has a challenge that they must get up and face everyday.
I have heard people with “hidden” disabilities say that their lives would be better if their disability were visible because they would be better treated and better understood. There
are instances where that may be true but for the most part I disagree. They say that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it is this very statement that separates us from being able to try to come to an understanding of someone else's road blocks.
When having a disability which is highly visible, people do tend to come to your aid right away. The problem with that is sometimes they don't allow you enough time to do something yourself and if you say something to them they can often feel that you are trying to be rude. The reverse is also true for those with “hidden” disabilities; those who need help may find it harder to get it, and feel misunderstood.
Speaking as someone who has cerebral palsy I can honestly say the hardest part for me is the way people can treat me as if I am from another planet. Some may talk to my friend about me as if I’m not in the room, while others converse with me in baby talk. Then, there are those that just stare.
It is easy for a person with a visible disability to say, “I wish that no one would be able to see this because then they would treat me like a human instead of an alien from outer space.”
The important thing to remember is that there are at least two sides to every situation. No matter what the obstacle is, whether it can be seen or not so easily seen, each person comes with areas in life to overcome. No one is better or worse then another.
Everyone's disability is different, but every disability comes with its own set of difficulties. If we can understand that, we can understand each other and we can have empathy for one another.
We want to encourage comments and contributions from our readers. Please address any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. It is available on the web at www.fau.edu/osd.
This Newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca Campus: Library Room 175; phone (561) 297-3880, TTY (561) 297-0358. Davie Campus: Mod I, Room 104; phone (954) 236-1222, TTY (954) 236-1146