Students can get a glimpse of what life is like with a disability this week by participating in activities planned for Disability Awareness Week.
The Associated Students Commission on Disability Access (CODA) has organized a series of events this week to inform the general public about everyday physical and social barriers faced by individuals with disabilities. Junior political science major Ali Sprott, vice chair of CODA, said each day will focus on a different disability or impairment, with daytime activities in the Arbor geared toward interactive learning and nighttime events that address issues concerning people with disabilities.
“A lot of the negative attitudes toward people with disabilities is, just like so many other things, due to ignorance,” Sprott said.
Sprott said she hopes people who attend the events will gain a new understanding of people with physical disabilities.
Undeclared freshman Sam Marks, CODA public relations officer, is helping run the wheelchair activities that incorporate Tuesday’s mobility impairment theme. Marks, who is mobility-impaired and uses a wheelchair, has planned an obstacle course that will involve students performing everyday tasks, such as crossing a bikepath, that are made difficult with a wheelchair.
“I think it’s important to … make the students aware of issues we face on campus, issues we face every day,” Marks said.
Marks is also involved in the adaptive sports night that takes place Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Pavilion Gym in the RecCen. Wheelchair basketball and beepball, a game for individuals with visual impairments, will be played. People without disabilities will have the opportunity to observe and participate in the adaptive sports as well.
Rick van Horn is the is the coordinator of the Adapted Recreation Program at UCSB, a new program which aims to incorporate wheelchair basketball and other adaptive sports into some of the school’s recreational activities. The school recently received a $75,000 endowment from the Santa Barbara Bialis Family Foundation to establish this program and create more opportunities for students with disabilities, van Horn said.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Advisory Committee is an administrative group on campus in charge of physically accommodating the campus’ disabled students, and is also providing CODA with $5,000 to fund activities for Disability Awareness Week, Sprott said.
Chris Hannah, a graduate student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, is a member of the ADA Advisory Committee as well as of CODA. He said CODA is grateful to the committee for giving it the funding and the opportunity to engage students with disabilities within the community, Hannah said.
“My hope is that all the people who are influenced by the events we’re holding will just get more in touch with what connects us all,” Hannah said. “That the differences that we all have will become common. Difference is common, and difference is essentially human.”