The significance of disability awareness supports the principle of, if a person knows better, they do better. October is Disability Awareness Month and acknowledges people with disabilities and their contributions to society, while fighting discrimination and recognizing their needs and rights.
Disability Awareness Month began in October 1945 as a weeklong observation and was extended to a month in 1988. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it was an attempt to integrate people with disabilities into every aspect of life while working to advance freedoms at work, in schools and throughout communities.
College presents a variety of different challenges, but it can be even more difficult for students with disabilities. For that reason, the Florida A&M University Center for Disability Access and Resources is available to lend a hand. The center is comprehensive about the needs and challenges of people with disabilities.
Danette Saylor, who serves as the center’s director said they are committed to improving the environment and society on behalf of students with disabilities.
“I just want everyone to know we are here, and we have a multitude of resources, just come in,” Saylor said.
Saylor also said the center is enthusiastic about making sure students become aware and involved. She said the center is on campus to empower students, whether they have a learning or physical disability.
The center is not aware ofincoming students’ disabilities, so they encourage students with disabilities to take advantage of what they have to offer.
“If you have a disability do not be confounded by it, instead use to as liberation to go beyond your limitations,” Saylor said.
Some students have expressed interest in helping the center. Debraca Russell, is one such student.
Russell, 28, volunteers as a notetaker for students with disabilities. She said she believes it is the least she could do to help.
“We should help each other because no one can accomplish anything alone, and it is the right thing to do,” said Russell, a senior from Boynton Beach.
There are a lot of ways for students to get involved in disability awareness. The CeDar Center has volunteer opportunities available for students to earn Rattler hours and would like to encourage students to get more active. In that respect, the center is sponsoring a disability advocate group. The first meeting will be held Thursday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m., in the CeDar Center.
Saylor said the group is for everyone.
“The group will work to promote and empower people with disabilities and also offer training on professional development,” she said.
While becoming involved during Disability Awareness Month is important for some students, disability awareness is something that some individuals feel should be spread beyond October.
For more information about CeDar Center disability advocate program, visit the CeDar Center at 667 Ardelia Court, behind the Continued Education Building.