DisAbility Awareness Month starts tonight

Meghan Bogardus

Student Accessibility Services says events will celebrate ability

Often, when one thinks of a person with a disability, the image of someone in a wheelchair comes to mind.

Though this is what Amy Quillin, associate director of Student Accessibility Services, calls the “universal sign” of disability, Student Accessibility Services’ disAbility Awareness Month focuses on much more.

“The idea is to raise awareness of all types of disabilities,” Quillin said.

Quillin said the theme of October’s events is that people of all abilities can do anything.

The opening event, “Enter the Dance” by the Verlezza Dance Ensemble, embodies this.

Assistant dance professor Barbara Verlezza and her husband started the ensemble, which performs at 7 p.m. today and features performers in wheelchairs.

Quillin saw it as a fitting way to kick off a month of celebrating ability, rather than disability.

“It’s a great way to demonstrate that people of all abilities can ‘enter the dance,'” she said.

DisAbility Awareness Month events also include a presentation by Kent State alum Norbert “Nobby” Lewandowski about some of his personal challenges, as well as a deaf awareness event in which deaf students share their stories.

Quillin said SAS has once again partnered with Recreational Services for the Race for Ability that will be held before the Bowman Cup Race on Oct. 10.

One of the most popular events is the Assistive Technology Fair, a showcase of advances in assistive technology, which will be held Oct. 19.

“People come away from (the Assistive Technology Fair) in awe,” Quillin said.

Mollie Miller, the adaptive technology coordinator for Student Accessibility Services, also organized the event. She said the fair often shows the previous boundaries between what was adaptive technology and what was for the “mainstream” population have blurred.

“It’s important to educate the community that adaptive technology isn’t just for students with disabilities,” Miller said.

She said some of the computer programs that type as a person talks, previously used for people with limited mobility, have become popular in the fields of law, education and medicine.

One of the new devices many people have not seen is a Smartpen, which was not really considered assistive technology, but Miller said it could be very useful to many students of SAS.

She said the pen can record audio from lectures and can take pictures of the notes and read them back.

Miller said this and other cutting-edge technology will be demonstrated at the fair.

The final event of disAbility Awareness Month will be a video presentation about Josh Sundquist, a cancer survivor, amputee and comedian.

After the video, Quillin said there will be a live question-and-answer session with Sundquist via Skype.

Quillin said she hopes the events of the month will show the community that disability doesn’t limit what a person can do.

Contact student affairs reporter Meghan Bogardus at [email protected].

DisAbility Awareness Month Events

Sept. 30

Verlezza Dance Ensemble’s “Enter the Dance” at 7 p.m. in Stump Theater

Oct. 6

Norbert “Nobby” Lewandowski at 7 p.m. in the Cartwright Auditorium

Oct. 10

Race for Ability Walk & Roll at

8 a.m. at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center

Oct. 15

Deaf awareness event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the balcony ballroom of the Student Center

Oct. 19

Assistive Technology Fair from

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the ground floor of DeWeese Health Center

Oct. 28

Josh Sundquist at 7 p.m. in the Cartwright Auditorium