Disability awareness has increased in the more than thirty years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and greater attention is now focused on issues of accessibility and inclusion in public spaces, including workplaces and classrooms. Additionally, the neurodiversity movement has brought a more thoughtful—and less stigmatized—focus to the different ways people have of learning, thinking, and interacting with the world. But despite this progress, barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination still exist for those living with disability—and much more must be done to promote understanding and eliminate restrictions to access.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. live with a disability, and these numbers increase as people get older. Many people have predetermined notions about what constitutes disability—and many of these ideas involve conditions that are unambiguous and noticeable, such as those that require the use of prosthetics, crutches or a cane, or a wheelchair. But a great many disabilities are invisible or nonapparent, and for individuals who live with these conditions—the fact that the public doesn’t recognize them can make their challenges even more acute.
On college campuses in particular, hidden disabilities can be very difficult to navigate. Conditions that affect the way we process information, learn, concentrate, and think can be much harder for others to detect—especially if they’re unfamiliar and don’t know what to look for. As Hannah Mundinger, a fourth-year double-major in Psychology, and Health, Society, and Policy, as well as the co-founder and president of the student organization, Chronically Us notes, “being disabled in higher ed is terribly isolating.” This is why experts emphasize the need to promote understanding around disability and neurodiversity—and stress that there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, understanding, or behaving that works for everyone. For students living with disability in the learning environment of a university, resources that make it possible for them to access educational materials and basic living needs—such as transportation, food, and restrooms—can make the difference between success and greater struggle.
The University of Utah will host its first Day of Disability and Neurodiversity this December 1, featuring two important campus events to promote greater understanding and improved accessibility. Both events are being made available virtually—and everyone is invited to register at the links provided below.
Making it accessible: Actions for accessible events, Presentations, social media, and basic web design
Thursday, December 1, 2022: 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. MT (Zoom)
*ASL interpreters provided
“Making it Accessible” will highlight best practices for fostering accessibility across a number of platforms. This event is ideal for faculty, staff, or students involved in communication, designing web content, social media posting, delivering presentations or lectures, and/or event planning who would like to make their practices more accessible.
Campus experiences of disability, neurodiversity, and ableism
Thursday, December 1, 2022: 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. MT (Zoom)
*ASL interpreters provided (please indicate your preference on the event registration)
“Campus Experiences of Disability, Neurodiversity, and Ableism” will be a student-led roundtable and networking session intended to encourage disabled, chronically ill, and/or neurodivergent students and their allies to think about, examine, and discuss their experiences at the U.