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Day of Disability & Neurodiversity helps build community

A common misunderstanding of diversity is that it’s easy to discern—that because race, gender, and physical disability are often (though not always) accompanied by physical qualities we can see, most diversity is something immediately visible or discernible. But you can’t always tell what sort of household a person was raised in, what their first language was, or even where they were born.  

It is also very difficult to tell—just by looking—if a person possesses a neurodivergent trait. As Johns Hopkins University explains, “it’s easy to get caught up in the physical manifestation of diversity, but one of the core principles of diversity and inclusion is that there is more to a person than how they appear to others. By limiting the conversation to skin-deep qualities, we tend to inadvertently shut out an entire group of disadvantaged individuals: the neurodivergent.” 

Last year’s Day of Disability & Neurodiversity emphasized steps and best practices or tools the campus could use to promote accessibility and inclusivity in classes, campus events, web content and more. This year, that discussion continues as the Day of Disability & Neurodiversity, held on November 30th again brings together some of the school’s leaders in universal instructional design and resources for promoting accessibility. The keynote address on November 30 at noon will be delivered by Zebadiah Hall, vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and the former director of Student Disability Services at Cornell University.  

A second event, entitled “Celebrating & Navigating Neurodiversity @ the U” will also be offered on at 4 p.m. This panel will be moderated by Learning Experience Designer, Audra Carlisle of the Martha Bradley Center for Teaching Excellence and feature Sherrá Watkins, PhD, associate vice president for Student Health & Wellness at the U; Jackie Warner, assistant director of the Center for Career Success at Thomas Jefferson University; and Jane Price, instructional designer in the U’s College of Nursing. Both events are virtual. 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion host the Day of Disability & Neurodiversity, in partnership with the Center for Disability and Access , Disability Studies, and the Universal Design and Access Committee recognizes the year-round importance of promoting understanding and inclusivity on campus and facilitating discussions on ways to improve access for all. The Disability Collective, an affinity group for disabled faculty, staff, and graduate students and their allies, has also recently been created at the U. 

“It’s important for students to know there are resources on campus and they aren’t alone. Our office is here to provide support to students and certainly we are part of the health and wellness division of student affairs,” said Christine Anderson, director of the U of U’s Center for Disability & Access. “We’re connected with the university counseling center, the center for campus wellness, campus recreation, and student health. We all work together to support students.” 

To learn more about these events and register, please visit the EDI events calendar, or the Day of Disability & Neurodiversity webpage.