Speaker asks for access, awareness

Doctoral candidate asks WSU to increase research, make classes accessible


EZEKIEL NELSON | The Daily Evergreen

Graduate student Nigel Joseph, left, leads a workshop about creating life goals, overcoming obstacles and planning to handle limitations at the Disability Awareness Symposium in the Cultural Center.

ANGELICA RELENTE, Evergreen editor-in-chief

Presenters in the Disability Awareness Symposium urged the WSU campus and participants to be more aware of misconceptions of students with disabilities and accommodate students when they can.

Davi Kallman, a doctoral candidate for the Murrow College of Communication, spoke about why disability matters, common disability stereotypes and ableism in academia and media. Kallman is advocating for representations of disability research, as well as supporting those with disabilities inside and outside the classroom.

“People are not disabled by their conditions,” Kallman said. “They are disabled by these institutional barriers that are set in place.”

Kallman said one way to help students with disabilities in classrooms is to make presentations and power points more viewable. She said it is crucial to have funding for disability research. In addition, it would be helpful to find collaborators in different departments in order to grow intersectional research, she said.

In his workshop, “Accepting Limitations to Hone Greatness,” Nigel Joseph, an Apparel Merchandising, Designs and Textiles graduate student, focused on deconstructing negative attitudes and actions in order to reach a personal or professional goal.

Joseph is a three-time NCAA qualifier in 400M Hurdles and a four-time Canadian Senior National Medalist. He has a learning disability that affects his ability to process information. This impacts his memory, which in turn affects his speed, organization, reading and writing. He didn’t discover his disability until he went to a university, he said.

Joseph said it is important to understand oneself and find useful resources like the Access Center. It helped him fit in, he said, but not in a confined structure.

“Awareness is a first step for acceptance,” Joseph said. “You can be blue, green, yellow, 6 foot 8 to 3 foot 9 — everyone wants to feel like they have a place to belong.”

Luci Loera, assistant vice-president of the Office for Access, Equity and Achievement, said the symposium is one of the events that has been discussed for a while and needed to happen. She said she admires the theme, “Bringing Disabilities to the Table,” because it invites people to be a part of the discussion.

“I think that’s really what these two days [are] about,” Loera said, “to pause, to do the work, to think about and to invite others in the conversation.”

Loera hoped that people will take the risk, ask questions and be open to interrupting their own assumptions.

“When we talk about diversity,” Loera said, “we have to be really intentional about bringing disabilities into that conversation.”

The symposium will have more events throughout the day.