Helping all students succeed

National Disability Awareness Month


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Tutor Josie Knauber helps Emily Long with her homework.

In October, UW-Eau Claire will hold two events recognizing students with disabilities on campus and in the community. October is Disability Awareness Month, and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office will hold a Recognition Awards Ceremony for faculty and staff as well as a forum in the middle of the month said Vicky Thomas, director of Services for Students with Disabilities.

For this event, students who have any kind of disability, but mostly those who have dyslexia, nominate faculty and staff. A student on campus who has dyslexia, for example, can nominate a professor or any other staff member who has worked with them to be successful here on campus with their course work.

Dyslexia can be the reversal of letters or numbers or an inability to recognize a symbol in the same way other people would recognize it. In one example, an individual reading might mistake a ‘P’ for an ‘R’ or a ‘B’ or some other letter in reverse, Thomas said.

For students who have dyslexia, the best solutions to this disability involve voice-over or voice-to-text technology. This technology includes symbols, letters and numbers for not just reading but also for specific subjects like math, Thomas said.

This ceremony is held every October to formally recognize faculty and staff who support and treat students with disabilities in an exceptional manner.

The second event, a forum, is hosted by Kathy Schneider, a former professor at Eau Claire. Schneider has a foundation with the university that sponsors one person every year, Thomas said. The Recognition Awards ceremony will take place this year on Oct. 14, and the forum will occur on Oct. 16.

For the staff and faculty recognition ceremony, the Services for Students with Disabilities Office coordinates the event. For the forum held on Oct. 16, the SSD Office coordinates it, along with the university foundation, Foundation Inc. and the College of Education, Thomas said.

National Disability Awareness Month brings awareness to the people who are hard-working and highly capable individuals who contribute to the community and society on a day-to-day basis, Thomas said. Every year in October the president gives a proclamation to the audience recognizing National Disability Awareness Month, Thomas said.

This month also brings awareness to our campus, the faculty, staff and students by allowing them to realize there are students who have special needs who need a little extra help or some different kind of help, Thomas said. They call this awareness Universal Design, which is to present course topics in a variety of formats in ways to help not just one student learn, but all students.

It shows that October is an important month, said Dr. Audrey Robinson, the program director of the Academic Skills Center.

“Even if you have a disability, such as dyslexia, you are able to succeed here at UW-Eau Claire. We are here to support ways in which students can succeed given any disability,” Robinson said.

National Disability Awareness Month gives everyone on campus and in the community a heightened awareness to the fact that students and people in society do have disabilities, Robinson said.

“We’re able to recognize that students need assistance and that they can be successful even if they have a disability,” Robinson said. “October helps us bring awareness to everyone in the Academic Skills Center who work with students on a whole, that we are constantly aware of being able to promote and help those students succeed.”

On Oct. 14 and 16, students with disabilities should know that they are being recognized not only here on campus, but also throughout the entire United States.