WCC Shines a Light at Second Annual Disability Awareness Day

What do Justin Timberlake, former President Bill Clinton, and actress Keira Knightley have in common? They are all successful people who have a disability.

Knightley conquered her dyslexia through reading, Timberlake performs at full capacity with his ADHD, and Clinton manages his hearing with the help of bilateral hearing aids. These are just a few people who have learned to thrive with their entire being and that’s what the Disability Awareness event highlighted; everyone can be their best version, no matter what they are facing.

Hosted by Ability of the Community College to Empower Student Access, better known as Club ACCESS, the second annual Disability Awareness Day celebrated and embraced all the differences that people have. The event had photo opportunities, music provided by WARY, sweet treats and had information on assistive technology.

In addition to Club ACCESS and WARY, Veteran Services and the staff of WCC’s Disability Services Department came together to assist in the event. The Vice President of the Veteran’s club, Sonna Rivera, said that the message of the event “hit home” for her.

“No one is lesser for it,” Rivera said. As a veteran, Rivera knows many individuals who have become impaired due to their military careers and found that showing awareness is a key factor in the success of overcoming the obstacles that face both veterans and civilians.

“I think that the world is coming together and making things more accessible for everyone,” said professor Sharon Massey, who assisted with the event and demonstrated the assistive technology.

Indeed, the world is becoming more aware and committed to the issues that face those who have disabilities. But how is WCC handling these issues?

“The number of students registered with the Disability Services Office has been steadily increasing,” Massey said. However, both Massey and Professor Renee Balotti wish to see more students take advantage of the services provided both on and off campus.

“The federally mandated services that we provide levels the playing field for students with disabilities such as testing accommodations, use of assistive technologies, and partnerships with state and federal programs that provide assistance in areas we cannot.” – Sharon Massey, WCC Professor

When speculating why students might not want to get additional help on campus, Balotti said “[students] try to go at it on their own.” When walking on campus for the first time, some students may feel that they need to do things on their own, but this mindset could damage their success in the long run.

Massey explained that the services provided at WCC are for the benefit of students and failing to not take up the opportunity could affect not only their grades, but their careers. With the technology available on campus for WCC students to benefit from, should students forgo the assistance center, it may be harder to claim any disability and gain the needed assistance in the future, be it at the next college they move on to, or a career.

“It really helped me see the bigger picture,” said Lily Whalen who is the President of Club ACCESS. Whalen, who has a learning disability, is a hopeful graduate this semester and attributed some of her success to Club ACCESS and those who advise it.

Students who are living with any disabilities are encouraged to seek out the Disability Services Office, located in the Library, ground level in room G47.

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