From 1997 to 2008, the number of students with learning disabilities grew dramatically, meaning that the newest generation of college students has a higher number of disabled students. Through the college application process, it has been found that students tend to hide their disabilities in order to have a better chance of being accepted, and the University of San Francisco is trying to fight that tendency.
This upcoming week, Student Disability Services (SDS), in conjunction with Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE) and the Cultural Centers will be putting together multiple events for Disability Awareness Week from April 11 to April 14. These events are not only to raise awareness for students who have disabilities, but also to raise students’ awareness of the services that SDS and CAPS offer, so they are better able to use those services.
Andrea Mozqueda, a graduate student working with the Wellness Center, highlights the importance of disability awareness. “Disability Awareness Week is created to educate the university community about mental health, learning disabilities and invisible disabilities. Student Disability Services strives to make a positive impact on disability awareness by bringing the whole community together,” Mozqueda said.
The American Disability Association and SDS define someone with a disability as a “person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” This covers a wide range of disabilities, including learning disabilities, speech and language disabilities and physical disabilities, all of which SDS helps accommodate.
Student Disability Services are available for a variety of different reasons providing a wide range of resources, including accommodations, referrals and assistance with temporary disabilities. Alexandra Sciarappa, a disability specialist for SDS, said, “Even though we have different backgrounds and specialties we see the full spectrum of students with disabilities.” An evaluation is available online for any student looking for assistance and the office can also be contacted directly for registration materials. The resources they offer range greatly, from alternative testing and formatting to note taking services, academic assistants and other aid that can be found on their website.
The events throughout the week vary, but all work towards a common goal of disability awareness. On Monday, April 11, the center will have a table on the UC second floor from 12pm to 1pm, which will be giving out information disability awareness and the center’s services. The center will also be tabling in the same location on Tuesday, April 12, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. SDS will also be presenting a movie screening of “Silver Linings Playbook” that night in the Gillson Hall lounge from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in coordination with SHaRE, and as a plus there will be free desserts. On Wednesday, April 13, the Gender and Sexuality Center will host an event titled “Disability and Relationships” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in their offices on the UC 4th floor (UC 413), which will cover the misrepresentation of consent, as well as the reality of dating with disabilities and dating someone who has a disability.
Lastly, on Friday, April 14, comedian, educator and author Nina G will be performing in Cowell Hall 106 from noon to 1 p.m. Nina G is a stuttering, stand-up comedian who has previously performed for TED Talks, as well as many comedy clubs and colleges. As less than 1 percent of the population stutters, she has talked about the isolation that can be felt when microaggressions are directed towards her since she is not always met with the community’s full support.
Nina G said, “As wonderful as microaggressions are for my stand-up comedy, they’re not that great for my psychological and emotional well-being because they take a lot of work.” Much of her comedy talks about what she has experienced, simultaneously educating the public about disabilities.
For more information about Disability Awareness Week, Student Disability Services, the evaluation, and making an appointment, please visit Student Disability Services at https://myusf.usfca.edu/student-life/sds.