IDASL Highlights

Disability awareness course seeks to bring in students from all over campus

News Flash
(Provided by the Center for Persons with Disabilities)

The disability awareness course, housed at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, already hosts a variety of seniors and graduate students. They represent family and human development, music therapy, social work, speech pathology and audiology.

Still, course facilitators want to bolster the diversity of their students. Any senior or graduate student could benefit from taking Special Ed 6500, offered through the Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Community-Engaged Learning Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.

"They [students] are going to come away with a better understanding of what disability is," said Jeanie Peck, one of the course's facilitators.

Kristy Price, in her first year of graduate school in speech and language pathology, she said the course has helped her to take a broader view about disability. "It's really expanded my horizons," she said. For example, she understands that a disability in speech and language affects more than communication in the life of a person who has it.

The class has also helped the community programs where students gain their experience in the field. "We rely on volunteers to run our programs, so they [the Special Ed 6500 students] are extremely helpful," said Sammie Macfarlane, executive director of Common Ground Outdoor Activities. The program's focus is in encouraging outdoor activities for youth and adults with disabilities.

"Before they come out and volunteer, they come and learn about our program, our adaptive equipment," Macfarlane said. "I think they get a lot of hands-on experience as well."

During classroom seminars, students learn about disability issues, often directly from people who experience them. This year people with visual disabilities discussed the good and the bad about trying to navigate through Logan. People with mental illnesses talked about the day-to-day experience of managing their mental health; about setting goals, making friends and finding support.

The community-engaged learning component sends students out into the field to serve programs like Common Ground, Options for Independence, the Up to 3 program, the Developmental Skills Lab, the Assistive Technology Lab, and the Peer program.

In addition to firsthand experience, the course also adds a bright spot to a graduate's resume, Peck said. In today's workplace, understanding disability issues can be a valuable thing.

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