Last week, something really cool happened at my school. And I was involved in it!
The Ability Exhibit. Thanks to several amazing people, this traveling exhibit came to the University of Oregon! The exhibit is an interactive experience meant to display the many different facets of disability in a fun and informative way. The end goal is to raise consciousness about what it’s like to have a disability. For more info, visit their website!
As the president of the AccessABILITY Student Union, I helped facilitate the exhibit for most of the time it was on my campus. It was awesome!
Me and my fellow disability activist friend, Antonia, sitting at the Welcome Table
The exhibit talked about various topics related to disability awareness, including person-first language, universal design, disability law, and historical milestones of the disability movement. Each topic was addressed at a different station, which were all set up in a square shape in my school’s student union.
This was at the person-first language station. If you remove the panel, it says “Person who uses a wheelchair”
Person-first language is important in the disability movement. By using person-first language, the speaker is able to separate the person from their disability, rather than equating both.
This is a quiz about disability law in higher education. The answer to the question is “False.” Students have to provide documentation in order to receive accommodations for their classes. Very informative!
Each station had braille placards to visitors with vision problems can benefit from the exhibit too! There was also the option of borrowing headphones for a provided guided listening tour of the exhibit. Inclusiveness!
Beautiful banners outlining the major milestones of the disability movement and some interesting statistics about people with disabilities
The exhibit was located in the center hub of student activity on campus. Lots of students wandered by the exhibit, having no idea what it was. A pleasant surprise!
Posters showing actions leading up to the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. Access is a civil right!
Before the ADA was signed, people who use wheelchairs were turned away from restaurants and busses for being “fire hazards” or eyesores. They lacked basic rights. There were several posters documenting the injustice experienced.
At the end of the exhibit, visitors were encouraged to sign a pledge to be an ally. Here I am holding the board at the end of the exhibit’s run. So many allies!
Facilitating this exhibit was an awesome experience. I met so many people and listened to countless stories about all types of disabilities. Because Lyme bars me from participating in so many of life’s activities, I identify as a person with a disability. My school has a profound lack of disability culture. I felt absolutely refreshed after spending my week here. I felt that I was able to help raise peoples’ consciousness and advocate for other people with disabilities. This was just one small step in the journey towards equal treatment of the disability community. The activist in me is pleased.