Sponsored by the Office of Accessibility, Disabilities Awareness Week is returning to The University of Akron with a variety of events from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 to promote inclusiveness and education about disabilities.
Disabilities Awareness Week originally began at UA in 2006. Since the first year, eleven of the weeks have been sponsored by the Office of Accessibility.
Tess Miller, a disability specialist and service coordinator for the Office of Accessibility, said this week aims at increasing campus knowledge of disabilities and the ways each type has unique characteristics.
For students who may not be able to attend the events for Disabilities Awareness Week, Miller said the Office of Accessibility’s hope is that the campus community understands the importance of inclusion.
“Inclusion can be an all-encompassing practice,” Miller said. “We also hope that students could self-identify as being an advocate for individuals with disabilities.”
When putting the calendar of events together each year, Miller attempts to offer diversity in the types of activities offered while also including some that have not been offered in the past.
Through offering a different set of events and activities each year, the goal is to give students, faculty and staff at UA educational and interactive experiences related to disabilities.
“When planning the week, the goal is to offer a variety of events uniquely planned to address different areas of interest and disability related topics,” Miller said.
This year, the events are promoting interaction between those with and without a disability, as well as ways to manage stress and mental health on campus.
“Bury It! Therapeutic Potting Event” kicks off Disabilities Awareness Week on Wednesday, Oct. 30, in the Jean Hower Taber Student Union Piano Lounge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Attendees will get to “reflect on what is causing negative emotions in their life, and then therapeutically release those feelings by writing it on seed paper and burying the plant seeds in a pot,” the Office of Accessibility website said.
Then, Spoken Word Artist Carlos Andres Gomez will perform that night in the student union Starbucks as one of the 7:17 events sponsored each semester by the Residence Hall Programming Board.
For Oct. 31, the Office of Accessibility invites campus members to “Ready, Set, Relax” in the piano lounge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Participants will learn about the benefits essential oils and aromatherapy have on health and wellness, as well as be able to make a few aromatherapy products.
The next event is “Strike A Pose – Chair Yoga and Yoga Basics Demonstration” on Nov. 4 from 1 to 2 p.m. in Studio A of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
For Nov. 5, campus members will have the chance to learn the alphabet and basic phrases in sign language during “American Sign Language (ASL) Learning the Basics” from 2 to 4 p.m. in room 310 of the student union.
Then the WAGtime Therapy Dogs will be in Bierce Library on Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in order to help campus members de-stress.
To end Disabilities Awareness Week, the Office of Accessibility is sponsoring “Outside the Lines – Mindful Coloring” on Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the student union piano lounge.
“The event encourages attendees to express their individuality as they practice the art of mindful coloring and learn the positive health impacts of coloring and mindfulness,” the Office of Accessibility website said.
Although there are several events planned for Disabilities Awareness Week this year, Miller isn’t looking forward to one event over the other. As coordinator of the week, Miller is excited to see the diversity in campus members participating.
“Each year it is exciting to see individuals from different backgrounds and different university affiliations, come together to experience and benefit from the events in ways that are unique to them,” Miller said.
According to coverage of Disabilities Awareness Week 2018, planning for the week of events begins a year in advance.
One way the Office of Accessibility plans to increase future involvement in creating the week’s events is to add a survey on their website where members of the UA campus community can make suggestions.
“Our goal is to provide students, faculty and staff with experiences that are both educational and interactive,” Miller said. “The Office of Accessibility welcomes members of the campus community… to share their ideas for future events.”
Students can contact the Office of Accessibility by email at email@example.com or by phone at 330-972-7928 for more information about the services offered or to volunteer for future Disabilities Awareness Week events.