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Accessibility Awareness Week Celebration Set for October 22-27, 2012
10/4/12 – UTB and TSC strive to be a welcoming campus for students with disabilities. The focus is not on disabilities but on providing access and developing abilities. That’s why the University is celebrating its twelfth annual Accessibility Awareness Week, October 22-27, 2012.  A full range of activities is planned, including the ASL Talent Show, Accessibility Awareness Fair, “Fitness Has No Boundaries” at the REK, and a panel presentation.

Kicking off the week is the “In Our Shoes”panel presentation on Tuesday, October 23rd  from 12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the SETB 3rd floor conference room. The event provides a forum in which students with disabilities share some of their life experiences and strategies for success. Panelists will include students with learning, visual, and hearing impairments as well as a veteran with PTSD.  Dr. Steve Chamberlain will serve as the moderator.  Refreshments will be served.  The free event will also be streamed live on the web at www.utb.edu/livewebcast.  

The Accessibility Awareness Fair will be on Wednesday, Oct. 24th from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Gazebos.  Everyone is invited to actively “experience” dyslexia and visual impairments, make a sign language souvenir, learn some basic signs, see “your name in Braille,” and learn about “Apps for Success” that can help all students learn, memorize and stay organized.

“Fitness Has No Boundaries is the theme of the events at the REK on Friday, October 26th from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. All students can join in the fun by wearing goggles that simulate visual impairments and competing in various activities, including a free throw contest, a “blind” run, and ping pong.  A wheelchair obstacle course and other events are also planned.  For information contact Alyssa Perales at 882-5979.

Capping off the week will be the 6th Annual ASL Talent Show on Saturday, October 27th.  To be staged at the Student Union’s Gran Salon, the event will include comedy sketches, storytelling, dance and music.  A celebration of deaf culture, the show will be presented in both voice and American Sign Language, the natural language of the nation’s deaf community.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the show starts at 7:00 p.m.  Admission at the door is $5.00.  Children age 5 and under are free.  Proceeds benefit the Sting ‘Em Sign Club.

Accessibility Awareness Week is sponsored by Disability Services with help from Dean of Students, the Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, Information Technology Services (ITS), the REK, Student Life and the Sting ‘Em Sign Club.  For more information contact Disability Services at 956-882-7374 or e-mail steve.wilder@utb.edu.

Nothing can stop them

Students discuss disabilities during ‘In Our Shoes’ panel

Four UTB/TSC students shared the daily challenges of having a disability with an audience of students and faculty during a panel discussion last Tuesday.

 The 12th annual “In Our Shoes” panel, held in the SET-B third-floor conference room, addressed the situations students with impediments have to overcome every day.

 Yvette Villarreal, an accounting freshman, was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. This learning difficulty primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling, according to the website dyslexiaaction.org.

 “It is overwhelming when it comes to tests, when it comes to learning,” Villarreal said. “… Teachers would help me with more time with tests, modifying the tests. … I was transposing numbers, the word, the letter, but I was getting my subjects. I knew what I was doing; I just was learning it differently, at a slower pace.”

 When Villarreal was told that going to college was a waste of time and money, she thought that she would have to try twice as hard.

 “I said, ‘All that I need is a little bit of help,’” she said.

 Panelist Bryan Abanilla, a management senior, has macular degeneration, a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of the field of vision.

 “Everything is blurry beyond 2 or 3 feet, after that I can tell sort of what the object is, but definitionwise, I can’t tell what it is,” Abanilla said.

 He was diagnosed at age 6.

 “I grew up kind of in what I like to call the ‘technological black ages,’ which basically were just pen and paper,” Abanilla said. “So I would always get a big black marker and paper and just write it giant; that’s how I would learn.”

 Today, he uses a video magnifier, or closed-circuit television system (CCTV), to read texts in books and computers.

 “As far as life in the university, everything has gone pretty smoothly,” Abanilla said. “… My case has been pretty smooth, according to the plan. Everything worked out how it was supposed to work out, and so I was very fortunate in that aspect.”

 Asked by Chamberlain how life in college is different from high school, Abanilla replied: “In high school everything’s done for you, your exams, everything is set for you in the classroom. In college it’s kind of like, ‘All right, [Disability Services Coordinator] Steve Wilder is somewhere, go find him and talk it up, and see what he can do for you.’”

 Daniel Skaines, an exercise science sophomore, took a moment to honor a friend who died that same day in the battlefield in Afghanistan.

 “I’m a little different from some of the people here, because I wasn’t diagnosed with anything when I was little,” Skaines said. “What I suffer from is more a mental illness or disorder called PTSD, which is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and TBI, which is Traumatic Brain Injury.”

 While he was in the U.S. Army, Skaines was injured in combat several times, but he did not experience any changes until he went back to college.

 “I recently realized that some of the things I used to be good at, like math, I used to be very good at math, I’m not so good at it anymore,” he said. “Because I suffer from a short-term memory deficiency, if you tell me something, I remember during our conversation, but, if I walk away from that conversation, chances are I’m going to forget it.”

 Skaines said this condition affects his schoolwork and personal life.

 “Sometimes, I get angry faster than I should,” he said. “I don’t have outbursts or anything like that, but I internalize it and I carry that with me.”

 Eric Torres, a computer information systems and web design junior, has a hearing and speech disability. He uses American Sign Language to communicate.

 “I have an interpreter, so sometimes the interpreter also helps to clarify material that I don’t understand,” Torres said through an interpreter. “If I’m struggling with something, they are able to explain it to me to a different level.”

 Steve Chamberlain, an associate professor in the Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies program, said the purpose of the panel discussion is “to give several of our students an opportunity to share their stories.”

 The stories are fascinating,” Chamberlain said. “Basically, when we talk about students with disabilities at a college level, what we try to focus on is access. I think access is the key word.”

 The event was part of the university’s observance of Accessibility Awareness Week. Wilder said there are 350 students with disabilities on campus. He said the department provides these students the accommodations needed for their education.

in our shoes

in our shoes

“Senior management major Bryan Abanilla (left) offers a humorous anecdote about his experience living with macular degeneration.”

in our shoes

“Freshman accounting major Yvette Villarreal details her struggles with dyslexia and how it has affected her studies. ”

in our shoes

“Sophomore exercise science major Daniel Skaines describes his experience in the U.S. Army and living successfully with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). ”

Disability Services

Office of Disability Services
Cortez 129
Phone: 956-882-7374
Fax: 956-882-7861

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