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SWArticle: A highlight of Disabilities Awareness Month

<tober is Disabilities Awareness Month. Among, a variety of events to hit campus aimed at promoting disabilities awareness, including the showing of the documentary Mudderball at SUMO, the quad rugby display by professional from the cities, a Universal yoga session and presentation by a yoga instructor from the cities, and the My Story presentations next Thursdsay of anonymous stories of Carleton student with disabilities, is the Universal Design sticker program.

Universal Design is world-wide movement to increase accessibility for all. According to the official website, “The Center for Universal Design (CUD) is a national information, technical assistance, and research center that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products. Our mission is to improve environments and products through design innovation, research, education and design assistance.”

SWA Sam Peterson ‘11 described Universal Design by saying, “It is basically an access for all principal. It started for people with physical disabilities but has expanded because there is such a wide variety of ability…it has also been brought into education”.

Through October, locations all over campus will be marked with sticker to show their promotion of or need for improvement toward Universal Design. “Red sticker will be placed where three is room for improvement on campus, they will draw attention to areas that are not to Universal Design code or that are difficult to access…Green stickers will be placed in locations that have been modified to fit the requirements of Universal Design.”

The idea behind taking this approach is to, “get out into the community…[the sticker idea bring awareness to the student body, instead of them coming to us…] we are going to them,” said Peterson.

Many Carleton students may not be aware of how disabilities are affecting other students daily. Peterson said, “Carleton [is a campus composed of] bright and able students and we think of ourselves this way, which may make it more likely for us to believe that disabilities would keep a person from being able to attend or succeed here. But this is not the case.”

Anne Lamppa, Coordinator of Disability Services for Students at The Wellness Center said, “There are over 70 students on campus that have provided documentation of a disability. I’m sure there are a higher number of students with disabilities on campus, but some students do not seek accommodations. Of the 70 students that I work with, the majority of those students have a learning disability or ADHD.”

Peterson said, “It is important to bring this to Carleton because of the stereotypes and common misconceptions that people with physical and mental disabilities [and learning disabilities] cannot compete at the same level as [the average, non-disabled] student can.”

Peterson explained some of the goals The Wellness Center has in bringing this program to Carleton.
One, to change the perception of students towards the abilities of people with disabilities including physical, mental, and learning disabilities.

Two, “to make people more aware of the little things”, for example ramps, which are essential to making life functional for a disabled person, but which we may take for granted.

Three, to promote the goal of making our campus more accessible by exposing its faults, which “is difficult because the campus is so old but with new improvements, like the new dorms, we should be careful.”

According to Lamppa the new dorms will be built to UD code, meaning that all ADA requirements will be met.

And, four, to look at Universal Design as an education that professors and students alike should be aware of different abilities and approaches to learning.

This month take the time to notice the stickers, and posters explaining them, in dorms and academic buildings.

Anne Lamppa said of this years Disabilities Awareness Month, “I think more students are participating in the activities this year. The SWA’s and Hall Director, Sarita Winterrowd-Lundin, have done an outstanding job of planning events that help raise awareness about disabilities and accessibility issues.”

Peterson said, “The focus of this month is all about awareness. Not just increasing awareness but broadening it to the range of possibilities of disabilities, because they are not all the same, there are variations of learning and physical. [Carleton students should] be aware of.”

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