Six student panelists with disabilities ranging from Asperger’s to someone with impaired hearing openly discussed their specific disability and how it has affected their college experience at Coffee and Culture.
The purpose of the Let’s Talk Disabilities presentation was to help the audience better understand different disabilities and help make them aware of the resources available at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point that help accommodate different impairments.
Morgan Koth, senior communication sciences and disorders major, organized the event. She is the volunteer coordinator for the Student Involvement and Employment Office and also a member of the Disability Advisory Council.
October is disability awareness month, so the presentation was perfect timing, Koth said.
“It allows an able-bodied person to see into the life of somebody else who is different from them, and that is so important in any aspect, not just disabilities. I think that is what college is all about: growing and understanding how other people act and think,” Koth said.
Student panelist Marcus Reinhardt spoke to audience members about the learning disability he was diagnosed with in seventh grade. Reinhardt, senior elementary and special education major, thinks his personal experiences will benefit him in his future career.
“I think it’s important for myself to know all these disabilities because I’m going to be teaching students like this. It’s nice to know some of the quirks that they have I guess and some of ways I can help them. I’ll be able to relate to them,” Reinhardt said.
He is also an employee at Disability Services and a council member. Reinhardt believes he has been positively impacted by the disability accommodations available on campus.
“Basically, everybody at Disability Services is like a family to me. When I need something, I know who to go to, and I know I can go to them,” Reinhardt said.
Olivia Riemer, junior communication science and disorders major and council member, discussed her hearing impairment with the audience and how it affects her daily life.
Diagnosed at age four, Riemer has used hearing aids in both ears for the past 16 years. Growing up was not the easiest, and many people told her she would never be able to attend college, Riemer said.
“A lot of people have told me that because I have a disability I’ll never be able to accomplish anything, but that is not really true. Anyone can do anything they put their mind to,” Reimer said.
She uses accommodations and assistive technologies through Disability Services. This includes a microphone worn by her professors that directly connects to her hearing aids allowing her to hear lectures much more clearly.
“I am not just a person with a disability. I am a student just like you guys. I can do anything that you guys can do, except hear,” Reimer said.
Coffee and Culture is a diversity series organized by SIEO. It gives students a safe place to learn about and partake in discussion about a variety of diversity issues regarding race, ethnicity and religion. Registration for Coffee and Culture programs is available on the SIEO website.
The Disability Services office is located in room 609 in the Library Resource Center. It can help in providing accommodations to students with a variety of learning and physical disabilities including the option of having exam proctors and sign-language interpreters. For more information about Disability Services, call at 715-346-3365.