This week, the AS club Students for Disability Awareness  (SDA) will be presenting a series of events, workshops and celebrations for the second annual Disability Awareness Week, which culminates on Saturday with a performance by standup comedian Josh Blue.
Throughout the week, students will be able to experience a simulation of living with a disability firsthand for a day. Students can spend the day in a wheelchair, on crutches or with a cane. At the end of the day, students will be asked to reflect on their daylong experience with others that participated in the simulation. Equipment can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in VU 565.
SDA Vice President Brittany Otter said that she hopes to make “disability,” a hot word on campus. She believes that if non-disabled students can imagine living with disabilities they will better understand what it is like to have a disability.
At 10 a.m. on Monday in VU 565, Disability Awareness Week will begin with opening ceremonies and a free breakfast. There will be speakers discussing what it means to live with a disability. All students are invited to attend and enjoy the free food and the speakers.
Later that evening there will be a special screening of “Positive Images: Portraits of Women with Disabilities,” at 7 p.m. in VU 565, with a discussion following the movie. Otter along with the ROP Women’s Center, chose to screen the movie because she wanted to give women with disabilities a platform to discuss the implications of living with a disability.
“Throughout history you’ve had the women’s rights movement,” Otter said. “More recently there’s been the disability movement. The movie explores what happens when these two things coincide.”
Tuesday will feature “Disability as an Asset,” a workshop for professionals with disabilities. The workshop, which will be held at 2 p.m. in VU 565, discusses techniques for how to prepare for a job and explain the dos and don’ts during an interview.
On Wednesday, the Disability Awareness Week activity will be speeding around Red Square in a series of wheelchair races, an event that is growing to be a yearly tradition. Last year this event drew a large crowd and proved to be particularly popular among students.
For students that hope to share their stories about living with disabilities, there will be an open mic night at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Underground Coffeehouse.
Friday’s main event is the Disability Resource Fair, which starts at 11 a.m. in the VU and runs until 4 p.m. Among the guests that will have booths at the fair are different health care and rehabilitation centers, as well as a booth where visitors can write letters to President Obama urging legislation for disability reform.
On Saturday, the final day of Disability Awareness Week, SDA along with ASP Special Events, will present Josh Blue. Blue, a comedian who has cerebral palsy, won NBC’s fourth season of “Last Comic Standing,” and is well-known, thanks in part to his ability to break conventional stereotypes about disabilities through laughter. Blue will be performing at 9 p.m. in the PAC. Tickets are $12 with a Western student ID and $22 for everyone else.
All in all, Otter hopes that students will have fun with Disability Awareness Week and learn a little bit about being in another person’s shoes.
“A lot of people think that you have to have a Disability in order to participate, which isn’t true,” Otter said. “We try to make these events fun and accessible for everyone. We want everyone to learn.”