October is Disability Awareness Month and the Office of Education Counseling and Disability Services is putting on several events to help educate, promote awareness and celebrate those with disabilities.
Public relations junior Braden Gebbink is an intern in the ECDS office. He believes the office is “wonderful” in helping Ferris students with disabilities. However, he feels as though the university as a whole “could do more.”
“Sometimes I think that some people on campus treat disability awareness month as a puff piece,” Gebbink said. “The university could be more of a team player with the ECDS office and put more of an emphasis on promoting disability awareness month.”
Sophomore Will Knapp is a student who is on the autism spectrum.
“With Autism, our brains are wired differently. Autism does not hit the same person twice the same way, you can be either high functioning or low functioning.” Knapp said. “To me, it doesn’t make me disabled. I just think that I see the world from a different perspective than other people.”
Knapp has faced many struggles as a student at Ferris. These struggles include learning in the classroom and interacting with other students. He feels as though when he is nice to some, he gets a weird response back because his approach is different from what is seen as normal.
Knapp believes the student body’s response to people with disabilities is mixed. He thinks that there are a great number of people on campus that are very positive and understanding about students with disabilities, but others who are not as understanding.
“There are people that are very patient and honorable and really don’t care that I have a disability, but I also think that some people are not as aware about how to treat people with disabilities,” Knapp said.
He sees that his odd interactions with students don’t come out of hatred, but more so out of a lack of awareness on how to treat someone with a disability without accidentally upsetting or insulting them. He feels that the university could do better at educating the Ferris community on how to appropriately approach students with disabilities.
Throughout the month, ECDS will be hosting events to educate and celebrate Disability Awareness Month. Some events include an open mic night on Oct. 9 and a book club on Oct. 24 about the book called “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Advocate” by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner.