Disability Advocacy Week promotes action


by Mira Dover


Disability Advocacy Week is March 20–24, and the Office of Disability Services (ODS) is excited to see members of the JMU community engage in the events planned for the week. “This year our theme is Disability is Diversity,” says Brittany Dioszeghy, one of the ODS Associate Directors. “Our goal with the theme is to highlight that disability is part of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) movement. Dr. Brent Lewis in Student Affairs has added Accessibility to the DEI area name, making the acronym DEIA.”

In the past, the week was referred to as Disability Awareness Week. This year will be the first year that it will be called Disability Advocacy Week. This change comes as ODS moves from a focus on raising awareness around disability topics in the JMU community, to promoting advocacy for accessibility.

ODS is hosting multiple Disability Advocacy Week events focused on poetry and disability, community-building, and practical sessions about ODS and accessibility. Their kick-off event, ODS 101, will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Success Center, room 1075, on March 21. “This event is intended to bring people together who are connected with us and/or interested in learning more about us,” says Dioszeghy. “We will have refreshments available and a short information session, followed by a panel discussion where ODS staff will answer questions that were submitted by the JMU community.” They hope that this event will give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to speak to ODS staff in person and hear answers to some common questions.

About 10% of all JMU students are registered with ODS due to an established disability, and the number of students who apply for accommodations due to disability is increasing substantially each year. Nationally, around 20% of college students report having a disability, regardless of whether or not they seek formal accommodations from their college/university. “Integrating accessibility, equity, and inclusion into the university experience has always been important” says Dioszeghy, “but now, 1 in 10 students on campus has a documented disability, and it is more vital than ever before to invest in creating an accessible and inclusive campus culture and learning experience for all students.” The JMU community can learn more about accessibility and inclusion by attending any of the Disability Advocacy Week events.

“We encourage students, faculty, and staff to attend DAW events, engage in conversations, and ask the questions that they have so that we can further grow the culture of inclusion and accessibility here at JMU,” says Dioszeghy. Students, faculty or staff interested in learning more about Disability Advocacy Week and the enriching events taking place on campus can visit the ODS webpage.

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Published: Monday, March 20, 2023

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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