Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Disability Services celebrates 40th anniversary

By Rose Gottlieb

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On Friday, Oct. 4 Disability Services at UMass Amherst celebrated its 40th anniversary with an open house, which was the first of many celebratory events planned for the year.

Julia Cardillo/ Collegian

According to Aquila McCants, a learning specialist for Disability Services, many students, staff, faculty members and alumni who have been assisted by Disability Services attended the open house, which was open to all of campus. Representatives of many other support services and departments on campus attended as well.

McCants and Director of Disability Services Madeline Peters said that meeting with so many people from other departments gave them the chance to brainstorm about collaborative programs and opportunities. The goal of these collaborations is to ensure accessibility for all members of the community.

Debora Ferreira, executive director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, was one of many people that attended the open house.

Ferreira emphasized the importance of the work Disability Services does on campus. She explained that, as part of the Office of Equal Opportunity, Disability Services not only assists people with disabilities, but it also ensures that they are provided with equal experiences here on campus.

“Access is not just for people with disabilities, but it’s for all members of our community,” said Peters. “If we all work towards making our world accessible to all diverse groups, that would open up our society to be a more welcoming and inviting society.”

“For Disability Services to be here for forty years shows that it is integral,” Ferreira added.

According to Peters and McCants, the open house provided an opportunity to raise awareness about Disability Services. The open house featured speakers and presentations who educated guests on some of the many types of assistance Disability Services provides, so people who attended were able to learn more about what the organization does and how it provides help to many members of the community.

Presentations featured new technology that can benefit students with disabilities. Smartpens, which are pens that record sound, software that converts a speaker’s words into text and document conversion software were just a few of the technologies demonstrated.

The presentations were an “opportunity for people to see what kinds of assistive technology are used,” said McCants. These technologies can “bring us closer together,” she added.

The meaning of Disability Service’s logo was explained to guests at the open house. According to Peters, the logo, which is a three-sided box, represents many things. It could “represent a wheelchair or anything in life that holds you back,” said Peters.

But it has many other meanings as well.

“The three sides represent family, education and society. The fourth side is open and it represents all of us as individuals… [who] grow and develop,” Peters added.

Disability Services will continue celebrating its 40th anniversary with a luminaria ceremony where candles inside paper bags will be placed around the pond in November.

 

Rose Gottlieb can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Disability Services celebrates 40th anniversary”

  1. Nancy Emond on October 7th, 2013 12:44 pm

    Thank you for the great article about Disability Services. We love what we do here!

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