LOGAN – In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed. For the past 25 years it has helped to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. To celebrate this anniversary, the Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) at Utah State University kicked off its inaugural Disability Rights Week on Monday.
Storee Powell, who works at the CPD and is part of the committee that put the event together, said a big focus of it is to get students without disabilities to interact with students with disabilities.
“Basically, the ultimate goal of the week is to help students without disabilities understand what it is like for students to have disabilities, whether it is physical or cognitive,” she said. “And maybe help the students with disabilities understand the resources that are available on campus for them.
“College is hard enough, but when you’re working with a disability it can add a whole other layer of complexity.”
The event started with a display that was set up in the window of the USU campus store and the marking of USU’s accessible features. Things like elevators and automatic door openers were marked with a logo that features an image of a cowboy hat in honor of Justin Dart. Dart, who nearly always wore a cowboy hat, was an advocate for people with disabilities and <a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/blog/2015/09/disability-rights-whats-with-the-hat/” target=”_blank”>was instrumental in helping the ADA get passed</a>.
“We’re kind of hoping that students will take notice of it and even tag it on social media,” Powell said.
The event will continue Thursday with an information fair in the Taggart Student Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information on the history of the ADA will be presented through posters and a documentary on the subject.
“That’s going to pretty cool, it’s pretty interactive,” Powell said. “A lot of the booths are going to have interactive games or demos or things like that, that they can kind of immerse themselves in.”
Powell added that a birthday cake served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will give guests extra reason to come.
“We’ll have an enormous cake,” she said. “It’s going to be huge. It’s going to have the Utah ADA 25 logo on it.”
The events will conclude Friday night with a comedy show from America’s Got Talent runner-up Drew Lynch and his partner Sam Comroe. Both Lynch and Comroe have disabilities of their own. Comroe was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in the third grade, Lynch was hit with a softball that caused damage to his vocal cords and now speaks with a stutter.
“I guess instead of letting it get (Lynch) down he was going to take advantage of it and be a comedian,” Powell said.
According to Powell, all events are free and everyone is welcome to attend, not just USU students. She said she hopes to see the week become an annual event and that USU has been very receptive to the idea.