Abstract: According to the ARC, an estimated 54 million Americans live with a disability. These people constitute the nation's largest and most diverse minority group. What sets this minority group apart from the others is that anyone can join at any time and it is the only group that is inclusive and accepting of anyone. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, neighbors, friends, co-workers, students and teachers all comprise this group and every ethnicity, socioeconomic background, religion, age, and gender is represented.
Even today, people who live with disabilities or impairments have been identified by their disability, instead of being identified as a person first. Words such as “retarded,” “handicapped,” “wheelchair bound,” “special-ed student,” and “disabled” are just a few examples deemed responsible for plaguing societal perceptions and acceptances of such individuals, in addition to contributing to the inclusion of these individuals. This is a result of lack of awareness and has caused society to fail to embrace the unique talents, skills, and abilities of these persons. People with disabilities or medical impairments are often labeled by their disability or means of mobility, instead of as a person first. This workshop will focus on disability awareness, eradicating negative stereotypes and perceptions of such persons, using person first terminology, and interacting properly and positively with a person who lives with a disability.
Jessica James is a second year transfer student here at The College at Brockport, pursuing her second baccalaureate degree in Criminal Justice. Prior to coming to Brockport in 2012, Miss James graduated with a BS degree in Individualized Studies from Buffalo State College. During Scholars Day 2013, she presented "People First Terminology: Changing Societal Perceptions of Individuals with Disabilities," inspired by her experiences as volunteer for the Brockport Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged, mentored by Dr. Lauren Lieberman.