The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Letter to the editor: Disability Cultures Week focuses on accessibility

Hello Fellow Grinnellians,

The next week and a half (February 23 through March 4) is Disability Cultures Week and there will be a whole host of events to help celebrate the many disability cultures that are represented on campus. There will be opportunities to learn about ways to enhance access to our campus, educational opportunities about specific topics—such as how to receive disability accommodations in the workplace and a session on getting involved in legal action in Iowa—and opportunities to connect with other Grinnellians interested in disability and accessibility.

Throughout the week, there will be a table over the lunch hour dedicated to discussing topics of access, providing free copies of Read&Write Gold—a software that can enhance the learning of all students, and opportunities to share your own thoughts on Grinnell’s disability and accessibility culture. Two of the important projects that will be discussed at the table are initiatives to keep interior and exterior pathways clear and free of impediments. These projects will help not only Grinnellians who may use a wheelchair, motorized scooter or navigate using a cane or service animal, but also Grinnellians who are on crutches, Grinnellians who are pushing carts or strollers, and Grinnellians who are simply distracted by a particularly thought provoking article, phone call or Yik Yak and may inadvertently collide with a parked bike or dropped bag.

The first project is a “pay it forward” style hang tag project for bikes on campus that are parked in accessible pathways. The hang tags which can be placed on the handlebars of a bike that is moved by an active bystander helps to educate faculty, staff, students and visitors who park their bikes on campus of the importance of keeping bikes clear. It provides information regarding where bikes should not be parked and then urges the bike owner to keep the tag and place it on a bike they discover is blocking an accessible path or door. These hang tags will be available for interested Grinnellians to sign out and carry around to help “pay it forward” education style. 

The second project will help to provide guidance on where to place backpacks and other belongings over the lunch and dinner hours in front of the Dining Hall in order to keep pathways clear for all Grinnellians trying to access the elevator, building exits, mail room and the tables along the Laurel Leaf Lounge that provide important connection and information space each meal time for various student organizations.  Next week, starting on Monday for lunch, you will see areas of the lobby marked off with tape that indicate areas where backpacks that are placed in those locations are out of the accessible pathways and will hopefully create a safer and more navigable entrance to one of the hubs of our campus. 

Last semester, Grinnell rallied around the messages to not place backpacks within the taped square in front of the elevator in order to help keep the elevator accessible. This semester, I urge and challenge all of you to take part in making Grinnell a more inclusive environment for student, faculty, staff and visitors with physical and neurodiverse disabilities. Join me and other engaged Grinnellians in pledging to keep backpacks and coats within the taped spaces. 

Other events coming up during Disability Cultures Week Include: 

– Tuesday, Feb. 24, 5-8 p.m: JRC 1st & 2nd, tabling at the Wellness Fair                     

– Tuesday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m.: JRC 209, informal discussion on Disability @Work with the CLS             

– Wednesday, Feb. 25, 5-6 and 7-9 p.m: JRC 311-C, Assistive Technology Lab Open Office Hours

– Thursday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m.: JRC 311-C, @Work panel on requesting accommodations in graduate school and/or the workplace

– Monday, March 2, noon: location TBD, roundtable with visiting artist/scholar Sandie Yi

– Monday, March 2, 7:30 p.m.: location TBD, lecture on creating disability culture and challenging body normativity through artwork with Sandie Yi

– Tuesday, March 3, 7-9 p.m.: JRC 311-C, Assistive Technology Lab Open Office Hours   

– Wednesday, March 4, 4:15 p.m.: JRC 209, panel on legal advocacy and disability activism opportunities in Iowa

If you would like to be more formally involved in either of these projects or would like to know more about upcoming Disability Cultures events, e-mail Autumn Wilke at [wilkeaut].

—Autumn Wilke

Coordinator of Disability Resources

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