To recognize Disability Awareness Week, Texas Tech Student Disability Services hosted a kick-off event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday in the Free Speech Area of the Student Union Building.

Students at the event had the opportunity to learn about Student Disability Services, sign a Disability Awareness Week banner, see the Masked Rider with Fearless Champion and more.

This event, the first of multiple events planned for the week, was an opportunity to raise awareness for Student Disability Services, Raquel Iber, administrator and academic counselor for Student Disability Services, said.

“Well we’re an inclusive campus and that includes all of our students with disabilities as well and a lot of times not everyone on campus is aware of what we provide for students with disabilities,” Iber said. “And so we want to make sure everyone knows who we are and what we can do.”

Student Disability Services works with students who have documented disabilities to provide classroom accommodations, interpreters and more, Iber said.

“Any documented disability, they can apply and we’ll take a look at it and see how we can serve,” she said.

Alyssa McElfresh, a freshman nutritional sciences major from Lubbock, attended the event. McElfresh has worked with Student Disability Services in the past for accommodations.

“I have low vision, I’m legally blind and so I get filled-in notes and get to be up front in class,” McElfresh said. “And then also extra time on tests for anxiety that I have.”

The kickoff event is an opportunity to show everyone that students with disabilities are not different, she said.

“Like a disability is not struggling, you know, no one’s different,” she said. “Someone might have a hard time writing so they need someone to write notes for them or some people can’t speak or hear, so they need someone doing things for them. I really think that’s why someone should know, because we’re not different.”

It is important to address any stigma that might exist around individuals with disabilities and change that narrative into being more supportive, Teesha Low, an academic counselor with Student Disability Services said.

Low was on a committee that that helped plan the week’s programming.

“I just think it’s important for people to realize that we’re supportive of an inclusive environment and that maybe we should look for opportunities to like just like be more involved, be more open and inclusive,” Low said.

Low said she hopes students who attend the Disability Awareness Week events walk away realizing Tech is a stronger, better place when it is inclusive of everyone.

“I’m hoping that individuals realize that life’s better when we’re kind to everyone and we look at individual strengths instead of focusing on limitations,” she said.

Disability Awareness Week will feature programming throughout the week, Iber said.

She encourages students to come and attend events such as the Creative Abilities Art Gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday at the Ice House Exhibit Area at First Friday Art Trail, she said. The gallery features art created by students with disabilities and proceeds from the event support the Student Disability Services Alex C. Watkins Endowed Scholarship fund.

A full schedule of events for Disability Awareness Week is available at https://www.depts.ttu.edu/sds/currentstudents/DAW.php.

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