Friday, May 1, 2015

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2015: One of the Lucky Ones?

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I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm one of the lucky ones. Maybe. I do feel invisible. Mostly I feel lucky because I'm about to graduate. Here, have some official statistics of disability in higher education in the United States:
  • Students with disabilities represented nearly 11 percent of all postsecondary students in 2008, according to a federal survey.1
  • The graduation rate in 2013 was “approximately 26%, half of the rate of students without disabilities.”2
  • The National Council on Disability reported in 2003 that “ Resources in higher educational institutions are often inadequate, leaving disability service units in the position of having to make decisions based upon budgetary considerations rather than upon proven effectiveness (NCSPES, 2000).”3
  • The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2009 that “a few of the barriers cited by institutions as hindering implementation of Universal Design to a moderate or major extent were limited staff resources to provide faculty and staff training on accessibility issues (52%).”4
  • Since many schools are understaffed, the importance placed on “school disability services offices collaborating with other campus offices, such as academic departments, counseling centers, financial aid, housing, student activities, special events, and career services, to provide the full range of services that students may need” becomes strained.5
  • Many schools also do not have the proper resources in place to support students with varying psychological health needs.6
  • In a report by the Association for the Study of Higher Education in 2013 on students with disabilities, it found that “students with disabilities may feel invisible on college campuses.”7
    • A solution to this, according to ASHE, is social change: “institutions must also move to create social change in their campus communities. The perception of students with disabilities must change in those individuals who do not identify with a disability.”8 It also indicated that “self-advocacy was a large component of their success, but it did not come easy.”9

But I'm one of the lucky ones, I'm graduating. I'm graduating. But I still feel invisible.

Because it is a double-edged sword. Being told to self advocate and then when you do, being told that you are hostile. I still feel invisible because I am not considered a minority. Disability is not considered a culture, though we got the disability group on campus into the cultural organization coalition. I do not see myself on campus. I see other people being far more successful academically. I see other people and few people disclose any disabilities on my campus.

I do. I do. I disclose at every opportunity. I tell them, “I'm Autistic,” and I gave speeches in my speech class in 2014 on autistic self advocacy, but I don't think they believed me and my social model of disability. I don't think they believed that I could have meltdowns and shutdowns and not be able to talk sometimes. I don't think they believed that the nonspeaking Autistic community could have a quality of life and want their lives because someone else was presenting on autism on the basis of her cousin being “low-functioning,” a term that is degrading and dehumanizing and ignorant of the facts of autism.

Places of higher learning must create social change. A community where people can disclose.

Places of higher learning need to care and devote budgetary concerns to programming and to having more than one staff person in their offices and concern themselves with more than straightforward academic concerns. Disability needs to be included at every turn everywhere that proclaims diversity and forced to be included in anywhere that does not even try to claim diversity.

Because I say to any place that tries to claim me as a diverse statistic: you cannot and may not, unless you are trying to include me and my disabled peers. I will tell the world you are not diverse in this regard.


1 Government Accountability Office, “Higher Education and Disability,” 2009.

2 ASHE Higher Education Report, “Disability of College Campuses: An Overview,” 2013.

3 National Council on Disability, “People with Disabilities and Postsecondary Education -- Position Paper,” Sept. 2003:

4 National Center for Education Statistics, 2009. pg. 4

5 Government Accountability Office, “Report on Higher Education and Disability,” 2009.

6  Ibid.

7 ASHE Higher Education Report, “Disability on College Campus: An Overview,” 2013.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.   

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