Discussion aims for inclusivity and accessibility


Jan Weis, Disability Resource worker from Scott Community College, was a guest speaker for Disability Awareness. She spoke on Wednesday October 30, 2019 in Galve Room 3.She spoke about Disability Awareness, specifically Autism Awareness and some quick facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Isabella Perez

Jan Weisse, Accessibility and Disability Services Director at Scott Community College spoke about Autism Education and Awareness on Wednesday, Oct. 30 in Augustana’s continuing guest speaker series: Disability Rights are Civil Rights!

According to Kam Williams, Augustana’s director of disability services, in an email, disability awareness is important because of “the hard work, fight and dedication persons with disabilities have had to come through in order to have equity and inclusion. Disability rights are civil rights for all.”

Professor Madison Logan is an instructor and Clinical Supervisor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders department and teaches an First-Year Inquiry class on Disability Studies.

“They’re a large part of our population, and it’s always good to have more knowledge of these individuals,” Logan said. “To find a balance between being more inclusive and also see what they need…I think it’s important to give them resources.”

In the beginning of her presentation, Wiesse shared a video with the audience articulating how sensory sensitivity feels and sounds. Wiesse gave a discussion style presentation, offering

more concrete examples of general characteristics and challenges based on her own experience with individuals with autism.

At the end of her slides, Wiesse integrated the challenges college students with autism might have, for example, she said, “social interaction is the biggest thing I see as a struggle.”

Weisse also emphasised the importance of comorbid conditions (when an individual may have more or one disability such as autism and ADHD). “I like people to be aware of [comorbid conditions] since the accommodations may not be for autism.”

Though Weisse spoke on generalizations of behaviors that people with autism may have, it does not mean that all people with autism are the same. Wiesse made the important distinction that “they are all different and what I’m describing is very general.”

Americans with disabilities awareness on campus does not stop at Jan Weisse. The Quad Cities Deaf Expo was held on Nov. 2.  This event encouraged the QC community to come out an interact with the Deaf community with games, food and other family activities.

“A continuous campus wide educating, and effort to help the Augie community know that everyone is valued, cared for and has a place at the table of diversity,” Williams said in an email, offering advice to further disability awareness at Augustana.

By visiting classrooms, providing students, parents and staff with knowledge and information of ADA/Disability rights, Williams and Augustana are continuing awareness and accessibility for everyone in our community.

Williams also said in an email that she will be continuing events, similar to a speaker like Jan Weisse, in the spring semester.

Logan provided some critiques for the event as well. “I guess I wanted more ideas on how to best provide ideas and strategies for students in higher learning. Her [Williams’] hand out was a nice overview of general things,” Logan said.

“They’re trying,” Logan said about accessibility on campus. “Physical accessibility for those with a physical disability is difficult especially with the layout, and signage could be better. I believe Augustana is on the right path in working hard daily to make Augustana College a more inclusive and accessible environment for everyone.”