Disability Awareness Program

Cishella Durling: Hi everybody! My name is Cishella Durling and welcome to another episode of the Student Affairs Podcast series. I'm here today with Brian Holahan from the Disability Resource Center, who is the, the DRC coordinator and today we're going to do a deep dive into the Disability Awareness Program that the DRC offers. So, Brian, thank you so much for taking time to interview today. We're just going to go ahead and start with my first question. What is the Disability Awareness Panel?

Brian Holahan: Thanks for having me. I am happy to chat about these things. So, the panel itself is just a group of students that have volunteered to be on these panels. They kind of go through a brief training that we set them up with and then we sort of present to a variety of places. We've done classrooms for staff, faculty, students, and it's a place where they're able to share their experiences as a student and a person with a disability. And it really invites people to be able to ask questions in a setting that is more intimate and you're able to learn more from someone who's experiencing it as it happens, both, like in their academics but also outside in the community and it provides good a good chance for people to better understand how someone's disability might impact them because they think there's a lot of preconceived notions about ‘I know a person who has this thing, and that's how they were’, which could be true, but obviously everyone's different and how it impacts them is different. And so, it's a great opportunity here for our students to just let them share their experiences.

Cishella Durling: That's fantastic. Yeah. I think it is absolutely vital to hear experiences from people who live with a disability, so that's awesome. Why did the DRC decide to start this disability awareness panel?

Brian Holahan: You know, it was actually around before I started, so I can't tell you exactly why they started it, but why we continue to do it is mostly because it's one of those things that help people with disabilities, the percentage is pretty high and whether people have apparent disabilities or invisible disabilities where, if a person has an apparent disability, perhaps in a wheelchair, and you can tell they might be a person with a disability where the vast majority of people have invisible disabilities. And so, it's really important, I think, that the UofL community, I mean faculty instructors, staff, and students are aware of that and have the recognition that people with disabilities are your coworkers, in your classroom, and this is how it's impacting their life, and this is how we can all be more inclusive. And so, I think that is one of the reasons why. Because our center is here and we help plenty of students, which is great, honestly, we've had panels and students have said I didn't know your office existed. So, it's a great way also to just say here we are if you're a student that maybe needs help and didn't know these resources were even available. So, it's just a great way to get our office out there, but also for students to share their experiences and the UofL community to have a better understanding of that.

Cishella Durling: Absolutely. So, what does the request process look like?

Brian Holahan: Ah yes, there's a couple of easy ways. One, honestly very easy way is to just e-mail me directly or anyone at the DRC and say, hey, I'm interested in a panel for my classroom or my group, and we can definitely do that. Also, if you go to the Disability Resource Center website on the left side, there's a list of buttons and there's a button that says advocacy. If someone clicks on that, there's several things on there about trainings and things. But the third bolded section says Disability Awareness Panel, and there's a link below that that says request a student panel and so someone could go on there. It takes you to a Microsoft form that just asks some info about what the event is and what types of things the person might be looking for in a panel and then we receive that, and we would reach out to that person to get some more details and get everything squared away.

Cishella Durling: So about how long do these panels run?

Brian Holahan: Yeah, it varies—typically 45 minutes to an hour—I think is generally about how long they run. It depends a lot on how many questions are asked and how big the audience is, but generally speaking, I would say 45 minutes is probably a good estimate.

Cishella Durling: OK. And then what are some of the reasons you think the disability awareness panel is just absolutely vital for student life on campus?

Brian Holahan: You know, I would say UofL as a community you know, we always talk about diversity, equity inclusion, which is all super important. But I do think, and this is true of many spaces—sometimes people with disabilities are included in the diversity conversation, but perhaps like kind of on the periphery, it's just something that is sometimes overlooked. People think diversity and certain things come to mind and people with disabilities—maybe not as often. And so, I think it's super important that people remember that that is a part of diversity and that's why UofL is an inclusive campus. And how can we be more inclusive? And also, like we were saying earlier, statistically speaking there are plenty of students in all these classes and staff members and faculty members who all may be a person with a disability. So, it's super important that we're all aware of that and want to be inclusive and know best practices. And also to help answer questions if people you know, just honestly don't know the answer and that's fine. That's why we have the panel, and we can hopefully help answer that and help them out.

Cishella Durling: That's fantastic. Well, I'm I really agree with you on that, Brian, that, that inclusive atmosphere is something that I think the University of Louisville does very well. It is a cardinal family, that's for sure. And the fact that there is a disability awareness panel for students to basically advocate for themselves, I think that's fantastic. So, thank you so much for taking the time today to talk with us about the student Disability Awareness Panel. I really appreciate it.

Brian Holahan: Thanks for having me.

Cishella Durling: Yeah. So, everybody, we're gonna go ahead and wrap this up with a did you know the University of Louisville's Career Center is using a new platform called Cardinal Careers where you can find new job listings and internships. Go to Louisville.edu/career and check it out.


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