The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs

Volume VIII, Issue 2 April-May 2007 Editor: James Walborn



The OSD held our annual Volunteer Banquets to thank the 400-plus volunteers on the Boca and Jupiter Campuses who assisted students with disabilities in the past academic year, and for those students who may consider volunteering in the future.  Most of the volunteers are notetakers who have provided copies of their own class notes to students whose disabilities do not allow them to accurately take their own notes.  Other volunteers provide numerous tasks for the office.
Participants on the Boca Campus enjoyed the Beatles theme and English cuisine.  The ‘Yellow Submarine’ was a popular photo op.  The Karen Peterson Dancers provided entertainment, which promoted disability awareness as two of the dancers are in wheelchairs. 
Participants on the Jupiter Campus enjoyed a Hawaiian catered lunch with music and hula performances by Ohana Arts.  A big ‘thank you’ goes out to the SGA for sponsoring these events. 


The OSD would like to congratulate all students graduating this spring, including those who have disabilities.  We thought that you might be interested in the sharing of some of their stories.


In 1972, after raising 6 children, Win decided to pursue her education.  She graduated PBCC (south campus), and has just earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English at the age of 76.  She laments the fact that college attendance for women was not an acceptable option when she was going to high school.  Win has been taking one class a semester while handling an active family and social life and maintaining a full-time position with Winn Dixie (28 years), despite having ADHD, a hearing impairment, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  “I’ve just recently been promoted to Assistant Grocery Manager,” she beams.  Her advice to other non-traditional students pursuing their dreams is, “Keep working at it.  It’ll finally happen.” 


A car accident left Pablo with chronic back pain and an inability to participate in a lot of the physical activities he used to enjoy.  “I came back to school to earn as high a college degree that I can since I can’t do the labor jobs that I once did,” Pablo acknowledges.  He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and would like to work in Mental Health Counseling and help others who have disabilities.  “The assistance that I got from the OSD has really been a great help to me,” Pablo states. 


A student with a disability expressed interest in starting a disability club at FAU.  So far there has been interest expressed by approximately 20 students and the official process for starting a University organization has begun.  Any interested FAU students should contact Jill Brondolo at for details.  


The Davie OSD and CDC held three workshops in March to help improve the employability skills of students, including resume writing, interviewing, and job selection tips. 


While this month we are heralding our volunteers who provide us with invaluable services, you can help us as well.  Please take a moment and complete our survey and drop it in campus mail.  We want to know what you are thinking.  Your opinions about the content of our newsletter are appreciated, and will be put to good use in deciding the nature of future articles.


Mihai Fonoage is earning his Ph.D. in Computer Science from FAU.  An international student from Romania, Mihai has stuttered severely since he was four years old. Some contributing factors include stress level, subject matter, and with whom he is talking. 
Mihai was required to take an oral exam to graduate high school in Romania, which is evaluated by three professors.  “They all just stared at me in amazement - I kept stuttering because it was such an emotional moment for me,” he confides.  His experience with FAU has been positive.  “I have spoken with my professors at FAU and they have been open-minded,” he relates. 
Mihai now receives therapy weekly at the FAU Communication Disorders Clinic.  Some techniques include stretching the first syllable of a word which helps him release the tension during the pronunciation, or bouncing through a word, such as “bubble.” 
People rarely stutter when reciting or singing in unison with others, which is called the "choral effect."  There is a fluency device known as the SpeechEasy which is worn in the ear and uses Altered Auditory Feedback to recreate the choral effect.  The user’s words are digitally replayed in the ear with a slight delay and frequency modification. The brain perceives that the person is speaking in unison with another individual.  This expensive technology costs around $5,000.
Mihai received a thorough evaluation with the device.  As a test, he wore it for an hour, calling his sister.  She told him later that he was a totally different person, explaining, “it was like you never knew how to talk before.”  Normally Mihai stutters 23% of the time, however, this was reduced to 3% when he wore the SpeechEasy, and the length of time stuttering was shortened from 3-4 seconds to ½ second per episode. 

Unfortunately, Mihai could not afford the fluency device.  As an international student he was not eligible for many of the traditional sources of funding such as scholarships and grants.  However, quite a few people became involved on his behalf.  Karen Fisher, Coordinator of Stewardship and Scholarship Programs, discussed Mihai’s situation with a donor of a special scholarship fund, who wanted to help.  Mr. Neuer had established the Nat and Laura Neuer Scholarship Fund in honor of both his son (a FAU graduate) and his wife, to assist students with any situation that is hindering their ability to obtain their degree.  He was delighted that the fund is able to help Mihai.   Karen Fisher arranged for them to meet on April 24th and they were delighted with each other. 
Mr. Neuer was one of the original founders of the FAU Lifelong Learning program.  A self-made millionaire, Mr. Neuer, 89, keeps himself in healthy shape by walking a mile every morning.  A treasured piece of his memorabilia consists of a photograph of himself with General Patton and General Eisenhower.  He is very proud of the fact that he has been married 67 years.  In the early 1980's Mr. Neuer designed a computer software program for FAU.  His philosophy: “Everything is possible.  Don’t cross anybody off.” 
While Mr. Neuer donates to many causes, he especially appreciates how scholarships can directly enhance the life of a student.  Mihai heartily agrees.  “I cannot stress it enough how grateful I am,” he implores.  “In the future I am sure that I will be able to do the same thing for other people.  When you see how much it counts, then you want to help others, and if you did not do that [help others] then it is all in vain.”
Likes: Mihai enjoys watching movies, reading, and spending time with his fiancee when not involved with his academic studies.  “I enjoy watching any kind of movie, but it has to be good,” he acknowledges. 
Dislikes: “People who lie,” he declares.  “I like everything to be up front and I like everyone to be honest with each other.  Trust is a must.” 
Anything unusual in the refrigerator: “Coke and Pepsi, but not a lot of food.  A lot of fruits, pizza, but not a lot of meat,” he notes.  Mihai has ordered the SpeechEasy and agreed to give us an update on the improvement.


The Communication Disorders Clinic (ED 413) provides diagnostic and treatment services for a wide variety of communication disorders, and offers services to students, faculty, staff, and the public on a space-available basis.  For more information call (561) 297-2258 or go to


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This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca: SU 133; phone 561.297.3880, TTY 561.297.0358. Davie: MD I, Room 104; phone 954.236.1222, TTY 954.236.1146. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.

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