The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs

Volume VII, Issue 4 October 2006 Editor: James Walborn



October is Disability Awareness Month which included several area events attended by the FAU community. Students enjoyed Disability Mentoring Day, sponsored by the Sun Trust Bank, in Ft. Lauderdale. OSD personnel and students participated in Disability Awareness Day on the Boca Campus, sponsored by the SGA. The Diversity Student Services office on the Jupiter Campus held several events to assist in expanding everyone s awareness about aspects of various disabilities. These included: Movie Night, which showed The Sea Inside/Mar Adentro, the Academy and Oscar Award-winning movie; E. Coli Bad Bug was presented by Marvis Nelson, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner who discussed the causes and effects of E. Coli, an infectious disease, and how to prevent it (cosponsored by Student Health Services); Deaf Culture and Sign Language was presented to those wishing to learn more about this interesting culture; and The ABC s of LD and ADHD shared by Dr. Phil Cromer, Counseling Center. We hope that you were able to catch some of these interesting Disability Awareness events.


The American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the largest blind consumer-advocate organizations in the U.S., are busy seeking passage of several important legislative issues this year.
Currently it is a national law that all classroom textbooks are to be made accessible for blind students between kindergarten and 12th grade. The NFB is trying to extend the influence of this law to include college students as well.
The ACB is working towards the reinstatement of Descriptive Video Service (DVS) for television, which provides background narrative for visual descriptions not mentioned during the program. In 2002 a newly enacted law requiring TV and cable companies to provide 4 hours of DVS programming a week was overturned as being considered an excessive hardship to the companies. For quite a while the blind community has pointed out that, by law, 100% of all television must have closed captioning for the hearing impaired. But just this past September the FCC has weakened this regulation and will now allow any broadcast entity that finds this rule a hardship to be exempt from the requirement.
The ACB is backing a law to increase the preparation and planning involving emergency evacuation. The past two hurricane seasons exposed the government s inept handling of the disabled during an emergency. Some individuals with disabilities arrived at shelters only to be told to go to area hospitals, which were not accepting non-emergency situations. Others were accepted into shelters but were told that their dog guides would not be allowed, which is a direct violation of nationwide laws. Unfortunately, all of this pending legislation has made slow progress in Congress and will not receive passage this year.


The Jupiter Office of Diversity Services has been changed to Diversity Student Services and Naomi s title is now Assistant Director. Congratulations Naomi.


In honor of the 2006 Homecoming theme, OSD has crossed the Hollywood glare with a Halloween flare. From a skeletal cheerleader to haunted owls, OSD has it all. The FAU students, faculty, and staff are all invited to come and enjoy the haunted Homecoming by visiting SU 133. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, Drama is life with the dull bits cut out, so come visit the drama in the spookiest office on campus.


Marcus Banks loves music; all types and genres. He loves to hear, perform, create, and direct it. It s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep, Marcus asserts.
The fact that Marcus has Cerebral Palsy (CP) has not prevented him from enjoying his craft or from pursuing his music degree at FAU. The freshman was one of the members of the World Music Ensemble which performed at President Brogan s State of the University Address on September 19th. It s a lot of fun performing because you know that you ve put in all the hard work and effort and it s paying off, he explains. CP is a chronic condition affecting the nerves which control the body's muscles and results from damage to the motor area of the brain. This can be congenital or be caused by an accident or disease. It is often accompanied by multiple medical, social, and educational challenges.
Because of his CP, Marcus walks with a limp and his handwriting is unreadable. No matter how much I try, my handwriting comes out sloppy, he laments. For accommodations he receives a notetaker and a scribe. My fine motor skills are missing so I have to try harder, Marcus states. He cannot grasp pens but has learned to become a serious percussionist.
Marcus has this advice for professors: Students with disabilities have goals just the same as everyone else - to get our degree so we can work in our field of study. Work with the student who is trying. Yes, our disability is not going away, but our lives and ambitions are just as important as everyone else. Know me for me and not for what I have.
Marcus doesn t have a lot of free time. His toughest course is Music Theory and he may spend up to three hours a night working on it. When not working on course work or his music, he spends his time with his new friends at FAU and talks to his relatives in Belle Glade by phone.
Anything unusual in the refrigerator: In the physical refrigerator all you will see is three bottles of water and two bottles of Gatoraid, and the water will be gone by the end of the day. Now, if you open the refrigerator inside my head you ll find someone who is dedicated and who will work hard for everything that he wants to get out of life, Marcus shares. You get the feeling that this earnest student will succeed.


For a long while it was believed unjustly that if a deaf person learned sign language they could not develop the ability of speech. This initiated lip reading as a means of comprehension. However, lip reading is only about 30% accurate for the best lip readers. Now educators utilize a total communications method which lets the student decide what works best, such as speaking simultaneously with sign language.
There is no universal sign language, and even within American Sign Language (ASL) there are regional colloquialisms and accents. Thomas Gallaudet originally brought sign language to deaf children in America from a version used in France. A university for deaf students in Washington DC is named in his honor.
Linguists consider ASL a dynamic separate language with its distinctive set of grammar rules containing its own social and cultural customs. Any sign may have multiple meanings, depending upon the context in which the sign is used. Touch is a common form of communication in the deaf culture. Many are very curious since their primary form of gaining information is visual, which is why a good sign language interpreter will describe all conversations in the room. Many in the deaf culture have in common the fact that they attended state residential schools for the deaf, thus providing a somewhat different outlook on life. Many get frustrated with the telephone, having to depend upon the nearness of friends or the use of the relay system and TTY s in order to express their thoughts.
Deaf individuals can often be quite blunt and straight to the point as their culture does not include the social nuances and false politeness of most oral societies. You look terrible! What did you do to your hair? or That dress makes you look fat, might be common reactions.
Regular American culture has borrowed from the deaf as well. The baseball umpire s use of signals, the football huddle, and the high five all have their origins in the deaf culture. Thanks to TJ Jaramillo, the OSD Sign Language Interpreter for the background information for this article.


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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; (561) 799-8585, TTY (561) 799-8565.

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