DSS hosts disability awareness exhibit

The Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) at Oakland University held a Disability Awareness Exhibit on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in the Oakland Center.

The exhibit was sponsored by DSS, which supports over 600 students with varying disabilities, and the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The purpose of the event was to educate students and promote awareness of “visible” and “invisible” disabilities.

“We want to encourage a campus-wide understanding of what it is like to have a disability,” DSS Director Sarah Guadalupe said. “There’s so much diversity among the students at OU, and this event helps draw attention to it.”

The exhibit was made up of 10 stations. Each station educated students about a different disability. This included visual and mobility impairments, learning disabilities and speech impediments.

Interactive activities were provided to give students firsthand experiences. Wheelchairs were brought in to emphasize the need for accessibility. Support dogs and their trainers were also present at the event.

“DSS supports a lot of students on campus and this event is so important for the community,” Guadalupe said. “We want students to have an awareness of our office if they ever need to utilize it.”

Students who attended the events were able to gain a more realistic interpretation of what being disabled entails. The event offered braille printing where students could write their names or messages using braille.

Oakland University students Delania Wenger and Capri Williams-McCree were originally drawn to the event because of the support dogs.

“We saw the golden retriever down stairs and the volunteer told us to come check out the other events upstairs,” Wegner said. “I was able to write my name in braille. There’s so much to do here.”

Volunteers from all over campus came to show their support for the event. Justin Kellener, a veteran representative from Veteran Support Services, helped run one of the awareness stations.

“As a whole, Oakland University has some really great support groups,” Kellener said. “Veteran Support and Disability Support really help students feel like they belong and that they are accounted for.”

DSS’ doors are always open to students looking for support, accommodations or a better understanding of “visible” and “invisible” disabilities.

“Events like this are so important because it gives the campus a sense of inclusion and understanding,” Kellener said. “By coming to things like this, students create a dialogue.”

DSS is located in 103A North Foundation Hall. They specialize in helping students formulate accommodation plans. These plans include academic support, study aids and alternative testing. The plans are based on students’ specific needs.

In addition to educational support, DSS is devoted to accessibility. They provide a campus accessibility map that highlights routes and areas for physically disabled students to travel efficiently and safely around campus.

Any students interested in setting up an accommodation plan or finding out more about being a student with disabilities can visit the DSS office or email [email protected] for further information.