July is Disability Pride Month, which was originally created to encourage those with disabilities to embrace themselves, including their disabilities. Disability Pride Month is not a nationally-recognized month in the United States. The Herald recently interviewed students with disabilities to get their perspectives on where Meredith stands in its accessibility and acceptance of those with disabilities.
Disability Pride means different things to each individual. However, every person interviewed agreed that it is a necessary month and is important in recognizing disabilities both visible and invisible. Laurie Ponder, ‘22, was excited for the opportunities this month provides, saying, “This month means to me that various disabilities across the country can be recognized. Hopefully people can get resources, and whether you have a physical disability or an invisible [one] you can be proud of how far you’ve come on your personal journey.”
In previous years, students have organized events for Disability Awareness Week as a way to celebrate Disability Pride. When asked what resources were available for those with disabilities at Meredith, Ponder was quick to point to Disability Services, stating, “College is hard for anyone, but it can be extremely hard if you need testing accommodations…Disability Services and the staff have truly helped me thrive.” Lauren Pleasants, ‘21, echoed similar sentiments. She said, “Disability Services [has] been absolutely amazing and a lifesaver on campus. It would have been very difficult without my accommodations in my classes.” Ponder also credited faculty in her major department for aiding her with accommodations, such as one-on-one instruction or a separate space for concentration.
As for where the Meredith community could improve accessibility, Ponder pointed out that several buildings are inaccessible to those with disabilities. She said that older buildings such as the residence halls need “more ADA compliance accessible rooms…there are only a few on campus, so students who need the services are very limited in where they live.” Pleasants said she wanted more acceptance on campus for those with invisible disabilities. “I wish more people understood that ADHD isn’t something simple like just not being able to focus…please do not judge us before you know us,” she said.
On Meredith's campus, students with disabilities are provided several resources to help them navigate their time in college. When asked about Disability Services’ role in encouraging uniqueness at Meredith, Carolyn Koning, Assistant Director for Disability Services, responded, “The Disability Services staff hopes to help students with disabilities recognize that their perspectives and contributions are valuable. Disability may be a part of their identity, but they should have equal opportunities and equal access to all facilities, programs, events, activities and life at Meredith and in general.”
Additional resources available to those with and without disabilities on Meredith's campus include the following:
Disability Services: Visit MyMeredith or email email@example.com for more information regarding accessibility or accommodations.
Faculty members are experts in their fields. They teach at Meredith because they care about students, and they want to share their passion for their disciplines with students. Get to know your instructors and faculty adviser. Ask them for help with difficult concepts.
Meredith's Counseling Center offers a safe place for free, confidential personal counseling. Students may schedule an appointment for counseling by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919-760-8427 and leaving a message.
Student Leadership and Service: clubs, volunteering, major-specific and professional organizations and student leadership offer a multitude of opportunities to get to know other students, make friends, and develop personal and leadership skills. Go to MC Connect to find your people.
Special thanks to Carolyn Koning for compiling the above list.
By Rachel Van Horne, Associate Editor