University of Minnesota senior Sam Lewis has dyslexia, a learning disability, but he has a hard time convincing professors and fellow students he is disabled.
Lewis and fellow members of the U of M Disabled Student Cultural Center (DSCC) are launching a SEE 3 Campaign to raise awareness for students with disabilities. The DSCC has made two giant banners—one hanging from Northrop Auditorium facing Coffman Union, and another on Church Street in front of Murphy Hall. The banner reads: SEE 3, See Ability, See Disability, See Me.
“What we are saying is ‘See my ability, see my disability, and also see me as who I am and what I can do,’” DSCC president John Lukanen explains the banner’s message. “Don’t see us just for our disabilities, see us as persons and what we can do.”
“Disability is part of us and it’s not something we ignore,” Lewis added. “Sure John is blind and you can see that, but don’t let that be the only thing you see.” Lukanen and Lewis said the banner is part of a year long campaign to raise awareness for disabilities and the DSCC. On April 29, 2005 DSCC hosted a wheelchair soccer and basketball tournament at the U of M Rec. Center. All students and staff were invited to participate. Next fall, DSCC will launch another awareness campaign.
“We want to increase awareness that there are plenty of students with disabilities and that we are a vital part of this campus,” Lukanen said. “We also want to acknowledge that the DSCC does exist on this campus and is a great resource. We are the only Disabled Student Cultural Center in the Big Ten.”
Lukanen said there are 840 registered students with disabilities at the U of M, but the number could be much higher. Their disabilities range from those using wheelchairs and walkers, to those with visual, hearing, systemic, psychological, mental and learning disabilities.
The DSCC also hosted an Accessible Sports Day Friday, April 29, 2005. All students and staff were invited to participate and play wheelchair soccer and basketball games.