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Disabilities Awareness Month at Merrimack College

By Mackenize Reynolds

North Andover, Massachusetts. This month the Accessibility Service Office (Also known as ASO) is helping bring awareness to Disabilities Awareness month.

Located on the third floor of the McQuad library ASO has different events planned throughout the month of October. One of their goals is to help bring awareness to Disabilities awareness month.

ASO has done something similar to this in the past. They have done a week of it Accessibility Alliance Week .

For the 2021 Accessibility Alliance week it was held at the end of the month from October 26 to October 29 2021. All the events were open to the entire College community.

Some of the events that were held were career readiness conversations, supporting neurodiverse students, anxiety and autism, and many more.

Also in past years they have partnered with other communities around campus for Accessibility Alliance week. They have partnered with the O’Brien career center, the McQuad Library, and the club DREAM.

This year they decided to change it from just one week to a whole month.

“We felt it was important as student enrollment is increasing at Merrimack that it is important to bring to the forefront the misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the topic of disability. As one removes these misconceptions we, people with disabilities, allow for more positive attitudes and behaviors.” Said Lori Corcoran, Director and Compliance Officer of Accessibility Service Office

The events that they had planned for this year were located all around campus.Some of the events that they have had planned is an American Sign Language Class (ASL), Workplace accommodations workshop, and falling into fall.

“ It was nice to have different events to attend over the span of the month instead of trying to pack everything into one week,” said Haley Dufton, a senior at Merrimack college.

When coming up for this month they had a few in mind, but decided to look at the past and talk to people to make this month’s events happen.

“We reviewed concerns and ideas that were shared with the previous office staff. We used them to design the events. As we move forward, we will use the survey we developed this year to assist in. planning future events.” said Corcoran

The American Sign Language event was supposed to be held on October 13th in Crowe Hall. Unfortunately, this event did not happen because the person leading the event was unwell at the time.

The event itself was capped at twenty five people. The goal of this event was to have students learn a few common signs that they could use when talking with someone is ASL.

The next event that was planned was the Workplace accommodation workshop. This happened on October 18th from 4 to 5 in Alden Lab, the third floor of McQuad Library.

In this workshop students had a group discussion with the Director of Accessibility Services, Lori Corcoran, who led the event.

In the event the group discussed if and when to disclose that you have a disability and if you do disclose who you disclose to. Lori also went over different resources that students can also use as well.

Resources that students were introduced to was looking at the company size itself and looking at what state they are in and using the state resources that they have.

“Some of the events were related to things that concern me in my post graduate life, like the Workplace Accommodations discussion panel and it was nice to know that ASO is doing everything they can to help me prepare for post-graduate life in the work world.” Said Dufton

Falling into fall was another event that was hosted. It was on October 20th at 3:30 pm in Alden Lab in McQuad Library.

This event had students painting autumn/ halloween wooden sculptures and playing games such as hangman. They also had apple cider and apple cider donuts for light refreshments.

This event was for having students reach out and start to make friends outside of their normal friend groups. They even had alumni come to start having students make connections with people.

ASO also had different workshops that were held throughout the rest of the month as well and more events.

Overall, Disabilities Awareness Month was a huge success. So many students used the resources they were given and went to the events that were held.

Students were also happy to have events that they could go to and to meet people. Students were also pleased with how the entire month came out and hope that this continues on for next year.

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