As part of its Homecoming week activities, one student organization will try to give students a first-hand experience of what it’s like to be disabled.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Impress-A-Bulls, a peer mentoring and disabilities advocacy group that began two years ago, will have booths set up in front of the Marshall Student Center. They’ll have four stations, each representing a different type of impairment or disability: visual, hearing, mobility and learning. Each station will provide information about the disabilities and allow participants to partake in activities that simulate the disability.
Carrie Hoeh, a senior majoring in mass communications and vice president of Impress-A-Bulls, said the activities are intended to make students more mindful the next time they interact with someone who is disabled.
“We’re hoping after this event, students will be more mindful when interacting with their peers and that they will also see ‘Oh, this really is much harder than I thought,’” she said.
“Our main focus is to encourage those with disabilities that they don’t need to allow their disabilities to limit themselves and encourage them to do ‘Impress-A-Bull,’” she said. “We also look to increase awareness in the USF community of the stigma that people with disabilities are limited in any way.”
They’ll be asking non-disabled students who attend today’s event to sign up for another activity, where they will have to spend four hours of their day with a physical impairment.
“We thought this was more effective than just simply shadowing someone with a disability,” Nelda Kampff, a senior majoring in mass communications and president of Impress-A-Bulls said. “They actually have to, for lack of a better word, pretend to have a disability. If they want to go to the bathroom, they’ll have to go there in their wheelchair. If they want to go to the pencil sharpener in class, they’ll have to go there in their wheelchair.”
Kampff said she thinks once students actually live their lives as a disabled person, they will remember that the next time they see one of their disabled peers on campus.
“They’ll see how sometimes you have to ask people to open doors for you or hold someone’s arm as they guide you across campus,” she said.