News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- One in five Americans has a disability of some sort. This week is Disability Awareness Week and Augusta State University is trying to increase awareness.
This week, the Augusta State Student Center is hosting "Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit." It's all about becoming more aware of how disabilities affect society.
The exhibit is open all week long and students say it sends a powerful message.
"It's nice to see that the university that I go to, I'm a freshman here, that they are shedding light on the disability issue," said freshman Shanae Bethea.
She is also partially blind, but that's not what defines her.
"We're just normal people we just do things a little differently than you all," Bethea said.
Bethea said wants more people to know what it means to have a disability.
"People treat us like a number instead of actually looking at the person," she said. "When they see my cane, they automatically judge me before they get to know me because of all the stereotypes and misconceptions that are surrounding disabilities."
Eddie Howard, director of Student Activities, saw the exhibit at a conference two years ago and decided to bring it to the students at Augusta State.
"This exposed people to learning disabilities, psychological disabilities, physical disabilities and really gives you an appreciation of what those folks who have disabilities go through," Howard said.
"I have a child that has a learning disability so I'm kinda passionate about the idea of people understanding all the different components of the disability," said Howard.
To the students attending the exhibit, the message is clear.
"We're all made different so therefore you should treat everybody the same, disability or no disability," said student Keith King.
It's an interactive exhibit with activities and information that you can see, hear and touch. Howard says having those options is an important step in being an ally for inclusion.
"I think its very eye opening that the sighted community for us as blind people and just the non disabled people in general can come and learn a lot from this exhibit," said Shanae.
It's open from 9am-7pm Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday it is open from 9am to noon. It is open to the public so anyone can go. This is the first year, but they are hoping to bring it back again next year.