Brookdale students, staff and faculty members were treated to refreshments, prize raffles, free lunch and an inspiring guest lecture from Oct. 12-13 as part of the college’s fifth annual Disability Awareness Week.
The program, hosted by Brookdale’s Disability Service Office and the Office of Student Life and Activities, encouraged community members to take a new look at common disabilities and to take advantage of the unique support services offered to all Brookdale students.
While many have a narrow view of the term “disability,” Disability Services director Ernest Oversen said college students can encounter a wide range of impairments that impact their ability to succeed in the classroom.
“More than half of the disabilities we see are invisible,” Oversen said. “Others are much more common than people think. Where do you go, for example, if you break your arm? What happens if you get sick or are dealing with another type of medical condition during the semester? That’s what we are here for.”
Disability Services offers comprehensive support for students with disabilities, including note-taking services and assigning “scribes” for those who are unable to take a written test.
“Between 1,300 and 1,400 students register with us every year,” Oversen said. “But we have twice that many who don’t register. Events like these help us spread that message, and let students know that we are here for them.”
After holding a college-hour survey drive on Oct. 12 – featuring free refreshments and a gift card prize – Disability Services and the Student Life office teamed up to host a free guest lecture on Oct. 13 by professional music interpreter Amber Galloway-Gallego.
Galloway-Gallego discussed her unique career, which involves signing and interpreting for the hearing impaired at major concerts and live music events. Over the years, she was stood alongside such major acts as Madonna, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga and Rage Against the Machine, and regularly performs at festival like South by Southwest, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza.
Contrary to popular opinion, Galloway-Gallego said the deaf can experience and benefit from music in much the same way as those who can hear.
“Scientists have found that vibrations, as well as other sounds that go into the brain, trigger the same areas in deaf people as music triggers in hearing people,” said Galloway-Gallego, who is hearing impaired herself. “So deaf people can connect to music.”
During concerts, she uses both sign language and a diverse range of movements to convey not only the words and the music, but the meaning and feel of a song. She bounces along to the beat, plays air guitar and air keyboards during solos, and pantomimes the actions and emotions implied by the lyrics.
“You have to understand, deaf people cherish who they are,” she said. “They don’t need to be fixed…But they should not be secluded from everything we experience and love. We as hearing people have done that, so we have to be the change. We have to make that happen.”
To learn more about Disability Services at Brookdale, click here. To find out about upcoming student life events, check out the SLA Events Calendar.
Check out more photos of Disability Awareness Week here.