Diversability Month at WPCC encourages celebration, reflection of differences

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Oct. 8, 2020 – Western Piedmont Community College celebrates Diversability Month this October as a way of learning more about diversity and accessibility.

WPCC student Hannah Surby chalks an art piece outside of Moore Hall.

WPCC student Hannah Surby chalks an art piece outside of Moore Hall.

Diversability Month allows WPCC students and employees to experience and reflect on challenges individuals face due to physical, mental, emotional or learning differences. Due to COVID-19, this year’s activities will be mostly virtual.

“Bringing awareness about disabilities is important because students and employees need to know about the issues and barriers that students with disabilities face on campus or in their classes,” said WPCC student Jessica Davis. “It will help develop a better understanding about students with disabilities and their issues. If an issue arises, hopefully a student or employee can help remove the issue or barrier and make the situation better.”

Events kicked off with Chalk The Walk, an event where the WPCC community decorates campus sidewalks with supportive messages and art focusing on the month’s themes. WPCC student Hannah Surby led the 2020 Chalk The Walk, drawing the Diversability logo outside Hildebrand Hall on campus.

This year, in addition to on-campus art, the community is asked to share their own – chalk or other art forms – all month long using #WPCCDiversability on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The five entries that get the most likes and/or comments on social media will win a $15 gift certificate to a business of their choice.

“Hopefully we can spread awareness about disabilities and how people can do anything despite the challenges they face,” Surby said. “We want to include everybody – no matter disability, no matter culture, whatever. Just do the best that you can.”

Virtually, WPCC students and employees can learn more about diversity and accessibility by participating in a YouTube Watch-A-Thon. The WPCC Student Government Association created a YouTube playlist with stories and perspectives of individuals who have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to accomplish life goals while navigating barriers and overcoming limitations. The playlist is available at www.wpcc.edu/diversability/.

As part of the Watch-A-Thon, students and employees can enter their names for weekly drawings by emailing studentservices@wpcc.edu and listing the videos they watched. Each video watched counts as one drawing submission. Winners will be notified each Friday in October.

The impact of COVID-19 has changed more than just the setting of Diversability Month. It has brought new challenges to learning and communicating.

WPCC student Jessica Davis chalks "Don't judge a disability by its visibility" on campus.

WPCC student Jessica Davis chalks “Don’t judge a disability by its visibility” on campus.

“This year, the COVID-19 mask mandate has made it more difficult for deaf and hard of hearing people,” Davis said. “I am a hard of hearing student at WPCC, and the mask mandate has become a troublesome issue in class and on campus for me because I rely on lip reading.”

Considering this potential barrier, WPCC provided clear shields to all instructors and key staff this semester to make communication easier.

“WPCC’s commitment to awareness has resulted in a focus on what individuals can do and not what disables them,” Karla Lanier, WPCC Disability Services coordinator, said. “That means constantly staying aware of potential barriers and ensuring obstacles are appropriately addressed so that all students have equal opportunity to pursue their educational goals.”

Diversability Month has been celebrated annually at WPCC since 2017 and began because students affected by physical and educational barriers wanted their experiences, perspectives and capabilities to be more fully understood. Lanier said students with disabilities have expressed in the past how they want others to understand they can accomplish anything with extra work, accommodations and adaptability. Others, she said, have stated they see their disabilities as gifts rather than limitations.

Diversability Month is sponsored by the SGA, coordinated by the Office of Disability Services and supported by the Western Piedmont Foundation. More updates will be announced on the college’s website and social media. Learn more at www.wpcc.edu/diversability/.