i It’s more important to focus on the ability rather than the disability and here’s why | College Writing: Debate(s) In Higher Education
14. December 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog Post 4

AJ Floodstrand

In the 2011-2012 academic post-secondary school year shows that eleven percent of undergraduate students have an intellectual or developmental disability also commonly known as IDD. While this statistic shows that individuals with disabilities are indeed successful in higher education.  It raises the question of the how is the quality and quantity of the services and inclusiveness for those who have IDD. The challenges run from issues impacting in our world to our own community in De Pere. In order to be inclusive to all, we must provide superior inclusive environments for those individuals who have a disability.


Many individuals have several misconceptions of those who have a disability. There are significant differences between an intellectual disability and a physical disability, however, many individuals are unaware of the difference between the two. An individual who has a physical disability is categorized in the developmental of the acronym of IDD.  An individual who has a physical disability can have a broad range of physical challenges from having cerebral palsy to having achondroplasia.  An intellectual disability is categorized by significant limitations on intellectual functioning such as reasoning, learning and problem solving.  An individual with an intellectual disability may have complications ranging from their learning ability to social skills.  This might not be as recognizable as a physical disability but it doesn’t mean it’s less important.

With the misconceptions ranging from the knowledge, it also ranges acknowledging those who have a disability. When referring to an individual of who has a disability always use their name and then their disability. A common mistake when referring to someone who has a disability is this is Joe is autistic, interested say Joe has autism. By saying this and using People First Language puts the individual before the disability.


While all college campuses are required to have accessible bathrooms and ramps there is a reason to that. A 1992 Americans with Disability law required that any new public building built after 1992 such as hotels and restaurants to require full accessibility. In addition, the 1990 ADA act prohibits a qualifying person with disabilities the right to participate in services or programs they provide such as higher education. While these laws protect individuals who IDD it doesn’t always mean it’s properly followed.

Higher educational institutions such as the University of Virginia are aiming to the exceed the ADA law. From increasing their funds to help increase their accessibility for all individuals on their campus. The 1820 Thomas Jefferson architectural design is filled with staircases makes it nearly impossible for all individuals to have entire accessibility. Donald E. Sundgren associate vice president, and chief facilities officer believes that “We’re moving from accommodation to inclusively.” But with the significant costs to re-renovate these facilities comes challenging to the smaller institutions. Trinity Washington University believes receiving grants and donors for these projects are difficult. President of Trinity University,  Patricia McGuire believes that is hard to get donors for these projects because they are glamorous projects to donate too. While they might not be glamour organizations it needs to come from all. They are projects in absolute need.

At St. Norbert there is an office for helping individuals who have disabilities. The Academic Support Office provides for the needs of students who provide documentation of their disability. They also assist in guidance for students who may be struggling with their courses. Services include certified tutors, time management skills, accommodations on tests such as extra time on tests and services to provide other needs such as housing accommodations.  As far as the physical accommodation goes their mission statements believes that “St. Norbert College’s campus facilities are accessible, but all are not barrier free.” St. Norbert has most doors with automatic door openers and campus location elevators but they are not exactly in a  convenient location. However, the dorms are nearly impossible to seem accessible especially the first year dorms that have endless views of staircases or distance from campus buildings.

While these issues broaden to from education it also includes inclusion. in our community. In De Pere, there is a school for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) called Syble Hopp. Syble Hopp serves students who don’t have a school that provides educational support for those who have IDD.  While Syble Hopp is the tremendous school as it guides individuals to prepare for- the future, I believe that creates a barrier to inclusion and ability because of the inability for other school districts to provide superior support for those with IDD.

The problems for inclusiveness don’t just spot from the educational standpoint. While individuals without IDD sign up for football, chess club, other variety activities students with IDD have a lack of resources for extracurricular activities. In a thirty-mile Fox Valley radius, there are about nine thousand five hundred individuals with special needs. There are limited number of programs for individuals with IDD. Recent new programs such as the Miracle League which is a summer baseball organization for individuals ages four to nineteen who have IDD, Best Buddies which a national organization that is also on our campus helps form one on one relations with those individuals who have IDD.

The Miracle League and Best Buddies are trying to seek this problem of low rates inclusively. Their efforts begin with becoming inclusive by positively promoting the misconceptions of those who have IDD, inviting the community to the events and displaying how inclusiveness is key. But inclusion must not just come from these organizations it must come from all.

While there may be individuals who believe that everyone is included or that all higher education institutions meet the needs of individuals who have IDD. Yet, many individuals seem to be unaware of disabilities and how to become inclusive. A Great Britain study shows that nearly two-thirds of individuals feel uncomfortable talking to someone who has a disability. While education inclusion is coming more apparent this wouldn’t be a conversation if everyone had full accessibility on their campus.


While they are a significant amount of issues broadening from the misconceptions of disabilities, campus accessibility, quality of academic support resources and inclusively. In essence, all of the issues are critical to defeating the common stereotype of a disability. There has obviously been changes in the academic angle as well as the social standpoint of disabilities. However, I believe there is definitely room for improvement for awareness and inclusion.  At the end of the day, we must focus on the ability rather than the disability.

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