UWG hosted their annual Disabilities Awareness Day Oct. 24 and welcomed back former student Aimee Copeland, who lives life as a quad-amputee after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria this past May; as well as Danielle Vincent, a student who suffered a brain injury in 2006 during a car accident; Hannah Perkins, a current marketing major who is deaf; and Justin Wilson, a UWG graduate born with muscular dystrophy who now works with an advocacy group in Atlanta. The four students sat on a panel and discussed some of their difficulties and accomplishments to current UWG students and faculty.
The panel was asked a wide range of questions, including questions about their dating lives and how their lives have changed due to being “differently abled.” Another question the panel was asked was to discuss the most challenging aspects about living “differently abled” and what was most challenging about being disabled on campus.
Panel member, Wilson, thinks most challenges come from limitations others place on disabled people.
“Some of the most difficult challenges really don’t come from within myself, but from the limitations others place on me. When they see you they think, ‘well he can’t do this or he can’t do that’,” said Wilson.
Wilson also discussed the difficulty of being in a wheelchair on campus and the fact that many places were not wheelchair accessible when he went to school at UWG.
“When I started at UWG, lots of offices weren’t accessible to me—Residence Life was upstairs and Career Services was upstairs with no elevator, which is part of the reason we started Disabilities Day,” said Wilson.
Copeland reiterated the fact that the most challenging aspect of living life “differently abled” was accessibility in general.
“Being in a wheelchair, it’s hard to pick things up off the ground and it’s hard to get things out of cabinets, so if I drop something on the ground I just think ‘I guess I’m not using that anymore’,” said Copeland.
Copeland said that although living life as a quad-amputee gets easier each and every day, she still faces new challenges, which encourage her to invent new and creative ways of performing daily tasks.
“Everything is a little harder, but thinking outside the box can be very entertaining,” said Copeland.
Perkins, a panel member and deaf student who is president of the Achievers, a student organization on campus that promotes awareness for students with disabilities, helped coordinate the event with the organization.
One of the activities that returned to this year’s Disabilities Day event was the popular wheelchair rally, which gave participants the chance to tour the UWG campus on wheelchairs in order to experience life from a different perspective.
Blaze Sports America also gave attendees the chance to participate in adaptive games and other sports related-activities, including “blind kickball.” The event even gave participants the chance to perform daily tasks, such as tying shoes, making a sandwich and stacking cups, all while experiencing various physical limitations.