A series of seminars, presentations and a wheelchair basketball game are among the activities scheduled during the 10th annual Ability Awareness Week celebration that starts Monday, October 8 at The University of Texas at El Paso.
This year’s program, which has a theme of “America’s Workforce: Empowering All,” is done in conjunction with October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Throughout the week, there will be presentations about employment, service animals, domestic violence and support services for students.
“We want to raise awareness of the needs of students with disabilities and the many career opportunities that are out there,” said Bill Dethlefs, Ph.D., director of UTEP’s Center for Center for Accommodations and Support Services. “It’s crucial for us to get that message out because national studies show that people with disabilities have fewer job opportunities and part of the reason is because they do not have college degrees.”
Activities will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, October 8 in the Tomás Rivera Conference Center on the third floor of Union Building East. The program will include a proclamation from U.S. President Donald Trump read by El Paso City Rep. Casandra Hernandez Brown and the awarding of honors to groups and individuals who made a positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities.
UTEP’s Angela Frederick, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and a social justice advocate, will make the keynote presentation about “Disability: From Awareness to Equity.”
Frederick is a researcher, wife and mother who is blind. Doctors diagnosed her with retinitis pigmentosa at age 3 and she slowly lost her sight through the years. She called learning Braille as a teenager the transformative point in her life that led to her academic and professional success. After she earned her undergraduate degree, Frederick became an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer and then an employee with a student loan company before she decided to pursue her doctoral degree. She joined UTEP in 2015.
One of the week’s highlights is the annual wheelchair basketball game that will pit the El Paso Air Wheelers against the Tucson Lobos at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 11, in UTEP’s Don Haskins Center. The Hillside Elementary School Singing and Signing Choir will perform the National Anthem. The school is home to the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf.
On a related note, approximately 50 employers and disability support providers will participate in a resource and career fair from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. that day in the Haskins Center concourse.