Treating the disabled with proper respect

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The Office of Multicultural and International Student Services hosted its “Disability Etiquette Seminar” yesterday. It was led by Kelley Osborn and focused on the polite and politically correct treatment of persons with disabilities.

Kelley Osborn L.P.C. is the Disabilities Services Coordinator for the Counseling Center at Sam Houston.

The topic of disabilities is not only professionally a concern, but personally as well, since he is legally blind due to Muscular Degeneration.

Osborn discussed different aspects of disabilities, including political correctness relating to disabilities, communication, privacy and personal space, and dignity and respect. He emphasized the importance of respect and courtesy when communicating.

“Simply view the person as any other person,” Osborn said. “React with them as you would any other person.”

He also discussed the pertinence of common collegiate disabilities. According to Osborn, 75 percent of college students with disabilities fall into two common categories: learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

“I think it’s very important- there are more and more people with disabilities and I think it’s becoming more of an issue that needs to be addressed,” said attendee Jayna Campbell.

Osborn reiterated the uniqueness of everybody, especially when relating to persons with disabilities. As with any other life experience, no two people share exactly the same views, trials, or history.

“Respect the uniqueness of each person’s experience. It’s better to try to avoid making comparisons and to respect the uniqueness of each person’s situation,” Osborn said. “No two people, even with the same type of disability, have the same experience.”

Osborn also presented first hand anecdotes and described experiences with some of the difficulties of a reality that many are not familiar with.

“I thought it was good- it’s a different perspective. It’s good to get first hand experiences with people with disabilities and how [they react] to your reactions and how they perceive your reactions,” Campbell said.

The next MISSconceptions event is “MISSConceptions: Homosexuality, Morality and Diversity.” The event will be Thursday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m. in LSC 320. The session will be led by John Corvino, a philosophy professor from Wayne State University.

The session will be an open forum with a diverse group of students. The dialogue will be open for participation, and will deal with stereotypes surrounding the issues related to homosexuality.

“What’s great about the forum is that Dr. Corvino is really known for being very open to different thought processes,” Ashley McDonough, MISS Program Coordinator, said. “His whole presentation is about having different viewpoints and talking through them to get an understanding. We’re definitely going to have a lot of discussion, which is really all you can ask for.”

The MISSconceptions sessions are a recent addition to Sam Houston’s seminar series. The sessions will be hosted every semester to raise student awareness of common issues and stereotypes. Other events included with MISSconceptions series were Monday’s “Study Abroad Program” and Tuesday’s “Ultimate Money Skills Program.”

“We saw a need with the office to reach out and tackle bigger issues,” McDonough said. “We want to have a way for students to come together and discuss different things, whether it be prejudice, stereotypes or disabilities.”

The final session of MISSconceptions week will be Monday, Oct.29. The event, “MISSconceptions: African Vs. African-American Culture” will be at 2 p.m. in LSC 320.

The speaker is a Sam Houston student, and will be discussing misconceptions and stereotypes associated with the different ethnic groups.