Disability institute enlightens students on disability community

SF State recently opened its doors to a new disability institute with hopes of educating students, staff and faculty about disability history and encouraging empowerment on campus.

Located in the Humanities Building, the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability has made its prime focus to promote disability studies by academic and cultural approaches.

Disability Rocks!: Disability & Music at the Longmore Institute

When: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 14

Where: Humanities Building 135

Cost Free!

“(The institute) aims to influence,” Catherine Kudlick, history professor and director of the institute said. “We want people to look at how disability is in every field.”

The institute is named in honor and memory of the late Paul K. Longmore who unexpectedly passed away in 2010. Longmore was an SF State history professor and directed the former Institute on Disability on campus.

“Longmore was one of those people who could wear both hats seamlessly,” Emily Beitiks, assistant director institute, said.

The institute offers students resources for internship opportunities in the disability field and to the wider disability community in the Bay Area.

“It’s a great resource for SFSU and the campus community,”  said Lee Staub, a graduate student studying special education with a focus on orientation and mobility. “There are a lot of exciting projects underway.”

While the institute continues to grow, the staff is doing research and planning for numerous projects on topics such as history, film and pop culture.  Through their projects, the staff hopes to show how the perception of disability is changing.

“Our goal is to bring in students to learn about disability history, rights and culture,” Beitiks said.

The institute also hopes to be a cultural center on campus and give students a place to have an open discussion about disability, whether they are interested in hearing about history or need resources for a paper based on it. The staff also hopes that events hosted by the institute will help build the cultural identity around disability.

“We hope to have more events to give people a chance to learn outside of the classroom about disability,” Beitiks said.

Although there is a Disability Programs and Resource Center at SF State, the institute does not offer the same services at the center, such as testing accommodations. The institute wants to promote more ideas and thoughts about disability and create a place of intellectual thinking on campus, according to Kudlick.

“There’s so much possibility for disability changing,” Beitiks said. “The institute’s projects hope to develop a voice and get that perspective out there.”

Currently, the institute houses a growing library in HUM 135, which features literature focused on disability studies. The staff hopes that students come into the institute and walk away rethinking, learning about and getting interested in disability and its history.

“We just want to see people have a new opportunity to learn about disability,” Beitiks said. “We want to be a part of opening people up to empowering themselves towards disability.”

The institute is hosting Disability Rocks!: Disability & Music at the Longmore Institute Nov. 14 to shine a light on how disability influences popular music. Music historian Anthony Tusler will be speaking at the invent about how disability has influenced various music genres from country to blues. Everyone is welcome to the free event.

“Disability brings something extra to who you are,” Kudlick said. “It is not something to be embarrassed about, and at the institute we want to go beyond awareness.”

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