Amplifying Disabled Voices

Chiara Bettelli Oukka, Staff Writer

In the words of Stephen Hawking, “Disability need not be an obstacle to success.” With March being International Disability Awareness Month, this statement holds a special significance. With the disabled community being spotlighted, this is an opportunity to highlight its valuable presence at Liberty. Not only that but now is the time to dispel preconceived notions and become better educated. 

For starters, many in the Liberty student body are or have direct ties to the disabled. Junior Anjali Dixit, whose brother has autism, believes that Disability Awareness Month should be discussed and celebrated as opposed to being a social taboo. 

“I think Disability Awareness Month is really important because a lot of people just don’t know what having a disability entails. There are so many people with disabilities all around us, and it’s important to have allocated time to just talk about it, learn what comes with having a disability, and understand how to be more accepting,” Dixit said.   

Disability awareness. The goal of this month is to make others aware of not only the plights of a disability but also the bounty of it. So how is one meant to educate oneself?  

“Read things written by disabled people or try to understand things from their point of view. Learn about some misconceptions that you might have and rectify them. Also, if you have the funds to donate, support them economically,” junior Nicole Treece said.  

Misconceptions, although being nullified, are still rampant. One false pretense that people have about a disability is that it is something inherently negative. Disability is not a malfunction that needs to be fixed, but rather something that defines a character and becomes a personality trait.  

“Liberty still has a long way to go because we’re so reactive and our school acts like a fix-it model. I really am a big advocate of focusing on a strength-based model. I firmly believe we all have areas that we are strong in, but we all struggle with certain things. We learn differently and need different support,” Liberty Psychologist Rebecca Ragland said. 

Ragland emphasizes employing the mentality that disability needs to be catered to or accommodated.