Harper College

Disability History Display traces 3,000 years of history

What was life in the past like for people with disabilities? Harper College, which works to ensure all students can equally participate in opportunities by providing the highest level of access and services, is taking a look at 3,000 years of seldom-told history through a Disability History Display.

The 23-panel Disability History Display is available for viewing through Friday, October 18, in the main corridor of the Avanté Center.

Put on by Access and Disability Services, the display aims to educate students about the treatment of people with disabilities in the past, as well as a way to promote disability culture on campus.

“There is a sense of belonging and community that we are trying to bring to campus so people don’t feel isolated in their experience with having a disability,” said Erin Broskowski, an access advocate. “They can meet other people and build up their network of folks so they feel a little less alone.”

April Maman, another access advocate, explained that it can be difficult for people with disabilities to be recognized and fully accepted by their peers. As an example, she points to students in schools serving the deaf and hard of hearing community who developed their own culture after being isolated from those who didn’t share their disability.

“People judge you on how you look,” Maman said. “A person who has invisible disability, especially someone who has chronic fatigue, anxiety or a learning disability, is often overlooked. We want to make sure they are recognized without being judgmental.”

The display, which traces 3,000 years of history, highlights information about various social reforms, community integration efforts, and protests led by activists with disabilities.

Harper offers a variety of accommodations for students with disabilities, including assistance with notetaking and assessments, as well as the TAP program which aims to ease the transition into college life for students with autism. Harper is also working on improving the language used to discuss disabilities and inclusivity on campus.

The Disability History Display is one of many events aimed at increasing visibility of people with disabilities at Harper. To learn more, visit harpercollege.edu.

Last Updated: 3/14/24