Bowdoin Accessibility Team Plans Celebration
Lesley Levy, director of student accessibility, and Juli Haugen, digital accessibility specialist, are planning the celebration with help from other campus departments and student organizations.
"It's important to do this to both raise awareness of those with disabilities—and that includes students, staff, and faculty—about the resources available to them at Bowdoin, and to let the broader community know that this is an important part of inclusion and diversity at the College," Levy said.
The multiday event begins with a talk by Clara Brown, a Team USA Paralympic cyclist from Maine. She will share the short biopic, Ability, followed by conversation and a reception on Thursday, December 2, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Roux Lantern.
The following evening the American Sign Language Club and the Bowdoin Film Society are screening CODA, a "2021 coming-of-age comedy-drama film that follows a hearing teenage girl who is a child of deaf adults (CODA, for short)." Three actors who are deaf star in the film, which is notable for being the first feature movie with burned-in subtitles throughout.
On Friday, Haugen and others will also be offering stickers and pins and sharing information about assistive technology tools that can help people with disabilities read, write, study, listen to lectures, and participate in classes.
The Bowdoin Library has ordered eighteen titles in honor of Disabled Person's Day, as well as pulled titles from its own collection for a display.
On Saturday morning, people are invited to share a van to explore Wolfe's Neck State Park, which features accessible paths with beautiful views.
Levy and Haugen say they're available to meet with any student, staff, or faculty member with a disability about the ways Bowdoin can support them.
"The more we can do to reduce the burden on the individuals with disabilities and create a world that is more accessible, the better," Levy said. "Many people with disabilities are made to feel like they are a burden, and we all have to do better to eliminate barriers for them rather than expect them to change."
Both Lesley Levy and Juli Haugen are members of an accessibility taskforce—a group of faculty, staff, and students. The taskforce, which is in its fifth year, has contributed to making Bowdoin facilities, events, websites, and curricular materials more accessible.
Levy, director of student accessibility, supports and advises students with disabilities, chronic health issues, and temporary injuries or impairments, particularly those who need accommodations in the classroom or elsewhere on campus. She oversees the College’s Academic Test Center which supports students with test-related accommodations and she collaborates with faculty and nearly every department across the College to ensure access for students of all abilities.
Haugen, Bowdoin's first digital accessibility specialist, connects people with services and tools that help make materials—such as PDF articles in academic journals or videos without captions—more accessible. These assistive services and technology tools are available to everyone—both those who have determined that they need the formats to learn better as well as those who simply find them more convenient (perhaps they're traveling or commuting and want to listen to an article en route).