Students to spend a day in disabled persons’ shoes
ASI will host an event to raise awareness of disabilities during Veterans Week.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that “A Day in Our Shoes” was designed to raise awareness of disabled veterans. It is an event to raise awareness for disabled students.
A man wheels himself across campus. A woman claims there’s a constant ringing in her ears. A student wearing black glasses lightly taps the ground to make sure the coast is clear.
Cal State Long Beach students will have a chance to experience the life of disabled persons at the event “A Day in Our Shoes” during Veterans Week, a week honoring campus veterans, according to Christopher Vickery, Associated Students Inc. secretary of disability affairs.
“[This event] is going to give them a more psychological perspective,” Vickery said. “What we’re doing is more of a personal enlightenment for people who are wanting to do the event. It allows them to evaluate [how their peers live].”
At Wednesday’s event, students will tell the front desk attendant in the ASI Government Office a disability they are interested in experiencing. Participants will then be provided with props to simulate the chosen disability.
According to Vickery, some of the disabilities — which will include schizophrenia, paraplegia, cerebral palsy and distorted vision — will require students to RSVP and last a shorter amount of time.
Reservations for paraplegia have been filled, but Vickery said there are walk-in experiences available throughout the event.
Walk-in disabilities will include visual impairment, hearing impairment and writing disability. Students will also be given an exit survey to fill out after returning the props.
Following the “Day in Our Shoes” event, Director of Veteran Affairs Marshall Thomas will give a speech on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic disabilities in University Student Union, Room 205 from 3 to 4 p.m., according to Vickery.
Thomas said that 20 to 30 percent of people who have served in the military might have PTSD or a traumatic brain injury and that he wants to help veterans in any way he can, whether it be through counseling, medical treatment or just enabling others to understand.
PTSD, Thomas said, is not limited to veterans but is a natural reaction to an unnatural occurrence that can be experienced by anyone.
“[Say] you’ve been in a car accident … Next time you get back into a car and you’re driving again, you tend to drive a lot differently,” Thomas said. “Over time, that typically will go away … The problem with [military-related] PTSD is that it’s something that doesn’t go away as easily as something like a car accident.”
“A Day in Our Shoes” dates back to the ‘70s when Steve Horn was university president, according to Peter Perbix, disabled student services coordinator of support services and advising.
“The idea is to have people that are able-bodied see what it feels like to have a disability,” Perbix said. “Usually [it’s] a physical disability, but in more modern times, we have different ways of simulating more of a psychological or learning disability.”
Perbix, who uses a wheelchair, said he wants participants to gain more understanding through experience.
“I want them to understand … how difficult it is to open a door, how difficult it is to do some of the more basic things that most people do,” he said. “[This is] to see, on a daily basis, some of the challenges that are faced.”
Perbix said that after pushing a wheelchair for about an hour or two, some students will feel exhausted.
“Their arms are going to feel like they’re going to fall off … and the first time they get to a little bit of a hill that they never thought was a big deal … they’d go, ‘Wow,’” Perbix said. “It illustrates quickly what the issue is.”
The event will take place on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students may check out props from the ASI Government Office in USU, Room 311. For more information or to RSVP for disabilities, contact Christopher Vickery by Monday at Christopher.Vickery@Student.Csulb.edu or (562) 972-1116.