March is Disability awareness month and Indiana State will celebrate with a multitude of events, starting with a reception to kick them off. 

This year the theme is “People Not Punchlines.”

“The theme is created by the governor's Council. This year is ‘people not punchlines.’ That is the theme for the whole month so programming encompasses different seen and unseen disabilities like one will be on just that theme and what that means that people with disabilities are people and not the punchline of a joke,” said Dr. Elonda Ervin, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Services and Programs.

 These events range from panel discussions to sessions to learn a specific trade in their signing workshop.

“They're going to be a community-based listening session at the end of the month, trying to get those that are part of Indiana State, in Terre Haute and surrounding communities to come to campus in and tell them what the issues are in the disability community, what services are not being rendered and not being rendered well,” said Dr. Ervin. 

Indiana State values diversity and inclusion, and these events are made to encompass these ideals.

 Dr. Ervin talks about what an Indiana State student would gain from the events.

“I think programming provides more insight into the lives of others. We may see someone that walks passed us that may be doing the signing Workshop, but we don't know because we don't take into account that part of their identity. So, we're just trying to share so that we're more aware in cognizant that people are different and it's not surface-level,” said Ervin. 

Breanna Pierce, Sycamore SafeZone and Disability Awareness Month coordinator, has similar thoughts about what an Indiana State student would learn at these events. 

“I think that an Indiana State student can get a lot of knowledge about the diversity that we have around campus. Not a lot of people think about being able to communicate with someone who is deaf and who only knows sign language, or an individual who has a helping dog. We are just teaching people about the different identities,” said Pierce. 

The month of March contains a number of events in this series, all of which have different activities with different focuses. Pierce discusses why it’s important to have these events.

 “We are trying to inform people of different disabilities and making it known that it is a human right to discuss and learn. We do it with in different discussions. We have a signing 101 event, we have an event about people not punchlines highlighting that we are human, we are not the butt of the joke. We have more about a finding resource panel for individuals who are family members to individuals within the disability community,” said Pierce.  

There are many opportunities to attend an event and learn about the struggles, technology and experience of those within the community. 

 Pierce expressed wishes for those to attend: “I'm asking people to come and educate themselves because this is a great event and we have them every year and there's always something new that we talked about. It's such a great thing for the campus.” 

The events include: “Representation Matters” on March 10 at 5 pm, “Using Free, Low Cost Technology” on March 11 at 5 pm and “Signing 101” on March 12 at 5 pm. The other events can be viewed on Indiana State’s Multicultural Services and Programs website under Upcoming Events.