Did you know that George Washington, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Beethoven and Walt Disney all had disabilities? Many famous historical figures struggled with disabilities, but the disabilities themselves may have been instrumental in shaping their perspectives and helping them achieve their goals.
The Census Bureau estimates that 54 million people in the United States have some level of disability. They live with, battle and overcome their disabilities every day. October is Disability Awareness Month at Penn State. The theme of the month is “Diversability,” which focuses on the abilities and talents of people with disabilities. As part of the month-long recognition, a variety of events will aim to promote discussion and exploration of topics related to accessibility, equality and inclusion for people with disabilities. Events are sponsored by Penn State’s Disability Advisory Group, a consortium of individuals working together to enhance disability initiatives.
• Rob Guttenberg acquired multiple physical and cognitive disabilities at the age of 29 as the result of a brain hemorrhage. Guttenberg will share memories about having brain surgery and his fight to regain his memory and physical abilities. 6-8 p.m. Oct. 8, 110 Music Building I.
• Josh Swiller, author and advocate for the deaf, will talk about his memoir “The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa.” Swiller will share his experiences traveling throughout the world and his journey transitioning from being deaf to regaining his hearing after geting a cochlear implant. 7-8 p.m. Oct. 17, Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library.
• Despite losing his legs at birth, Rohan Murphy was a successful wrestler in high school; he also wrestled at Penn State. Murphy has been featured in Sports Illustrated and on the ABC News. He now devotes his time to sharing his story with others as a professional motivational speaker. 8-10 p.m. Oct. 30, , HUB Auditorium.
• Penn State faculty and kinesiology students will host a campus-wide initiative promoting the health benefits of physical activity. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 15, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Palmer Museum of Art patio.
• When a 1975 diving accident left Michael Platzer quadriplegic, he sought expression through art. His mouth-painted artwork has been exhibited throughout Pennsylvania and was selected for the Christopher Reeve Foundation and Habitat for Humanity Holiday Card Series. 1-3 p.m. Oct. 23, Residents Life Cultural Lounge.
• Those interested in wheelchair basketball can paricipate in a game, observe, or help by timing or scoring the games. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, White Building Big Gymnasium.
The public is invited to attend these and more events planned during Disability Awareness Month. A schedule with detailed information about events is available at http://equity.psu.edu/ods/diversability.
Penn State encourages qualified people with disabilities to participate in its activities. Those who require accommodation or have questions about physical access can contact the Office for Disability Services at 863-1807.
Marianne Karwacki is a member of Penn State’s disability advisory group. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.