May 26, 2017.
Jessica Pierce was standing on the southeast corner of the campus quad last week asking passersby to race her in a very singular kind of competition.
“Do you want to try tie some shoelaces with one hand only and see how many much time that takes you?” she asked. Next to her, there was a table displaying a pair of untied H&M brown women’s shoes, her own.
Pierce is part of a group of disabled students that, on May 19, set up the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The international event’s main topic was how to make technology accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
Alex Marositz, the assistive technology specialist at the Disabled Students Program and Services office at PCC was working next to Pierce, challenging people to unplug their mouse from their computers for one hour and trying to get everything done with just the keyboard.
“We’re making sure everyone on campus knows about accessibility, how to design their documents and their videos,” Marositz said. “Getting the word out and letting everyone know that if you do a video, you need to put subtitles. It’s about including everyone.”
Jessica Pierce challenging students and staff to tie shoelace with one hand:
Marositz explained that there are many students on campus that would benefit from subtitles, from those that have some sort of audio processing disability to the international students who are learning a new language.
“Subtitles are important for a lot of people,” Marositz said. “Not only for those who are deaf.”
He thinks awareness is key to change.
“We’re just trying to get the word out so that everyone knows what an accessible website should have,” Marositz said. “Including you [the Courier].”
Another student, Wendy Wong, was quietly inviting people to go through an auditory hallucination simulation experience. Those who agreed, put headphones on and while hearing sarcastic and demeaning voices they would also try to follow a casual with conversation with Wong.
“I wanted people to learn a little bit more about mental illness and about schizophrenia,” Wong said, adding that most people with schizophrenia, a severe mental illness that affects one percent of the population. Those with it experience auditory hallucinations, particularly hearing voices.
In other disabilities such as dyslexia, that can be broadly defined as a developmental disability that alters the way the brain processes written material, deafness and epilepsy were represented and explained by PCC students to other students passing by the quad.
Holly Loughlin was trying to convey what it means to be dyslexic. On her makeshift table she had displayed incomprehensible letters.
“This is how a dyslexic sees letters,” Loughlin said. “It’s a bunch of mess. Sometimes dyslexic people say that letters are dancing, moving around. Their eyes don’t really focus, but it also affects comprehension and reversal of numbers and letters.”
Another student was raising awareness by telling her story.
Listen what’s it like for her to have a seizure and how she handles it:
Rosario Anguiano was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 16 and learned through the years to adapt to her disability. She’s about to transfer and has been accepted to the universities of Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Fullerton. She still doesn’t know which she will pick, but she knows she will study communications and will work towards raising awareness on disabilities.