The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs

Volume X, Issue 2 April-May 2009 Editor: James Walborn

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This year the OSD Volunteer Banquet heralded the laurels of Lewis Carroll, as the beloved story writer had several disabilities such as stuttering, deafness in one ear, and migraine headaches. The OSD utilized 500 volunteers in the past year. They were honored at the luncheon which was rich with artistic endeavors. Many beautiful handmade decorations enhanced the Alice in Wonderland theme, which Michelle Shaw and her many student volunteers spent the last six weeks creating. The 150 guests, students, and employees enjoyed the Classical guitar music performed by Karen S; she and several other students shared their original poetry and expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the volunteers and the OSD staff for all of their hard work. Dr. King conveyed his appreciation of volunteerism, Melissa H provided information regarding the Alice in Wonderland theme, and the AT Lab staff provided a presentation on Assistive Technology. Many donated gifts were given away to the guests. Lots of thanks to Chartwells for providing the delicious food, and kudos goes to the SGA for funding this successful event. [Please note: Much of the beautiful artwork can be seen on display in the Boca OSD hallway.]


A big OSD hug goes out to everyone who has volunteered their time to help others. While people receive personal gratification from volunteering their services, their impact upon the individual student and the University as a whole is tremendous. The OSD utilized about 500 volunteers during the 2008-09 academic year to assist students with disabilities, which saved the University $346,000. Opportunities included volunteer notetakers, tutors, scribes, readers, and research assistants. Volunteer hours can be included on the students official transcripts.

Faculty can greatly assist a student with a disability who requires a notetaker by reading the Volunteer Notetaker Script to the class in a timely manner, repeating the request in the next class period if someone has not volunteered yet. The student with a disability is not to be identified by name, as confidentiality is essential.


Peggy, the guide puppy in training who has been visiting the OSD these last many months, is now enrolled full-time in Southeastern Guide Dog School, in Palmetto, FL. Parting was bittersweet for staff and students as she will be sadly missed as she moves on in her professional life.


During the Student Organization Leadership Awards Reception the Owls Supporting Diversity Club won the Student Organization Spirit Award, which is quite an achievement for a Club which has only been in existence two years. The Club participated in 23 events this past year.


This unique event was sponsored by the Boca Raton Advisory Board for People with Disabilities, the City of Boca Raton, and Shake a Leg Miami. Free admission, free parking, and free boat rides, food, and drinks were provided to all individuals with disabilities, their families, and caregivers. A couple of hundred people showed up who represented a wide diverse population of people with disabilities, including OSD students and Club members, who had a enjoyable time with the fun activities despite the threat of rain.


Each and every Thursday is FAU Day at Jamba Juice in University Commons, across Glades Road from the Boca Campus. Twenty percent of sales will benefit the OSD. Just mention FAU when purchasing. Please help spread the word among FAU supporters!


Please assist us by completing the attached OSD Newsletter Survey. Please copy and e-mail it to or print and send it through campus mail to the Office for Students with Disabilities, Bldg. 80 - SU 133. We value your opinions to determine future articles and features. Thanks.


Congratulations to everyone who is graduating this spring. We would like to share some of their stories with you.


Melissa H has just earned dual Master’s Degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling. She has Cerebral Palsy, which is a neurological disorder caused from a lack of oxygen to the brain, occurring during the birthing process. “It does not affect my intellectual abilities, but does affect my motor skills.” She uses a wheelchair for mobility, and does not drive a car because her reflexes do not react fast enough. “My disability is just a part of who I am. I live alone and I do all of the cooking and house cleaning myself.”
Melissa has already been accepted into two universities, but she hopes to earn her PhD from FAU instead because her family is here. She wants to work for an agency during the week and slowly build up her own practice on weekends, working with children with autism. She is fluent in a form of sign language which allows autistic children to communicate.

“I’ve learned a lot by taking my final internship with the OSD. It’s been very educational learning how to work with a variety of different people.” A cancer survivor, Melissa advises: “Keep trying. You may face many obstacles, but if something is what you’re meant to do, eventually you’ll find a way to do it.”


Born in El Salvador, Monica V grew up in the U.S. She doesn’t allowed her blindness to interfere with her independence, which is evident by the fact that she has just earned her Masters Degree in Social Work. “I have to be more conscientious about managing time as it takes me longer to complete tasks. I have to allow myself flexibility in order not to become overwhelmed.”
Monica encourages others to be strong advocates for themselves. “The general public may not know your needs as they may have never given it a thought in the past.” Building a good network of support is important, “especially during those difficult times.”


Earning his BA in Elementary Education, David V refused to allow his learning disability in reading comprehension to detract him from his goal. “Reading was always a problem for me because I have a processing delay of information and spatial issues. I graduated high school with the second lowest average in my class. I was told that a four year university would not be in my future.” After attending a community college, David visited FAU, then applied for admission.

“The OSD changed my life - it’s like a big family here. I’ve received so much support, including tutoring and notetakers, and the scholarships have helped financially.” David is graduating with honors, with a GPA of 3.86 and membership in four Honor Societies. He plans on pursuing his Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education from FAU. “I want to be able to help other people who have disabilities.”
His advice to others is, “Perseverance.” He quotes directly out of the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could: “I know I can. I know I can. Don’t give up, and don’t always accept it when people tell you that you can’t do it. Go for it.”


Kay S is legally blind, with Retinitis Pigmentosa (night blindness, with narrowing tunnel vision) and has a Math Learning Disability. A non-traditional student (she acknowledges being 60), she had to give up driving and her secretarial position due to her vision loss. Utilizing her degree from a massage school and her knowledge gained at FAU, she plans on opening up a small business with her daughter, assisting patients with medical problems.

Kay advises others: “Mind over matter works. There’s always a way to do something, so put your mind to work on the problem. Don’t let someone’s attitude dictate what you do.” She reminds others, “One person may not realize they can help another because they do not know that a problem exists.”


We want to encourage comments and contributions from our readers. Please address any comments to Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. Current and past issues are available at

This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca: SU 133; phone 561.297.3880, TTY 561.297.0358. Davie: MD I, Room 104; phone 954.236.1222, TTY 954.236.1146. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.

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