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Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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Emerson celebrating 25th ADA anniversary

ADA 25th anniversary logo

Emerson’s Disabilities Services Office and FACE Lab will be hosting informational tables, sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Boston Common on Wednesday, July 22, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The celebration will have speeches, music, educational demonstrations and booths, games, yoga, and more. The Emerson participants will be wearing Emerson T-shirts and begin the day with a festive march to the Common.

Rhoda Gibson ’79, a member of the MassADAPT advocacy group, said she approached Emerson about being a sponsor of the celebration after attending her 35th class reunion last year.

“Since Emerson is [such a strong] promoter of diversity and looks at people as people… I thought it would be prudent for Emerson to be part of the 25th ADA celebration, especially since it’s on Boston Common,” said Gibson, who is a member of Emerson’s EBONI Alumni Association. “When I came to [the] reunion, I noticed how handicapped accessible the dorms are, and how it’s wheelchair accessible in most of the school. I was very proud of that.”

Rhoda Gibson

Rhoda Gibson '79 of MassADAPT will be at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Boston Common on July 22, along with several members of the Emerson community. (Courtesy Photo)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most transformative civil rights laws in United States history. It mandates equal access and opportunities for people with disabilities.

Gibson, who became partially paralyzed in 2008, said there is a lot of work that needs to be done to help people with disabilities, particularly when it comes to equal access to housing.

“I do mostly everything I was doing before, but I can’t drive to my friends’ houses because they’re not accessible,” she said. “There are a lot of apartments available in Boston, but most are not handicapped accessible.”

Gibson majored in communications, and ran a catering business in the 1990s.

“Because of my Emerson education and with Emerson helping me to be outspoken, I was able to pick up the advocacy cause to help other people with disabilities,” she said. “My Emerson training has helped me in each direction I’ve gone in my life, from being an entrepreneur to now an advocate.”

At the ADA celebration, Gibson will oversee “comfort people,” or volunteers to assist people with “invisible disabilities,” such as people on the autism spectrum who experience anxiety in large crowds.

Disabilities Services Office

At the table hosted by Emerson’s Disabilities Services Office (DSO), attendees can learn about:

·      Differences between high school and college accommodations for disabilities;

·      General information for students, parents, and teachers;

·      The types of accommodations available at Emerson, including assistive technology;

·      The types of programs and initiatives offered by DSO, including peer mentoring for students with disabilities; campus events, including Cirque de De-Stress (which includes therapy dogs) and Light It Up Blue for autism awareness; and the Health and Mobility Challenges support group DSO conducts in collaboration with Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services.

FACE Lab

At the table hosted by the Emerson College FACE Lab, which conducts research on Autism Spectrum Disorder, there will be a sign-up sheet available for anyone interested in the Lab’s services, as well as short screenings for people who are interested in participating in studies.