Dot Nary Speaks to KU Students About People with Disabilities
By Katie Rempala
Dot Nary made a presentation on “Inclusive Leadership: Why People with Disabilities Matter” for the Student Involvement and Leadership Center at the University of Kansas on March 10, 2014. Nary interacted with a group of students on leadership, diversity, proper disability terminology, and accessibility.
“We are surrounded by disability, but often don’t realize it,” Nary said. One out of five people in the United States has a disability, making people with disabilities the largest minority in the country.
Nary noted that it is important for future leaders to be aware of the issues that are faced by people with disabilities, who will likely be among their colleagues, managers, employees and customers. She gave examples that students might encounter in future workplace situations that demonstrated the importance of disability and the role of accommodations. “Everyone has capabilities, and society is stronger when everyone can contribute,” Nary said.
Nary also emphasized the importance of using person-first language and proper terminology in regards to people with disabilities. “The way we think about disability is impacted by our language,” Nary said. She described the same event in different ways to illustrate that different meanings can be conveyed by word choice. She also discussed the difference between the terms “wheelchair user” and “wheelchair-bound.” “I am not bound to my wheelchair. It is actually quite liberating,” she said, and noted that “Disability does not mean sickness.”
Nary recommended referring to the 8th edition of the Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities for examples of terminology that is generally preferred by people with disabilities.