Frequently Asked Questions

What is a disability?

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act has a definition that states that impairment must fall under one of these three instances in order to be defined as a disability:
(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;
(B) a record of such an impairment; or
(C) being regarded as having such an impairment.

The United Nations has a different definition of disability that states that it is a restriction as a result of an impairment or lack of ability to perform an activity within the range that is considered usual for a human being.

The more current version of the ADA, now called the ADA Amendment Act of 2008 which has just recently passed unanimously in Senate, refines the definition of disability to define in the previous ADA “substantially limits” to mean “materially restricts” and other such interpretations of the phrases, “major life activity,” “major bodily function,” and “being regarded as having such an impairment.” This is the definition that is currently used in SDA communication and evaluation.

Why was SDA created?

Students with disabilities on campus felt that they were not being equally represented in associated activities.
Buildings throughout campus have proven to be inaccessible and provide barriers to students’ education.
Stereotypes and stigmas exist due to lack of education or misinformation.

What does SDA do?

Students for Disability Awareness functions as part of a network of individuals and organizations that works to provide the following services:

Serves as the collective voice of students with disabilities at WWU.
Assesses the WWU campus for accessibility issues and works with the Equal Opportunity Office and DBTAC to diminish these issues.
Appeals to the WWU Administration relating to appropriate funding and staffing of the disAbility Resources Office in Old Main 110 that aids over 400 WWU students with disabilities.
Coordinates activities and events that spread awareness and foster involvement in the disability rights movement and learn about disability culture.
Works with the Sustainable Transportation office and WTA to improve transportation on campus and places frequently used by students off campus.
Provides resources in print and alternative formatting about the rights of people with disabilities, responsibilities of employers, teachers, and others to recognize those rights, and additional information that aids students, staff, and faculty in their everyday lives.
Builds community and creates opportunity for students with disabilities at WWU.

How is SDA funded?

SDA is primarily funded through the Associated Students which provides the organization with $50 basic funding each year and additional funding upon request (at the AS Activity Council’s discretion).

When co-sponsoring events with other programs, the SDA works mostly with related AS Resource and Outreach Program Offices, the Equal Opportunity Office, and disAbility Resources for Students. University Catering and University Dining Services, and University Residences have also been generous with their support in graphic design, food services, and publicity.

Any money that is not spent for co-sponsored programs or granted from the Associated Students is raised from fundraising and donations. This year SDA is asking community members, businesses, and students alike to help fund the largest event of the year, Disability Awareness Week (see more about Disability Awareness Week here) and other activities.

Who is the audience for SDA?

Students, faculty and staff who can utilize our services, resources, and those of others that they become aware of.
Students, faculty, and staff who want to voice opinions, make complaints, and/or work towards a change.
Students, faculty, and staff without disabilities who want to learn more about disability culture and disability issues.

Why care about disability awareness?

Disability awareness is more than just telling people about events or educating people about disabilities. Through awareness and education of disability culture we work toward a community that is inclusive of people with disabilities. Disabilities are not always foreseeable and so, if we are knowledgeable about ways that can include people with disabilities in our society, we ensure active participation of every individual in their community, regardless of disability.

How many people are involved in SDA?

SDA’s email list serve sends out mass emails to almost 200 students on campus
The disAbility Resources for Students office sends out information to its 400 strong student base
Over 25 campus offices and programs have helped SDA in reaching its goal and continue to provide much appreciated support
The Leadership Team of ten students, four of those who make up the Executive Board coordinate the daily activities and operations of the SDA.

What can we do to help?

There are countless ways in which you can make a difference, both as an individual and working as a part of a larger group:

Sign up for our emailing list on our website to get notifications about upcoming events and activities, www.wwusda.or.
Volunteer your time for events and activities that require helping hands. For example, poster making, setup crews, handing out fliers, or greeting attendees at events. Chances are, if you are looking for something to do, we will have something great for you to do.
Have an idea for a workshop or event? Let us know! We need all the help we can get to figure out what kinds of programs you want us to coordinate.
If you have a question about disabilities or disability culture, please ask via email or phone and we can provide you with resources and answers.
Be aware of your influence on political issues. Take a stance and write a letter to your representative or discuss issues with others and get your opinion heard.