De Anza activists pushing for disability justice course2 min read
March 12, 2016
Imagine a world where you cannot see, hear or walk. Imagine not being able to easily open a door, get around or even be understood.
Many disabled students at De Anza College don’t have to imagine this world; they live in it. The members of the Inclusability club on campus are pushing to have an introductory class to disability where everyone will be able to learn about disability justice.
The club wants the disability justice class to help create a society that is more inclusive of people with disabilities, said Inclusability club co-chair, Marquis Johnson.
Brenda Mendoza, business programming major, who has a brain injury, said she is advocating for a disability justice course to bring awareness to issues on campus that affect her and other disabled students.
Mendoza said that she is concerned about not having safe space for disabled students to wait for their Outreach vehicles after they are no longer allowed to wait in the Disability Student Services office.
“De Anza has a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all its students including those of us with disabilities, who in some ways are the most vulnerable,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said that disabled students need a bathroom that is open on Fridays, more tables for disabled people in the cafeteria and at the patio, as well as a working emergency phone that everyone can use.
Director of Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action, Cynthia Kaufman, said that the needs of disabled people are often not taken into consideration when people design and plan things.
“Disability justice says that disabled people count just as much as the rest of us and that we need to make everything work for everybody,” Kaufman said.
The DASB Senate is working with the Inclusability club to help achieve their goal of starting a class that brings awareness to issues that affect students like Mendoza.
“Policies that affect disabled students on campus also affect students from various other disenfranchised communities,” said DASB Senate vice chair of finance Edgar Godinez. “ If we advocate for one, we advocate for all.”
“Some people think of disability just as physical and mental limitations,” Kaufman said. “The disability justice perspective says that disability is a social justice issue.”
The Inclusability club, along with the DASB Senate and VIDA, are hoping to make the disability studies class a four unit ICS class that would be a general education course.
“I want to invite all students to join the class,” Godinez said. “If we are able to create a section of it, it will be fun, inclusive and will teach a side of advocacy that is not generally noticed.”