Bellevue College to hold Disability Pride Fair Oct. 30

Date posted: October 25, 2012

To celebrate Disability Employment Awareness Month this October, Bellevue College’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) will host a Disability Pride Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Accessibility through technology will be the theme, with hands-on exhibits demonstrating adaptive technology employed by the DRC and other organizations to help disabled students here and elsewhere succeed in the classroom. The event is free and open to the public.

BC has invested in a variety of technologies, including voice recognition and text-to-speech software, to help students with disabilities succeed in their classes.  And technology is also making BC’s campus much more accessible. The college just recently installed “hearing loop” technology in the Carlson Theater. This innovative system, profiled by The New York Times and used in venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., enables users of hearing aids and cochlear implants to use elements in their hearing devices as wireless receivers, amplifying the sounds that are important, such as speech or music, and minimizing distracting background noise. This will make a dramatic difference in the ability of students and campus visitors to understand what they hear in the theater, such as performances, lectures and classroom activities. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent medical condition in the United States.

Currently, the system is used in a handful of churches, hospitals and retirement communities throughout Washington, and Bellevue College is only the second higher education institution in the state to install the technology.

“Technology plays such an important role in our lives these days, and has done a lot to help people with disabilities, but it can also create barriers,” said DRC Director Susan Gjolmesli. “This event is a way for us to educate people about assistive technology and recognize that when everyone works together, these barriers need not exist. It’s also a way to celebrate our differences and promote the importance of inclusion and the value that disabled persons bring to our communities.”

Each year, Bellevue College’s DRC provides accommodation services to approximately 900 students with a variety of visible and non-apparent disabilities to help them meet their academic and professional goals. Gjolmesli says as many as one in five BC students may have a disability, mirroring the national rate.

WHAT: Disability Pride Fair, sponsored by BC’s Disability Resource Center.

WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 12 to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Building D, room 106 on the campus of Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE

WHO: The event is free and open to the public

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Susan Gjolmesli at (425) 564-2498 or susan.gjolmesli@bellevuecollege.edu.