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CapABLE Voices: The Photovoice of Students with Disabilities

Supporting the Profession Disability Knowledge Community
November 13, 2018 Neelam Agarwal University of Texas-El Paso, NASPA Foundation Innovation Grant awardee

Being selected to receive the NASPA Innovation Grant to fund our project titled CapABLE Voices: The Photovoice of Students with Disabilities made a tremendous difference on our campus. This Photovoice project gave voices to students with disabilities and helped in generating understanding the unique life experiences of students with disabilities who are considered marginalized population. This project has helped tell the story of students with “invisible” or less than apparent disabilities, and especially the experiences of those with chronic illness. 

Students with disabilities are often a forgotten minority in higher education. Researchers have written about students with a disability, but few have engaged with this student population. The way in which they have been studied and represented historically and academically do not consider their voices, subjective experiences, and participation in the process. Thus, their needs are consistently defined and represented by others. 

The study findings provide valuable insight and dialogue about student issues, concerns, and successes from their own point of view. This provides the opportunity for collaborative knowledge creation of important issues to enhance service delivery and advocacy for social change. We had multiple art exhibits from this project that allowed for the participant’s images and voices to travel to a broad audience beyond campus stakeholders, reach the community at large, and challenge stigma and stereotypes associated with disability.

Receiving this funding, allowed us to meet the following objectives:
  • Promotion of a helpful environment that guarantees students with disabilities full access to educational programs, activities, and university facilities
  • Remove stigma and social isolation surrounding the ‘disability’ label
  • Increase the capacity of student affairs professionals to generate knowledge regarding equity, access, and inclusion of these students
  • Empowerment of students with disabilities
  • Creating awareness about disabilities especially about invisible chronic conditions to on and off-campus community

Beyond that as a Principal Investigator, I was also specially invited by AHEAD - Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) to display an exhibit of this photovoice project at their National conference in Albuquerque in July 2018.​ This experience and generation of new knowledge was made possible by receiving the Innovation Grant, funded by NASPA donors. If you ever wonder if your donations make an impact, they do and truly have on our college campus. 

Help support the work of the NASPA Foundation this #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. This year’s #GivingTuesday falls on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

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