Diversity comes in many forms, and UT is working to raise corresponding awareness.
Campus Disability Advocates, will hold its second annual Disability Week beginning on Oct. 21-25.
President of Campus Disability Advocates Lindsay Lee said the goal of Disability Week is to educate students about the social and economic issues surrounding disability, local advocacy work for equality and the value of diverse life experiences.
"We want people to come away from our events viewing disability as a valuable difference and not a death sentence," said Lee, a senior in mathematics and Spanish.
Lee said through the first Disability Week, the group was able to reach out to many students, faculty, staff and community members while forging new relationships with local advocacy organizations.
"But most importantly, many people came up to me and said that they learned something totally new," Lee said. "That's what we were really hoping for."
The showcase of Knoxville Disability Organizations will take place Monday, where four regional organizations will be represented. Tuesday will see three more organizations represented at the Forum on Employment and Disability. Other events, such as trivia, a deaf performing artist and a screening of the movie "The Intouchables" will also be available throughout the week.
The events, starting at 7 p.m. each night in the International House Great Room, are organized primarily for an audience unfamiliar with disability.
"First and foremost we are hoping to inspire members of the general public to advocate on behalf of the disabled in their everyday lives," Lee said.
Disability Week is also marketed to prospective employers.
"The Knoxville Area Employment Consortium, which encourages the employment of people with disabilities by connecting people with disabilities to employers and providing support after hire, will also be participating in the forum," Alison Gose, vice president of Campus Disability Advocates and a senior in history, said.
In addition, Disability Week is aimed at raising awareness of those in the campus community with disabilities. In Lee's opinion, although the university does not do a perfect job accommodating its students with disabilities, it is improving all the time.
"For instance, many sidewalks are not evenly paved, and it is often difficult for wheelchair users to maneuver them," she said. "But Facilities Services has been really cooperative about fixing those sorts of problems."
Campus Disability Advocates is a small but growing group with about eight active members.
"It is particularly hard to get a large group together because there is still so much stigma surrounding disability," Lee said. "But it is exactly the stigma we are trying to fight by hosting events like Disability Week."
For more information on Disability Week, clcik here.