Student Madison Ling graciously shares her perspective
The month of July is Disability Pride Month, and 2022 marks 32 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed into law, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
The first Disability Pride Day event, after the Act was passed, was held in Boston, Massachusetts, later turning into a month-long celebration. The month-long events include making the statement that disabilities are an identity and culture that should be celebrated and that societies structures have to be changed to allow for whole and meaningful participation however someone shows up.
The Social Model of Disability “looks for ways that society can be planned and organized in order to provide accessibility, independence and opportunity in a way that enables people rather than ‘disables’ them.”
This is a key point for TaQuilla Kusero, Schoolcraft College’s Director of Equity and Engagement.
“While the ADA creates a base for ensuring that organizations make legal accommodations, how do we go above and beyond that to create a campus that removes barriers and fully empowers people with disabilities to reach their full potential on campus?” she asked.
These questions are all tied to the College’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) pillar built into the Strategic Plan. In brief, through meaningful actions, the College will ensure that IDEA is woven into the fabric of everything done for students, faculty and staff.
Madison Ling, a current Schoolcraft College student who has served the campus in a variety of leadership roles, graciously offered the following perspective:
Schoolcraft resembles a home, community, and all-encompassing experience that I didn’t know was missing from my life until it was there. Living a life with a disability, or as any minority, is not inspirational, nor is it for the faint of heart – it’s reality. There are inconceivable challenges and complications that come attached to any given condition and that give way to frustration, pain, and heartache – feelings and thoughts that are more crippling than any physiologically induced condition by far.
There was a time when I viewed myself as limitless without the slightest uncertainty. Over time, life’s trials and tribulations truly made me begin to question the validity of this inherent belief. Health complications, societally inflicted ableism (whether intentional or not), and ensuing self-doubt were the true source of paralysis in my teen years, not my disability. My mind, once an impenetrable fortress, was crumbling for the first time. My philosophy “I can’t is not an option, but I can try is” and the unshakable confidence I once had in my adaptability were waning. Just when I thought I was down for the count, I came to Schoolcraft College and everything changed.
While I would like to think I took the College by storm, the truth is that this campus and our treasured community took me by the hand, reminded me who I’ve always been, and what life can be with the right support behind you. I went from taking community transit to becoming an independent driver, a young adult unsure of her place in the workforce to a proud student employee, and a socially timid recluse to a decorated student leader that leads with gratitude for where I’ve been and where I’m going. My mindset with regard to the future and my goals have transitioned from “That’s impossible” to “Maybe, I can try” to “Of course I can do that. I am Madison Ling and I’m an unstoppable Ocelot.”
All of this is because I made the #CCSmart decision to come here. I’m unbelievably grateful to have a community composed of friends, faculty/staff, police officers, and an incredible College President that have a healthy balance of being my greatest supporters and being a safety net should I ever fall. Most of all, I’m Ocelot Proud to see the changes developing on our campus and to be a part of making Schoolcraft College a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable place for all.”
Below are some additional resources:
What is the Social Model of Disability and what do the Disability Pride Flag colors mean?
Schoolcraft College Disability Support Services
Interview with Edythe (Edee) Copeland of the Michigan Works! Association