Today, SUNY students with disabilities are provided necessary accommodations that make attending college much more accessible than in the past. As a result of increased accommodations, the student population receiving disability services is also increasing. Although there are now more students with disabilities thriving in higher education, many individuals still fear the stigma of self-identifying in the process of finding support. There are many advocacy groups throughout the SUNY system who have fought this stigma and worked to create an environment of advocacy and support for students with disabilities. Below are four organizations from across the SUNY system that are incredibly dedicated to providing peer support to students with disabilities while facilitating change on their campuses.
Delta Alpha Pi
Delta Alpha Pi is an academic honor society that recognizes high-achieving students at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to academic achievement, this organization also promotes the development of leadership and advocacy skills for students with disabilities. There are chapters of Delta Alpha Pi at Cornell University, Fashion Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY OId Westbury, SUNY Delhi, University at Albany, Buffalo State, and SUNY Cobleskill.
The Student Disability Advocacy Alliance (SDAA)
The Student Disability Advocacy Alliance (SDAA) is a student-founded and focused organization that seeks to address the needs of the disability community at the University of Buffalo. SDAA works to represent students with disabilities while advocating within the larger administrative systems to ensure equity for all students. SDAA also hosts advocacy events and awareness campaigns on their campus and in their local community.
At Fulton Montgomery Community College, the Abilities Beyond Limitation through Education (ABLE) Club works to provide peer support to students with varying disabilities. They focus both on accessibility and the importance of mental health, general wellness, and career counseling for students with disabilities. Their mission is to create an environment where each student is treated as unique, and assured that their individual needs are met to ensure success throughout college.
Not a Bit of Difference Club
The Not A Bit Of Difference Club was established at Hudson Valley Community College by students with disabilities. Any student interested in promoting awareness and advocating for disability-related issues is welcome into this organization. Their club mainly does fundraising, awareness campaigns, participation in campus community activities, and going on group outings. Through these recreational activities, they hope to enhance the college experiences of students with disabilities.
These four organizations are not alone, as many other SUNY schools have clubs and organizations devoted to supporting students with disabilities. The SUNY Student Assembly is dedicated to ensuring equity, peer support, and accessibility for all students, regardless of ability.
If your school has an organization dedicated to disability advocacy, let the Student Assembly know so we can connect with you and learn about your work! Additionally, the SUNY Poly Disability Services Committee is working to create collaboration between disability service departments and student advocacy groups across the 64 SUNY campuses. If you have a student advocacy group, please email Emma Vanderwerken at Emma.Vanderwerken@sunysa.org to stay informed on the SUNY-wide Disability Services advocacy initiatives and other collaborative opportunities. Written by Emma Vanderwerken, SUNY Student Assembly Chair of Disability Services, SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica