Happy New Year. As we look forward to the spring semester, allow me the privilege of recapping this fall’s HSC 498/598, a unique class in the College of Health at Ball State University. In conjunction with my duties as a Distinguished Fellow in the Office of Institutional Diversity, I teach “Public Policy, Healthcare, and Disability” in the fall semester. The class studies the impact of the typical healthcare model for people with disabilities, discusses potential changes to policies that would help people with disabilities, and examines the growth of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the disability rights movement.
The class was discussion-based. One student said the discussions enhanced their learning style, and they gained insight learning how disabilities relate to other civil rights challenges in today’s society. One of our learners articulated that we have all faced situations where minority populations are not taken into consideration and we can change that. The discussions ranged from healthcare to equal employment and the continual fight for economic equality for people with disabilities.
A class module focused on the Eskenazi Health Initiative for Empowerment and Economic Independence (IEEI). Larry Markle, former Director of Disability Services at BSU and current Program Director of IEEI, introduced the growth and development of IEEI through the partnership between Eskenazi Health and Ball State University. Larry sums up:
“It is a thrill for me to see how the partnership between Eskenazi Health and Ball State has grown and is changing livesfor Indiana college students with physical disabilities. The mission behind the work is simple: help college students with physical disabilities get the experiences they need to become equitably employed after graduation. Ball State’s leadership in this project has served as a model for other universities. Starting with one Ball State student in 2013 interning at Eskenazi Health, we’ve now seen 44 students intern through the program, with a goal of having at least one student from every college or university in the state.”
In November, Larry organized a class tour of Eskenazi Health and presentations from former interns on the skills and experiences they gained through IEEI. The students asked engaging, thoughtful questions of the former interns, expressing a sincere interest in learning from their experiences. The presentation from the interns evolved into a question and answer and discussion space, wherein the students gained insight into the steps the interns with disabilities take to participate in the program.
Teaching these students this semester was simulating and rewarding. Their contributions to class discussions and their efforts to engage in the material demonstrated a desire to be a part of the solution to healthcare issues for people with disabilities. One student stated “This class is perfectly set up to change perceptions, think outside the box, and make actual world change.” Knowing that the students feel better prepared to face problems with an open mind is gratifying and encouraging. I am excited for the continued inclusion of disabilities in the diversity conversation.