Dr. Bree Jimenez inspires her students to be advocates for those with a disability
Article by By Rachel Williams
Students filed into class on a rainy November morning, trying their best to keep their posters dry from the downpours outside. It was the end of the semester, and for students taking ‘SES 200: People with Disabilities in American Society’, it was final project presentation day.
Taught by assistant professor Dr. Bree Jimenez and PhD student Tammy Barron, both from the Specialized Education Services department of the UNCG School of Education, SES 200 is a general education class offered each semester to students of all majors with the goals of providing a background on how people with disabilities have been treated throughout American history, as well as an understanding of current laws, regulations and services offered to individuals with disabilities and the environmental and social challenges they face every day.
But Jimenez wanted to do more than just educate her students – she wanted to inspire her students to become advocates for individuals with a disability, to their friends, their families, and to their community. “I wanted this course to create awareness, to get students to look at different perspectives and educate them on the history and background of disabilities in order to encourage the idea of being a part of social change.”
Every class day in SES 200 was different – in addition to studying Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and articles identifying various disabilities, Jimenez wanted students to have an opportunity to hear from those in the community who have a disability, as well as from family members and professionals who provide critical services to disabled individuals in Greensboro. Students had the opportunity to connect with local advocates and agencies, including the Executive Director of Disability Rights NC, Parent advocate for transition services for people with Autism, and even a tour of the Industries of the Blind, Inc. facility. “Students have even been able to use their personal experiences with disability to support their coursework and share perspectives with their class colleagues,” said Jimenez.
The final project for students was to research, develop and present on a topic in disability, whether it was a service organization, community accessibility or a specific disability.