Anti-ableism discussion held as part of Equity 2030

An anti-ableism discussion was held this week to draw attention to the issue of ableism and the impact of barriers to accommodation on disabled individuals on campus. .

The discussion, held over Zoom and led by Jess Schomberg, asked participants a series of questions about disability and ableism.

“How does the concept of intersectionality play a role in understanding the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, especially considering factors like race, socioeconomic status, and gender?” was one question that was asked of participants.

Another question was “Why do students with the same disabilities sometimes need different accommodations?”

The event was part of Equity 2030. According to MSU Mankato’s website, “Equity 2030 is the strategic agenda for the system centered around closing the educational attainment gaps for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), low-income students, and first-generation students by the year 2030.”

During the event participants shared examples of ableism they had experienced as well as strategies for combating barriers to accommodation for disabled people. Overall the tone was casual with many participants and attendees eating lunch during the event.

“I try to use language that indicates an accommodation is targeting the barrier [for disabled individuals] not the disability,” said Alex J. Lucier.

William Strong, a professor in the speech, hearing, and rehabilitation department, shared his experiences with ableism at MSU Mankato.

“Trying to get accommodations was a several year process,” said Strong. “I called it my three cup wine conversation. By the third cup they should have gotten it.”

Strong also described being the target of ableism from students.

“I have had students laugh at me, I’ve had students give me bad reviews,” Strong said.

Strong also described his experiences working with students with  disabilities.

“For the students who don’t want to admit they have a disability, who can see struggling on tests or in class, I create a third space, where I talk about my disabilities and how they impact me,” Strong said.

Strong also elaborated on what he meant by a third space.

“I’m inviting them into a conversation as someone with a disability. I have a stutter and the pauses and breaks are accommodations for my own body,” said Strong, who frequently paused while speaking during the event.

One plan under discussion was adding a button to the school website that would ease the reporting of ableism and help ensure that ableist incidents or barriers were properly addressed. This plan was brought up and discussed by Lucier.

The overall importance of eliminating barriers, improving access to education materials and eradicating ableism was frequently brought up. At least one person made the point that making course materials more accessible could help everyone, whether or not they were disabled.

“People aren’t disabled or not disabled. Anyone could become disabled at any time,” said Sara Hausladen.

Write to Jeremy Redlien at

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