When finding a good story to write about, a reporter who chooses to have a voice for those who need to be heard has the ability to make people think about what they’ve read. In order to ignite some kind of change, whether through action or just by making the reader think about the issue at hand, good reporting and representation across different journalistic platforms can only enhance the story and truly engage the audience.
How the Project Started
As print team member Olivia Doty sat in class with her colleagues, she mentioned an idea that everyone thought was worth investigating.
The idea had been mentioned to her editor over at Mustang News and they thought it was a good one: this project had the potential to be published in the campus newspaper about a pressing issue that is affecting a group of people everyday. Olivia set up interviews with students and the DRC, and began piecing together a piece of work that would hopefully inspire the campus to be more inclusive of different students.
In her experience reporting, Olivia says:
“Disabilities are just different abilities. No dis. We all have different experiences and perspectives and they all matter. Interviewing a deaf student who was such a driven and happy-go-lucky person really highlighted that for me and I hope to spread that ideal everywhere I go.”
How did the issue come about? The need to investigate and report on this story primarily encompassed the fact that little to no information is really known about what it’s like to be a student with a disability. In 2011, it was reported that 11.1 percent of college students have a disability . The majority of the student body is not aware of the additional hardships disabled students must endure when pursuing a higher education.
Multimedia team member Julia Morris worked on a visual representation of just how many campuses actually taught ASL, or American Sign Language Classes. Cal Poly is not one of them.
“After talking to Arielle and doing research on the CSU system, I found that Cal Poly is one of the few CSU campuses that doesn’t offer ASL classes and I think we should. ASL is a real language and if more people were familiar with it, I think we could be more inclusive to the deaf community”, said Julia.
The difficulty with writing stories about people who are a minority, a reason why they need to be written about the most, is finding the sources who are willing to speak up and be personal about the issue at hand.
Along with students not being aware or understanding how to be supportive, students with disabilities, and often hidden disabilities like dyslexia or deafness – choose not to disclose their disability.
When interviewing Arielle Dubowe, a senior studying agricultural communications, her kindness and positive attitude offered insight into how being hard of hearing has not brought her down but has made her a stronger individual.
“I was pleasantly surprised that Arielle was so open about her experience and didn’t view her deafness as hindering her from doing anything hearing people can do.”
ASL is a real language a real culture
What Can We Do?
In an article titled ““Taking Nothing for Granted” , 3 students with physical disabilities are chronicled and give insight into their experience in college – especially with their campuses and ways they can improve to make it a more accommodating and inclusive place.
Interviewing Arielle helped us understand that it is not a disability – it is part of her and makes her who she is.
“There’s nothing different about us. We’re just like you.”
Volunteer services and support are offered at Cal Poly’s Students Supporting People with Disabilities Program. This is just one of the efforts we can put forth on our campus to make it a more inclusive community.
“Disabilities are just different abilities. No dis. We all have different experiences and perspectives and they all matter. Interviewing a deaf student who was such a driven and happy-go-lucky person really highlighted that for me and I hope to spread that ideal everywhere I go”, Olivia said.