A student athlete using a wheelchair races on a track

Rutgers Disability Awareness Month

A Campus-Wide Celebration

Rutgers University is one of the most diverse institutions in the Big 10 and disabilities play a vital role in making our community vibrant and inclusive. See how Rutgers came together to celebrate and learn during Disability Awareness Month in October, and keep the conversation going with resources and actions throughout the year.

Resources and Action

Disability takes many forms, both visible and invisible. Disability Awareness Month at Rutgers is an opportunity for our community to recognize, bring awareness to, and learn about disabilities and the disability community.

The Disability Studies minor is a new interdisciplinary Rutgers–New Brunswick collaboration designed to support an intrinsically interdisciplinary approach to studying the lived experience of disability and the theoretical frameworks that surround that experience.

As an ally, you can take action and help cultivate an awareness of creating an inclusive environment for all individuals. 

We're proud to be an Aira Access Partner, providing free around-the-clock, person-to-person visual interpreting services to anyone throughout the Rutgers–New Brunswick campuses. Students, staff, faculty, or visitors can use Aira for free on a smartphone simply by downloading the Aira app and connecting with an agent.

Looking Back at Disability Awareness Month

Disability Awareness Month is packed with in-person programs and virtual events. Each year, participants learn how to be allies, meet new furry friends, get active with adaptive sports, and more.

The Seeing Eye of Morristown, NJ, and the Rutgers Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Club presented a program for Disability Awareness Month 2023 aimed at bringing awareness to the visually impaired community.

The Mason Gross Filmmaking Center hosted a screening of Crip Camp (2020), a documentary film narrating the story of the upstate New York summer Camp Jened created exclusively for disabled teen campers, and a virtual panelist discussion with the film's directors James Le Brecht and Nicole Newnham, during Disability Awareness Month 2023.

An attendee pets a service dog after a panel discussion about the profound relationship between military veterans and their four-legged companions, as part of Disability Awareness Month 2023.

Students and community members learned about the invaluable impact of service dogs on the lives of our military veterans during a panel discussion presented by the Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services, Canine Companions, and VA NJ Suicide Peer Support Program.

Canine Companions, the largest provider of service dogs, visited for a panel discussion about the profound relationship between military veterans and their four-legged companions, as part of Disability Awareness Month 2023.

Students kick a soccer ball back and forth while wearing eye covers during Adaptive Sports and Wellness Day 2023. The game, goalball, is an adaptive sport for the blind or visually impaired.

Participants wore eye covers to experience playing goalball, an adaptive sport for the blind or visually impaired, during Adaptive Sports and Wellness Day 2023.

Emotional support animal Jack visited campus for a Disability Awareness Month 2022 event, titled “Who Let the Dogs In?"

Students got to experience a game of wheelchair basketball during Adaptive Sports and Wellness Day 2022.

Students played beep baseball during Adaptive Sports and Wellness Day, part of Disability Awareness Month 2022.

Students played beep baseball during Adaptive Sports and Wellness Day, part of Disability Awareness Month 2022.

Share in the Experience

Rutgers students took to social media to share highlights of some of the Disability Awareness Month 2023 events aimed at amplifying awareness and visibility of disabilities.

2023 Select Events

Disability Awareness Month events represented a broad spectrum of programming that showcased community stories, offered resources, and nurtured conversation about disability-related topics.

SparkNight at Zimmerli Art Museum for Disability Awareness Month

SparkNight is a free monthly art party at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University for everyone to explore art, engage their creativity, and have fun! In October, SparkNight served as the launch event for Disability Awareness Month, featuring curated playlists, an art-making workshop, a tour of exhibitions, light refreshments, and representatives from a range of community and university partners to highlight resources and topics related to disability, access, and inclusion.

Veterans and Service Dogs: The Bonds that Heal

A thought-provoking and inspiring panel discussion on the invaluable impact of service dogs on the lives of our military veterans. This event shed light on the profound relationship between our heroes and their four-legged companions. The event featured Canine Companions, the largest provider of service dogs, including dogs for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

From Possibility to Reality: Person-Centered Approaches to Community Living

Presented by the Community Living Education Project, this film highlights four individuals living lives of choice in their communities: Aaliya, John, Carmelys and Logan. Each person experiences a different approach to community living and shows what is possible with the right supports in place.

Lindy Hop Dance Class for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Lindy Hop is a social partner dance that originated in Harlem, New York in 1928 and was danced throughout the 30's and 40's. This special dance lesson for people who are blind or visually impaired was sponsored by the Rutgers Swing Dance Club and the Dance Department at Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Thank you

A special thank you to our committee, sponsors, partners, and program participants for helping us commemorate the many contributions and experiences of people living with disabilities here at Rutgers.

2023 Active Planning Committee Members

Bryan Adams • Javier Robles • Kate Chao • Jennifer Demby • Annette Freytag • Jeff Friedman • Paul Goobic • Kathy Loder-Murphy • Kevin Orcell • Arielle Smith • Dee Magnoni • Christopher Manente • Bret McCandless • Nychey Michel • Morgan Murray • Lisa Rossman-Murphy • Julia Sass Rubin • Lauren Shallish • Jennifer Senick • Cynthia Simon • Gita Sharma • Natalie Schultz-Kahwaty • Karin Stromswold • Jakora Thomspon • Brandon Truett • Sangya Varma • Nadine Venturin-Trinadade • Sherlock Washington • Madison Whittaker • Sonia Yaco

2023 Sponsors

Association of Blind Athletes of New Jersey  Blind Athletes Inc. • Canine Companions • Center for Disability Sports, Health, and Wellness  Childrens' Lightning Wheels GiGi's Playhouse • Mason Gross School of the Arts • Residence Life  Rutgers Recreation • Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services  The Seeing Eye • Office of Disability Services • Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners  New Jersey Lightning Beep Baseball Team  U.S. Association of Blind Athletes  Wheelchair Federation  Zimmerli Art Museum

2023 Program Partners

Aresty Research Center • Byrne Seminars • Career Exploration and Success • Community Living Education Project • Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services • Dark Room Ballet • Department of Kinesiology and Health • Disability Studies program at Rutgers–Newark in collaboration with the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers–Newark • Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences • Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy • Graduate Student Life • Mason Gross School of the Arts, Dance, Filmmaking • McNair Scholars Program • Office of Disability Services, New Brunswick • New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health • Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services • Office for Violence Prevention Victim Assistance, New Brunswick • Residence Life-Student Support • Rutgers Department of Landscape Architecture and Department of Human Ecology  Rutgers Business School • Rutgers Center for Adult Autism • Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center • Rutgers Program in Cinema Studies/School of Arts and Sciences in conjunction with Middlesex County • Rutgers Learning Centers • Rutgers Psychology Department  Rutgers Recreation • Rutgers School of Graduate Studies  Rutgers University Seeing Eye Puppy Raiser Club • Rutgers Swing Dance Club • Rutgers University Libraries New Brunswick • School of Management and Labor Relations  Student Health  The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities • The Tyler Clementi Center for Diversity Education and Bias Prevention • Thrive Student Support Services  VA NJ Suicide Peer Support Program  W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience • Zimmerli Art Museum