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USU Hosts First Disability Rights Week

Utah State University is honoring the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act this week by celebrating Disability Rights Week.

“The actual anniversary was in July, but we wanted to do something that impacted the student body,” said Shane Johnson, the development officer at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at USU.

The ADA was signed in 1990 as a way to establish guidelines for public access to buildings, sidewalks, and public transportation for people with disabilities. One program called Aggies Elevated was also inspired by the ADA.

Troy Shumway is an Aggies Elevated student from San Diego who has autism. He is in his second year of the two year program and said he wants to serve an LDS mission and become a writer after he graduates from the program. But attending college was not necessarily his plan right after high school.   

EditedTroy.mp3
Click to hear the full interview with Troy Shumway

Johnson said Aggies Elevated is a college opportunity for students with developmental disabilities who wouldn’t otherwise have that opportunity. It is 1 of more than 200 programs across the nation that provides inclusive on-campus experiences for young adults with intellectual disabilities.

 

“When I graduated I was wondering, ‘What am I going to do?’ I had nothing to do after high school,” he said.

Shumway said he and his parents discovered Aggies Elevated and thought it sounded like an excellent opportunity for him to learn how to be independent, which is one of the things he has learned from the program along with some academic studies.

 
“The second thing [Aggies Elevated] is all about is showing the world that anyone at any age with a disability deserves respect,” he said.

To him, the 25th anniversary of the passing of the ADA is a celebration of how people with disabilities can learn and become self-reliant, said Shumway.

“Without my disability, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” he said.

Disability Rights Week host several activities including a comedy show from America’s Got Talent’s Drew Lynch and Sam Conroe, an information fair and birthday cake for the ADA.