CSUSB Hosts 3rd Annual Ability Awareness Day on May 22

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Writers Ona Gritz and Daniel Simpson will be the featured speakers when Cal State San Bernardino hosts the Third Annual Ability Awareness Fair in support of Global Disability Awareness Day on Tuesday, May 22.

This year, the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities, the CSUSB Department of History, the University Diversity Committee and the Student Press Organization are hosting the event, which is free and open to the public; parking is $6 at the university.

“One in five Americans have disabilities,” said Marci Daniels, director of the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities. “Almost all of us, as we grow older, will have some type of functional limitation. Our hope is that students, through their participation in this event, become more aware of stereotypical perceptions and behaviors, and how they negatively influence their interactions with the disabled community and other cultures, ultimately leading to a more inclusive campus environment.”

Gritz and Simpson, who are married, will speak at noon at the Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center followed by a question-and-answer session.

In addition to reading some of their work, the couple will share their experiences and provide a roadmap of how they became professional writers, discussing their disabilities, how their work is impacted and how they overcome the challenges.

Gritz, who has cerebral palsy, is the author of the poetry collection, “Geode,” a finalist for the 2013 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and “On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability,” a memoir that Paige Bennett of Blogher says, “reads like poetry” and “should be required reading for all new moms.”

A Best American Essays notable author, Gritz’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, More, Ploughshares, the anthology “Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability,” and elsewhere. A longtime columnist for Literary Mama, she has also written two children’s books, including “Tangerines and Tea, My Grandparents and Me,” which Nick Jr. Family Magazine named Best Alphabet Book of the year, and Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine named one of six Best Books for 2005.

Simpson, who is blind, has a collection of poems, “School for the Blind,” which was published by Poets Wear Prada in 2014. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, Passager, The Atlanta Review, The Louisville Review and The New York Times, among others. Cinquo Puntos Press published his essay “Line Breaks the Way I See Them” and four of his poems in “Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability.”

The recipient of a Fellowship in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Simpson has been singing with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, a 140-voice choir, for more than 20 years. He works as a technical support specialist for the Library of Congress and maintains a blog, Inside the Invisible: A Blind Writer’s View of Living the Attentive Life.

Gritz and Simpson also collaborated on a book, “Border Songs: A Conversation in Poems.” They have also edited “More Challenges for the Delusional: Peter Murphy’s Prompts and the Writing They Inspired,” and Referential Magazine, an online literary journal, from 2013 to 2016.

After their presentation, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., interactive stations will be available for participants to experience, engage and challenge their perceptions about the capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Stations include assistive communication, mobility impairment, assistive technology, learning disabilities, vision impairment, alternate media, mental health and a blind maze.

For more information, or if you are in need of special accommodations to attend the event, contact the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities at (909) 537-5238 or ssd@csusb.edu.

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