President Alger’s Keynote Address on Disability

Disability Awareness Week at JMU has come to a close, but I wanted to write about President Jonathon Alger’s Keynote Address and how it not only applies to disability but feminism as well. The Keynote Address began with student peer advisors from the Office of Disabilities (ODS) giving a brief introduction on Disability Awareness Week and how the ODS is celebrating a world of difference. The peer advisors would then pass the speech over to Dr. Randy Mitchell, Associate Vice President, of Student Success who welcomed President Alger stating how James Madison’s current president, is an advocate for diversity and equality. President Alger would then speak and would be followed by Valerie Schoolcraft the Director of the ODS, who concluded the event and thanked President Alger for all of his help. President Alger brought up a variety of issues in his keynote address.disabilityawarnesweek                                                                                                                

President Alger addressed his personal experience with disability and talked about his grandfather who had depression, along with a hereditary disease that is passed down from generation to generation in his family. He also focused on how JMU embraces diversity and how the whole community is interconnected. JMU has also made all of its web pages accessible to people with visual or hearing disabilities and now there is an accessibility header on every JMU page. I think this is a great start as people who are students at JMU with visual or hearing impairments can easily access the website. Not only did President Alger focus on JMU but also he focused on the community that extends outside of JMU. He talked about a boy named Ricky from the Bridgewater area who has cerebral palsy. The Bridgewater community got together and made Ricky a bike that allows him to have very easy mobility and now he can do daily tasks without any difficulty. Aside from these points President Alger brought up there was one that really caught my attention.


One element of President Alger’s speech that I really want to highlight is that he brought up the metaphor of how people at JMU always open doors for one another. But now JMU needs to do more to open doors figuratively with their hearts and minds in order to accept people with not just disabilities but everyone. I think that President Alger made a great metaphor and that JMU’s campus is bringing up disability awareness, which in turn will bring up other minorities and groups of people at JMU. I think Disability Awareness Week ties into feminism in the fact that feminism promotes equality for all in regards to race, ethnicity, gender, and disability. I feel that if JMU continues to promote understanding about disability then they can promote awareness for women and other groups. Regardless I really hope that JMU students can open their hearts in ensuring that people with disabilities are to be treated as equals and that everyone should be treated just the same.

Do you think that President Alger’s Keynote address was a success in promoting disability awareness and equality for other groups or not? Do you think there are similarities in the disability rights movement and the feminist movement? Why or why not? I would love to hear! I for one think President Alger’s speech was positive and brought to light a lot of issues about how people are unfamiliar with disabilities and do not see them as equals sometimes and that he is trying to make JMU’s campus to the best of his ability accessible for not just people with disabilities but for everyone to be treated as equals. I also think feminism and disability activism share many similarities, as the two movements are always advocating and want equality for all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or disability. Let me know what you have to say!

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