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Festival promotes disability awareness

By Menaka Fernando

Oct. 20, 2003 9:00 p.m.

In celebration of Disabilities Awareness Month, UCLA students
will hold a festival today in Bruin Plaza to promote awareness of
issues affecting people with disabilities.

The event will feature the local performance group Changing
Perceptions: Theater by the Blind and Physically Disabled. The
group is based in Studio City and provides free dramatic art
education and performance opportunities for disabled performers
from age 25 to 85.

The festival ““ termed the “DAM Fest” ““
will be the last event coordinated by the Disabled Student Union at
UCLA this month to promote awareness on campus. Other events
included a Disability Walk and a speaker from the University of
California, Berkeley earlier this month.

In an effort to make the workforce more inclusive of people with
disabilities, the U.S. Department of Labor declared the theme of
this year’s awareness month as “America Works Best When
all of America Works.”

While nationally this year’s Disabilities Awareness Month
has focused on regulations that would make people with disabilities
more employable, DSU is focusing on bringing the awareness of
disability issues and the disability rights movement to all of
campus, said DSU President Dria Fearn.

The disenfranchisement that disabled students face is a
“serious problem” said Fearn, who also sits on the
Associated Students of UCLA’s board of directors.

Fearn said like with all civil rights movements, she hopes
people will not focus on the differences of people with
disabilities.

Fearn added that one of DSU’s main goals of the month was
to make the campus aware that it was Disabilities Awareness
Month.

“That’s a big thing,” Fearn said.

The festival will take place in Bruin Plaza today from 1 – 2
p.m.

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