Who We Are and What We Do
This caucus seeks to elevate the “disability” lens in the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) discussions within our college community. Recently, national, state and local conversations have turned their attention to how businesses and cultural organizations, especially institutions of higher education, can create environments that optimize inclusion and opportunities for those with disabilities. Unfortunately, individuals with (in)visible disabilities—26% of the US population—are often omitted from DEI conversations, and this omission precludes important conversations about supporting them, not only by responding to their needs and creating accessible solutions, but also empowering them to accomplish the success they design for themselves. The In/Visible Dis/Abilities Caucus is committed to advocate for and celebrate the strength of those who live with disabilities, as well as their allies.
We are a diverse group which celebrates the range of disability experiences, both seen and unseen. We welcome those living with mental health challenges, neurodivergence (including learning and intellectual disabilities), chronic health challenges, physical disabilities, other disabilities, and their allies. We understand that self-disclosure is a personal decision and everyone's preferences will be respected.
Below is a list of current members:
- Chris Armstrong
- Belinda Bartholomew
- Jen Bradley
- Leann Cocca
- Robin Cunconan-Lahr
- Jennifer Fleetwood
- Karen Glose
- Deb Gschrey
- Becca Martin
- Sonia Massie
- Marshal Miller
- Jacey Mitchell
- Jennifer Napierkowski
- Lori Perez-Ruffo
- Erin Reilly
- Beth Ritter-Guth
Why Do We Need To Heighten Disability Awareness?
Twenty-six percent of adults in the US have a disability- that’s 1 in every 4 adults (CDC). In college students, disability exists in 19% of the population, as disability can emerge as we age (NCCSD). But we may not see that many people with disabilities in our day-to-day life…but we do. That’s because roughly 10% of US Americans have a disability which is invisible. They have great impacts on the lives they affect but may not even be known to those around them. Invisible disabilities can be physical, mental, or neurological conditions that can limit or challenge a person’s movement’s senses or activities (Invisible Disabilities Association). In fact, people with disabilities constitute the largest minority group that you can become a member of at any moment. The In/Visible Dis/Ability Caucus at Northampton Community College exists to ensure faculty, staff and students at the college can fully engage in all aspects of NCC regardless of their disability status. We aim to promote awareness, provide support, and act as advocates.
The Importance of People-First Language
Individuals with disabilities are people first. Their disability is part of their experience; it does not define who they are. People first language is used to convey awareness of the person. Here is some more information to support the use of people first language:
Deciding whether or not to self-disclose an invisible disability at school or in the workplace involves careful consideration of that particular environment, including potential risks and benefits to the individual. Disclosure is a personal choice, and a person's concerns about the impact of disclosure are valid. Here are some resources to help with the decision-making process.
- 5 Steps to Disclosing an Invisible Disability at Work
- Youth Disclosure and the Workplace: Why, When, What, and How
- Disclosing an Invisible Disability During the Interview Process: A Qualitative Study
Resources for More Information
Below are some recommended resources that provide information about invisible disabilities and support for those living with an (in)visible disability.
- Invisible Disabilities Association
- Invisible Disability Project
- Empowering Disabilities Podcast
- The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities (OCR)
- National Disability Institute
- Services for Persons with Disabilities (DHS)
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVR)
- Autism Connection of Pennsylvania
- National Alliance of Mental Illness
- National Organization for Rare Diseases
How to Obtain Accommodations at NCC
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures accommodation rights for those with documented disabilities in higher education. NCC’s Disability Services office coordinates accommodations for students who need them, in a confidential manner.
If you believe will need classroom accommodations, please contact our Coordinator of Disability Services at 610-861-5342 or TDD (610) 861-5351. You can find more information on NCC’s Disability Services page.
If you are at the Monroe Campus, visit the Student Services Office in Keystone Hall.