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Student champions disability awareness

Alan Flurry

Alongside her double-major coursework, Tyler Burrell raises awareness about “invisible illness”—that not all people who look normal are able-bodied and healthy.

“That person needing the elevator for one floor, the person with a handicap pass who looks totally healthy, might not be,” she said. “You never know someone’s whole story.”

Burrell, a University of Georgia senior international affairs and communication studies major, is part of the Disability Resource Center’s Speaker’s Bureau. She has talked to a First-Year Odyssey class and new graduate teaching assistants about how to help students with accommodations for disabilities. There, people are able ask questions in an open, comfortable environment and have a discussion about disabilities. “The goal is people gaining knowledge and increasing awareness, especially for invisible illness in general,” she said.

“We have people with so many disabilities, a huge variety: deaf, learning disabilities. I would encourage people to ask questions, to learn. This makes for a community that is more understanding and compassionate,” she said.

Burrell, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, is very open about her disability. “A lot of people have so many questions and think it would be rude to ask,” she said. “I would rather you come up and ask a question than stare and wonder what’s wrong. I have no problem answering questions.”

Great story about a terrific student, and her service dog, Scorpio. A companion article on Scorpio and his role in Burrell's successful navigation of classes and campus completes a wonderful picture of university life.

Image: Tyler Burrell with her service dog, Scorpio.

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