Penn State Intercom......April 18, 2002

Altoona's interactive Web,
theatre program enlightens
about disabilities

Have you ever wondered what it's truly like to live with a disability, or how to effectively work and communicate with someone who has a disability?

Faculty and staff throughout the Penn State system now will have the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone who's disabled, thanks to a new interactive Web-based training and awareness program.

Titled "In Their Shoes," the interactive format uses graphics, sound and Web technology that provides a glimpse of what it's really like to have functional limitations that substantially alter a major life activity, such as learning, seeing, hearing or functioning socially. The Web-based program is 15 to 20 minutes in length with a pre- and post-test and a built-in evaluation component.

The proposal to develop the project was initially submitted to fulfill a need for a convenient and dynamic medium in which to provide faculty and staff with a combination of accurate information, increased awareness and heightened sensitivity regarding working with individuals with disabilities.

Funding for the "In Their Shoes" project has come from the Penn State Altoona Division of Student Affairs and the Penn State Equal Opportunity Planning Committee. An initial proposal for $14,050 was submitted in fall 2000 for implementation during the academic year 2001-2002.

The "In Their Shoes" project is being marketed and implemented through disability counselors at all Penn State locations. The project will be introduced through a CD-ROM and brochure which will provide information about the project and will enable participants to easily access the Web site.

A 20-minute theatre presentation also is being used to market the Web site. Written by playwright Scott W. Kirk of the Pittsburgh-based Saltworks Theatre Company, the play was developed following meetings with students with disabilities on campus, interviewing and working with project staff and researching issues related to disabilities.

The play focuses on the issue of attitudes and myths related to working with students with disabilities. The audience will have the opportunity to literally see things through the eyes of those with disabilities and get a glimpse of what it might be like to walk in the shoes of the disabled.