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Activism, Advocacy and Social Stigma: Empowering Students with Disabilities

Kimbo YorkKimBoo York holds a masters in information studies and has a background in technology services, skillsets that she uses in her current position to assist college students in matters such as information literacy, information access, and technological solutions for academic learning and communication




Josh GuffeyJoshua Guffey is a Florida Transplant coming from North Carolina. Guffey previously attended University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he majored in Human Development and Family Studies. He is currently a first year master’s student at Florida State in their Higher Education program. He is currently a graduate assistant for the Student Disability Resource Center where he focuses on academic coaching. He has interests in LGBTQ+ studies, men and masculinity, social justice, advising and student development, college access, and first generation students.



Jenn MitchellJennifer has a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling. Her previous experience includes working as an academic advisor for Division I Athletics. Additionally, she has experience providing psychosocial rehabilitation therapy and activity therapy for adults diagnosed with mental health disorders. In addition, as a Behavior Specialist she consulted with an institution to provide recovery-based services, including Positive Behavior Support, to individuals with psychiatric/forensic needs and/or developmental and intellectual disabilities. Her interests include learning disabilities, student-athletes and providing holistic services that promotes support and empowers individuals to realize their full potential.


When people think of the term disability, they frequently judge the person on what they can or cannot do by the way they look. However, “invisible disabilities” are not obvious. How can students advocate for their rights when their disability is stigmatized because it cannot be seen? How can we end the stigma around mental disabilities? How can students advocate so they are seen as more than their diagnosis? It can become a constant struggle for students to cope and self-advocate while working on navigating college successfully. This presentation by the Student Disability Resource Center at FSU shows how they both assist students with disabilities and teach them how to advocate for themselves. The “Disable the Label” initiative is a call to shut off the power of a label and power up access and inclusion.

Extension of session experience: Participants will gain a better understanding of how to encourage activism and leadership in people who struggle not just with disabilities, but the social stigma and prejudice that accompanies their diagnosis. How issues such as legal mandates and the requirement for privacy impacts activism will be discussed as well.

Important question explored: How can Higher Education professionals assist with removing barriers for students with disabilities?