Riesch to speak at UW-W for Disability Awareness Month

With homecoming and Halloween on the minds of most students, some may forget it’s Disability Awareness Month. Bryon Reisch, founder of Bryon Reisch Paralysis Foundation, is coming to campus on Oct.18 to teach students how to comfortably speak with disabled individuals.

Photo by Andrew Smith

Bryon Riesch founded the Bryon Reisch Paralysis Foundation after a slip-n-slide accident on April 25, 1998. He broke his C5 quadriplegic, the fifth vertebrae from the top of the neck, resulting in quadriplegia.

He has no movement below his chest, limited movement in his arms and no movement in his wrists and fingers.

Following his accident, Reisch graduated from Marquette University with degrees in information technology and marketing.  After graduation, he was involved with a program through Goodwill called Ability Connections where he was helped with his resume and eventually got his first job at Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company.

Reisch now works for R&R Insurance Services as the project manager.

“People with disabilities are just like anyone else,” Reisch said.

The Bryon Reisch Paralysis Foundation’s mission is “to help find a cure for paralysis through funding the latest in medical research and to provide assistance to those that suffer from neurological disorders,” Reisch said.

“I am excited to come to Whitewater because Whitewater is noted for their disability programs,” said Reisch.

Last year, 622 UW-Whitewater students chose to self-identify and utilize disability related services on campus. This is approximately six percent of the total student population.  It is estimated 10 to 14 percent of the student population is disabled.

“Accessibility is very necessary because we [people with disabilities] need to be able to get into buildings too,” freshman Jillian Host said.

Disabilities represent diversity, Director of the Center for Students with Disabilities Elizabeth Watson said.

One example is how Executive Director of Residence Life Frank Bartlett is committed to inclusiveness of those with disabilities.  Through the hard work of the university, UW-Whitewater is of the top four campuses in the nation to be accessible to people with disabilities.

“We don’t just talk about it, we publicize it,” Watson said. “Our university hopes to not need a Center for Students with Disabilities, but just to have a universally designed campus and curriculum.”

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