Episode 71 – Unstoppable Academic and Disability Counselor with Lisa Yates

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Lisa Yates, who currently works at Mt. San Jacinto College, enhances the lives of all persons she encounters through her work as a disability counselor/disability specialist. Listen to this episode so Lisa can tell you more about her job and how she is helping to educate everyone about improving perspectives concerning what the concept of “disability” is all about.
Lisa went back to school after more than 25 years of being a mom and starting a family. She is currently working on her Ph.D. dissertation through the Notre Dame of Maryland University.
As you will hear, Lisa and I had a lively and relevant discussion about persons with disabilities. Discussions like ours in this episode are, I think, one of the best ways that we all can grow to understand that persons with disabilities are far from being “disabled”.
I look forward to receiving your comments and thoughts about my conversation with Lisa. Also, as always, should you know of anyone who you feel would be a good guest on Unstoppable Mindset, please reach out. Of course, that includes you as a possible guest.
About the Guest:
Lisa M. Yates
Mt. San Jacinto College: Disability Support Counselor/Learning Specialist
Notre Dame of Maryland University: Doctoral Candidate
2021 Nancy Kreiter Student Research Day Award recipient (Notre Dame of Maryland University)
Lisa currently serves students with dis/abilities as an academic and dis/ability counselor at Mt. San Jacinto College in Southern California. Lisa has previously worked in 5 community colleges, as a Learning Disabilities Specialist, Student Success Counselor, Veterans Counselor, Job Development Counselor, and Autism Specialist. In each position, Lisa has been committed to treating dis/ability as a diversity and equity issue. Lisa earned her Masters Degree in Special Education from California State University, Fullerton, and her Learning Disabilities Specialist certification from Sacramento State University. Lisa is currently in the dissertation phase of Notre Dame of Maryland University’s Ph.D. program in Higher Educational Leadership for Changing Populations. Her dissertation research focuses on utilizing experiential learning to explore dis/ability perceptions in non-dis/abled college stakeholders.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is an Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
accessiBe Links
https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/
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Transcription Notes

Michael Hingson  00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i  capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson  01:20
Welcome to unstoppable mindset where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet unexpected as always fun. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, your host welcome from wherever you may happen to be. We’re glad you’re with us and really appreciate you joining us. Lisa Yates is our guest today. And she I could say a lot about you Lisa Yates. Lisa loves the Academy Awards. In fact, we were just listening to a little segment from the 1943 Academy Awards presented in 1944 were Casablanca one for Best Picture that year, one of my favorite movies. But anyway, Lisa has worked at a number of colleges has been very much involved in diversity, inclusion and disabilities and a variety of things like that. We’re gonna get into all of that during the course of the next hour. So Lisa, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you?
Lisa Yates  02:13
Thank you very much for You’re welcome. I’m, you know, I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m overwhelmed by life right now. So I’m excited, though, have this conversation.
Michael Hingson  02:29
So what’s overwhelming you today?
Lisa Yates  02:33
Well, I’m in the what is the experiment phase of my dissertation, in focus on Disability Studies in Higher Education. And I’m collecting participants. And so I’m hoping to get enough and all of the stress that’s involved in that. My adviser told me today that this is the fun part. And I said, Are we having fun yet, because I’m not quite having fun. But I think once I get my participants and actually start the, the experiment, it will probably be very fun. And I the Supreme Court decision that came down today and the one yesterday have overwhelmed me as far as concerns about the future of the country. And, and and actually, I’m concerned about what might happen with disability rights in America because the argument that they used for overturning Roe v Wade, was that it was not in keeping with the history and tradition of the interpretation of the Constitution for this country. And, you know, ugly laws were in keeping with the history and tradition of this country. And ugly laws stated that people with disabilities could not be seen in public and yeah, so I’m concerned on a lot of other was
Michael Hingson  03:57
also the decision on what was it Tuesday regarding religious freedom and the rights of religious organizations and so on and how is that going to affect the ADEA
Lisa Yates  04:10
right, and the gun the gun ruling for New York City after such a horrible shooting and involved in Buffalo that you know, I I just I am concerned about people having guns on their person that are not able that people other people don’t know that they have them and I just feel like the country right now is so anxious and stressed and frustrated and polarized and how will carrying guns concealed weapons help that situation? I just I don’t know what’s happening. I’m just saw an
Michael Hingson  04:53
interview this morning with the mayor of New York and Mr. Adams was was talking about that very thing. He said that this is going to make law enforcement a lot more difficult to do. Certainly the concept of Roe v. Wade, and overturning a precedent that had been in place 50 years, especially when some of the Supreme Court justices as they were being considered, during the last administration said, we’re not going to overturn precedent. Well, they just did. So that’s right. They did. Well, Tony, will tell me a little bit about you in terms of, obviously, you were very much involved in disabilities and so on. I’d love to know more about how you got involved in that and kind of what your early life was about.
Lisa Yates  05:41
Okay, well, how far back should I go?
Michael Hingson  05:44
Oh, as far as you want a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Yeah.
Lisa Yates  05:49
Oh, Star Wars reference like it? Well, I, I have done presentations before where I’ve shared with people that when I was growing up, we never, ever saw people with any kind of disability. We call them handicaps back then I call them predicaments now, but we never saw people because they weren’t allowed in restaurants. And they weren’t allowed in public places. And they didn’t go to our schools. And so that was my upbringing, and exposure with disability. If I did see somebody, it was maybe a disabled veteran who was kind of on the corner with a brown bag and a bottle, you know, because there was just nothing that they could do, or places they could go. I fast forward, had four children was a stay at home mom for 25 years, I had gotten my bachelor’s degree in liberal studies like 100 years ago, and then stayed home after I got my bachelor’s degree for 25 years. And when it was time to go back to school, I was planning on pursuing a speech. Well, it wasn’t time to go back to school, we were about to lose our house in the housing market, fiasco that was 2008. And I couldn’t get a job, even though I had a bachelor’s degree. And so I decided to go back to school and get a certificate in speech language pathology, where I would work with a speech language pathologist supporting students with autism or speech difficulties. And the the, my professor found that I had a bachelor’s degree and she said, Why don’t you get a master’s in speech language pathology instead of being an assistant? And so I got a scholarship that was actually for women returning to school after an absence, who had a hardship in Riverside County.
Michael Hingson  07:51
It was that specific why is that specific or what? Yeah,
Lisa Yates  07:55
so I went to Cal State Fullerton based on that scholarship to pursue a master’s in speech language pathology. While doing that, I found out that they had 300 applicants a year and they took 28. And that there was a really good chance that I wouldn’t get accepted. Even if I had straight A’s, which I almost did. One teacher gave me a B plus, I’ve never forgiven that teacher. But I know I know. And her reason was just ridiculous. But I won’t go into that. And so I was concerned that I might not be one of those people picked. I started exploring a master’s in special education instead found out that I could, I was guaranteed a spot in that program, got into that knew that I didn’t really want to teach kids in K through 12 found out that there was a learning disability certificate program through another University, Sacramento State, and that if I did that I could work in a community college as a learning disability specialist. So while I was completing my Master’s at Cal State Fullerton, I did this one year program at Sacramento State on learning disability certification for adults. Did that worked five colleges over the next I don’t know, four years, part time got a full time position as a veteran’s counselor at Chaffey College, which is a community college in Southern California. And then from there, I got a disability counseling position tenure track at the college that I’m now working in, in Southern California as well. And so I’ve also worked as an autism specialist at another college, a student success counselor at another college learning disability specialists and, and I’ve brought all of that into what I do now, which is, I think, serving students with disabilities like the whole person, not just managing or providing accommodations, to help them learn based on on whatever that specific challenges I like to, I really like to help the whole person and support the whole person. So that’s what I do.
Michael Hingson  10:09
You have certainly been a very busy individual, academically and so on. Yeah,
Lisa Yates  10:15
I like learning. Even when I was a stay at home mom, I was very much into my girls. I have four daughters, their education, and just always trying to learn more about how to be a good mom, because there’s no manual for that.
Michael Hingson  10:30
I mean, I don’t do that. They don’t give out meals for those.
Lisa Yates  10:33
Now, so I’m just trying to learn stuff about and active in the community and trying to figure out how to do things in the community. I’ve just always been a learner. Yeah, well,
Michael Hingson  10:43
So how old are the girls?
Lisa Yates  10:46
My youngest is 25.
Michael Hingson  10:49
I thought we were. Yeah, it was ages. Oh, yeah.
Lisa Yates  10:53
That’s why I can do all I’m doing now. Because my girls are gone. My next one is 29. My next one is 32. I think. And then the next one is turning 40. This year, and I have two adorable, well behaved, very intelligent grandchildren.
Michael Hingson  11:13
Is that Is there a husband on the scene as well? Yes. Just just checking one out. Have you had the talk with all the daughters saying, now that you’re grown up? Of course, you need to recognize that your job is to support mom and dad in the manner they want to become accustomed to?
Lisa Yates  11:33
No, in that one. Yeah. No, in fact, it’s more like they’re having conversations with me about like, are you gonna have you know, be okay, if you have like a stroke one day or?
Michael Hingson  11:46
It’s pretty negative.
Lisa Yates  11:47
No, they don’t they don’t say those words. But, you know, wanting to make sure that we have a good retirement plan. And we have a will and yeah, they’re there. Yeah, it’s
Michael Hingson  11:59
just tell them that they’re welcome to contribute to the retirement plan. You know, you accept contributions.
Lisa Yates  12:05
I will I will make sure that I left. Yeah.
Michael Hingson  12:08
So let’s talk about disabilities in in education and so on you I gather don’t have what would be classified as a disability.
Lisa Yates  12:18
I do actually I have a permanent so my, you know, there’s a lot of disability language out there are people do it differently diversely, abled, uniquely abled. I view it as human predicament. And I got that from Tom Shakespeare who’s a disability scholar. Because he people predicaments are common to humankind, right. It’s just that when it comes to body or mind predicaments, there’s that stigma that’s attached to them. So my particular body predicament is Fibromyalgia which is a chronic pain and fatigue kind of predicament. But it also presents with mind predicaments, because it causes foggy thinking, I have chronic insomnia, which causes me to have slow thought processes sometimes. Which is kind of ironic, because I love learning. And I get really frustrated when I don’t get things really fast, like I think I should. But I just tell myself what I tell my students that speed doesn’t mean smart. You know, it’s okay to take time to process information. So
Michael Hingson  13:35
forgive me this is interesting way to put it. The problem with the English language, and I think with languages in general is that words tend to change in meanings and are morphed by people in a variety of ways. For example, diversity. Diversity doesn’t generally include anyone who is classified as having a disability when we talk about Hollywood, and we talk about so many places, and we hear discussions about diversity. It’s all about race, gender, the sex or sexual orientation and so on. And if disabilities are mentioned at all, it’s kind of an afterthought. Yes, definitely an afterthought. And that’s unfortunate and predicaments is interesting. I would submit and I’ve said it here before that there is not one single person on the earth who doesn’t have a particular disability or what we’ll call predicament. And I think that all of you have a predicament that blind people don’t have, which is your light dependent. You don’t do well when there’s not light around. If we use the Americans with Disabilities Act as the model, Thomas Edison invented the electric light so that people with light dependency have a way to deal with the dark. Okay, that’s fine. You’ve covered it up. You do pretty well with it, but don’t negate the rest of us because of that. Yes. And yeah.
Lisa Yates  14:59
I was just saying I think the reason I like predicament is because when you talk about predicaments divorce is a predicament. Sure, actual troubles are a predicament, you know, we all have predicament so why? And I’ll tell you why I think that body mind predicaments in particular are relegated to, you know, the worst possible predicaments is because of Plato, it goes back to Plato’s Republic, where they base their whole culture, on the ability, the human reasoning ability, and physical ability, that people who had those higher levels, what they called higher levels of functioning, where leaders and all the slaves and peasants and people were considered less able, cognitively or physically, and, or physically. And I do think that that’s a lot of it as far as the language, English is a living language, if it stopped evolving, it would be like Latin, and it would just die. So it’s gonna keep evolving, but I think it’s important for us, those of us who are in this field, and also in other diverse fields to keep evolving in a positive way. And not, you know, negative, like, dis abled, which implies not abled, or handicapped, or whatever. And I agree, I have a good friend who’s blind. And we have an event at my college every year called Beyond the cover living books, which I created, in which students with disabilities share their lived experiences. And my friend, Cameron, who’s he’s been in two of those events. And he’s been blind since he was one and a half, I think he was sitting near someone who was talking about their bipolar because all different disabling predicaments were presented, not all several. And he after when it was over, and we were talking about it, he said he was so surprised that people would be so open about their mental illness, as he called it, which I would call by mind predicament, right? And I said, Well, you have to understand, those of us who are sighted, we have been sad, we’ve been confused, we’ve been stressed. So we can imagine what it’s like to be bipolar, or to be depressed or to be anxious or to have anxiety. But we are afraid of the dark, we walk through the world with our eyes being our number one sense. And so for us to imagine you walking through the world engaged and functioning and enjoying life without being able to use your eyes to see, it’s very confusing to us, because first thing we do is turn on a light when we get in a room, like you said, to enable ourselves to be able to see. So
Michael Hingson  18:16
we should be grateful to blind people. Because when we have severe power outages, and blackouts, and so on, the fact that we don’t turn on the lights tends to save everyone from themselves because we don’t need those lights. So we help with the electricity. Seriously. The the issue, though, is that, I think you’re absolutely right, we teach people to be afraid of something that’s different than we are Yes. And that’s exactly the problem. While we teach people to use their eyes, we don’t teach them to use the rest of their senses very well. We don’t teach them that you can go through the world without being able to see nowadays we have a lot more technology than we used to do, which should make it easier to accommodate persons who happen to be different than we are. But we still don’t. In fact, we use technology to make it worse, for example, it is easy today, electronically, to make documents that are fully accessible for blind persons. Yet, in reality, we want to make them visually aesthetic and available. So we may take a document and take a picture of it and store it as a PDF graphic which makes it inaccessible rather than including the text of it. And the fact of the matter is there is no reason to do that. But we don’t teach people that in reality, we need to be more inclusive and all we do and well. You’re right disability means lack of ability. I suddenly it, it doesn’t need to mean that disability can mean something different that isn’t negative. Since we’re good at warping words from time to time, we can change that meaning
Lisa Yates  20:11
we would have to change the meaning of the root word dis. And of course, that would be weird.
Michael Hingson  20:16
We’d have to do it. We would have to do it in that context, though,
Lisa Yates  20:20
right? It would it would be it’s firmly entrenched in the language, though. Because this, I’m Nick, if you look it up in the dictionary means Sure.
Michael Hingson  20:31
So yeah, but but the if you look up, see in the dictionary, S E. People always talk about a being with the eye, but one of the definitions in the dictionary is to perceive, yeah, for sure you can you can separate it out. Or you can say disability as a word has a different meaning than we think it does without interrupting the cons, you know, we don’t serve seem to have a problem with the word discourse, right? And so there are a lot of ways that we can change words,
Lisa Yates  21:02
I think discourse is used a lot less frequently than disabled. But,
Michael Hingson  21:06
but Well, I agree, but but it still has a different meaning for discourse as a word, then the negative context of dis. And so it’s all about
Lisa Yates  21:17
Well, it’s kind of similar, but Well,
Michael Hingson  21:21
yeah. But the point is that we can change meanings and we can change attitudes.
Lisa Yates  21:27
Yes. And my perspective is, and this is based on my research as a, you know, doctoral student, is that how can I say this? Person, sorry, what’s the word predicament is a generic, unbiased term, that can be applied to all humanity. And when I use the word disabled, I use it in reference to how the environment disables a person, not the person’s disability. And I do that because I believe that the cognitive, physical, mental, and mobile vision hearing conditions are significant and real, and are predicaments for sure. But it’s the environment that further disables the person. And so that’s how I use disabled or disability in terms of what we need to address in the environment to make it less. And again, my perspective is based on being in education, and supporting students, whereas yours is based on technology and your lived experience as a blind person. So we’re going to come at it differently,
Michael Hingson  22:53
somewhat, but I think we end up at the same place. And environment also can very much dictate the severity or seriousness of a or challenge of a predicament to absolutely, absolutely. So with, with people who are classified as having a disability and so on, how do we improve success rate as they get to college? And how do we get more of them into college environments and give them more of the opportunities that they should have the right to have?
Lisa Yates  23:30
Yeah, so the state of California, I can only speak about state of California. Yeah, that’s where I am, has, you know, mandated equal access to education. And so like in high school, special education counselors have to provide a transition plan for students with disabilities, including an offering them options to go to college. And so that’s, that’s one thing. And then once they get to college, and also in high school teachers provide modifications to assignments and accommodations, like extra time for testing and things like that. Once they come to college, then if they want to disclose and that’s part of the problem, they have to disclose their their challenges their predicament. If they want to disclose that, then they can get accommodations in college like a note taker, to assist them with taking notes because my view is an again, I’ve worked with students with vision hearing, chronic pain, cancer, pregnancy, learning disabilities, ADHD, depression, anxiety, all schizophrenia, right? All of those and my view as a learning disability specialist, and I would say now I’m more of a learning specialist than I am a learning disability specialist. Is that all challenge? Does all physical body mining segments? Yeah, body mind predicaments in particular impacts students learning efficiency, so not their intellectual ability. And the problem is a lot of teachers think they hear the word disabled, and they think, intellectually disabled, which used to be called mentally retarded, or they think, irrational, erratic, that these, whatever the challenge is, it’s going to mean that they can’t keep up with the rest of the students, they’re not going to succeed. And my, what I’ve learned is that it’s about processing efficiency. So students, whether whatever their challenge is, the brain becomes distracted by whatever their symptoms are. And that interferes with either visual processing, or auditory processing, or both. And in the college environment, the reason the college environment is disabling is because teachers talk very, very fast, they don’t use a lot of repetition, they will often, if they’re referring to a PowerPoint presentation, say, over here on the right, when somebody may have a vision impairment in class, and not know what they’re referring to over on the right, or show their slides very, very quickly, so that somebody who has whose sight is fine, but their visual processing speed is challenged, they don’t have the chance to really take it in, right, where they speak very quickly. And in somebody with an auditory processing challenge, they’re still thinking about what the teacher said a few minutes ago, and the teachers have moved on to this new topic. And so they’re having trouble processing that auditory information. And so what we do is we provide digital recorders, so students can use those in the classroom. And then they can hear the lecture over and over again, no takers, like I said, we have speech to text software where students can have their, where they can speak their words like Dragon or something like that into the computer, or text to speech where they can have their books uploaded to a computer, and the computer can read to them. And those are all accommodations based on the 20th century model of disability support and education. My view is that we need to evolve it to a 21st century model, and stop being reactive, and be more proactive with students in order to increase their success outcomes.
Michael Hingson  27:45
And what do you mean by that?
Lisa Yates  27:47
I mean, collaborating with instructors, a lot of times, disability professionals tend to keep the knowledge that we have in house, in our department. And we just work with the students. And I think that more and more we need to be leaving our department and educating educators about about intellectual ability and how about this, how disabilities affect learning efficiency and not intelligence. And from what I’ve been studying, and my experience with intellectual IQ, intellectual quotient, IQ, the way we measure it is wrong. And I think that it’s, we need to, like really be examining how we measure intellectual ability, because determining if somebody has a learning disability is based on their IQ, if we measure IQ, wrong, right? If we measure IQ wrong, then how can we determine if there’s actually a learning disability? If we’re basing it on an inaccurate measurement of IQ, that kind of thing? Well,
Michael Hingson  28:59
I, you know, it’s interesting, I would add another dimension to some of that, which does go back to the student a little bit. One of the problems well, let me rephrase it, one of the the values of colleges that you’re starting to learn to be prepared to live outside of the college and the school environment, much more than high school and elementary school and so on. And that’s good. And that’s the way it should be. I would say for blind students, and I’m talking about students who simply have a vision impairment, whether it’s total or partial. There are some things that really need to not be done that a lot of offices tend to do, like provide notetakers and such. And the reason I say that is one you’re right, we all need to work with the professors and the faculty. The students need to be encouraged to have those discussions with the faculty and then be able to you Use the office of students with disabilities as a backup, in case they can’t get the support and the cooperation and the opportunity to teach that they should have with a professor. But the other side of it is, when you graduate college, you won’t have access to people to take notes for you. And that’s why I think it’s extremely important. And I understand I’m only dealing it with it from the standpoint of vision impairments. But the problem with providing no takers is it’s covering up something that students need to learn, which is to take responsibility and to take charge. And again, if the student can get cooperation from faculty, that’s where the office and the rest of the administration come in, which is why your concept and your comment about educating and really moving us into the 21st century is so important.
Lisa Yates  30:56
So let me just address a couple of things there. Students come from K through 12, lacking advocacy skills, lacking self advocacy, most part, they’ve been in IEP meetings with teachers and parents, and the teachers and parents talk over them. So it’s actually kind of the reverse of what you said, they need us in the beginning. And my job, my goal, and
Michael Hingson  31:23
let me just interrupt, I’m not saying that they don’t need you. So
I’m not I’m not offended, I’m just addressing the timeline of what you said, I’m saying that what I tell parents when they first come for their intake is my goal is to have them get to a point where they don’t need the parents, and they don’t need me. But at first, they do need me. And especially until they develop the skills of self advocating, as far as the note taker is concerned. And usually, that’s what happens. It’s a bittersweet kind of thing. Because, you know, after a year or so I suddenly don’t see them anymore. And then I see them at graduation. And I’m like, so excited, because I know that they stopped coming to me because they didn’t need me anymore. But they develop those skills. Even when they use a note taker, they develop the skills by modeling their notes against no takers, they might use a note taker for the first year, and then not use note takers anymore. So I’m telling you, this is what often happens, they start off using accommodations, and they gradually wean themselves from them. As far as leaving education, unprepared for the world, the purpose of education, and I have this conversation with nursing faculty all the time, because they’re like, if they can’t do this quickly, they won’t be able to do it in the real world. And my point is, no, they’re supposed to learn how to do it here, right? Most likely, right? Most of the things that we are able to do on the job, we learn on the job, we don’t learn at school, school prepares us with the tools, and then we get to work and we learn we build off of those. So yeah, I kind of disagree.
Well, no, I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m agreeing with what you’re saying. The college is the place to teach those things. And the college is the place because it won’t happen earlier, where students learn to become advocates. And what I’m saying is, I think that’s the most important thing that your office and similar offices can provide, and should provide, is making sure that students become self advocates. That’s the most important thing that you can do it yeah, so So the kinds of things that I see and I hear today, from many students in college still is, oh, we have a test to do. The professor sends it over to the Office for Students with Disabilities. And I go there and I take the test and so on, that doesn’t serve a useful purpose, the student, your office, and the professors, and I say your office because oftentimes professors are very stubborn because they haven’t been educated by you yet. So the three have to work to get an environment that helps students to understand why they need to work with the professor, to be able to take that test and not have to use the Office for Students with Disabilities. And I see this often.
Let me explain why it does serve a purpose. So students within again, you’re you might be coming from the perspective of somebody who’s blind who doesn’t need extra time for testing, although, in my experience, most of my blind student and use extra time for testing. The reason it serves a purpose is because there are so many different types of disabilities.
I agree with that. And I’m when I’m not arguing with the concept, I’m arguing, I am speaking specifically about blindness. I’m not arguing with the overall concept, because every one is different. And that’s why in the very beginning, I said, I’m dealing specifically with a person who has a vision impairment and nothing else because anything else is going to change it.
So with, okay, if we’re just going to talk about blind students, which is really hard for me, because I
Michael Hingson  35:37
started Oh, students, you and you’re in your right,
Lisa Yates  35:40
but and I, I mean, I, yeah. If I’m just going to talk about blind students, there is still the fact the issue of distraction, the brain being distracted. So the reason the distraction reduced room and the extra time for testing helps, is because it’s really hard for the brain to focus and pull in the information that the that the person has studied into the working memory part of the brain, and do well on the test when the ears are hearing people turning in their test. And the student is only on number 10, or something like that. And so the distraction reduced room allows students to focus and calm.
Michael Hingson  36:26
And that doesn’t happen to take place for students with eyesight, who are on number 10, while other students are walking up and turning in their tests.
Lisa Yates  36:35
No. It’s also I just used because we’re talking about blind students.
Michael Hingson  36:39
Now I know. But my point is that, why is it different for blind people than it is for sighted people with that scenario,
Lisa Yates  36:46
I’m just because
Michael Hingson  36:49
because I do Cocytus people are going to be distracted when somebody walks up. And I’m not saying necessarily that the test will take place in the classroom. Because there are challenges with doing that. What I’m saying is that the student and the professor need to, collectively, eventually, they have to be the ones to take responsibility to collectively work out the best way for the student to take the test. And to make it fair, and that’s what I’m getting at,
Lisa Yates  37:17
you didn’t have to be ready to do that. And I’m telling you that most of our students, when they come in are not ready to have those sure patients with the instructor. And as far as the distraction part, absolutely. Lots of people are distracted, the brain is distracted, whether you’re sighted or not sighted when you’re taking a test. But for students who prefer a distraction, reduced room, and they feel that it helps them to do a better to perform better on a test. Because of that lack less distraction, we have to be able to provide that. And I think it’s wrong to say we should just put them out there and tell them to go for it and do the best they can. Without that support. Using again, your scenarios coming in
Michael Hingson  38:05
using again, your scenario, however, then sighted people who are easily distracted, distracted, should have that same opportunity.
Lisa Yates  38:13
I agree.
Michael Hingson  38:15
So I’m fine as long as that’s something that is done for everyone. But we don’t do that. Now. So that means changing the whole system, which may be the way we have to go.
Lisa Yates  38:25
Hold on. So the thing about allowing all sighted people who do not have any kind of body mind predicament to use extra time for testing is that it doesn’t it doesn’t provide an even playing field for students who are distracted and by their symptoms.
Michael Hingson  38:45
And that’s why I didn’t say and that’s why I didn’t say extra time. I said distraction. Right? So there’s a difference. So if you’re a fully sighted person who gets distracted, then why shouldn’t I be able to go into a room and be allowed only the same hour that anyone else would be but I’m not going to be distracted because I’m in a quiet room.
Lisa Yates  39:07
So here is the other thing that I think you don’t understand. Accommodations are there for students to use or not use. If a student doesn’t feel like they need extra time for testing. They don’t use it. Sure. Student doesn’t feel like they need and when you began, you didn’t say time or distraction. You said going to the students with disabilities department to take their test. And for me, that is extra time and distraction reduced because they’re they’re coupled together. That’s how it comes as an accommodation.
Michael Hingson  39:40
I think. Yeah.
Lisa Yates  39:43
All of the accommodations that we provide, it’s totally up to the students if they want to. We have students who are deaf or hard of hearing, who we don’t give extra time to testing for unless it’s an audible test, because they don’t need extra time for testing for a written test. If the student has a vision impairment. And during the intake intake process, they say, Oh, I don’t need extra time for testing, we don’t give it to him is totally up to the student if they use them or don’t use them. And it’s different for every student,
Michael Hingson  40:14
I think you will find, and again, I’m dealing with blindness, that blind people who grow up and go to college and graduate and go into the workforce. There are a significant number of those people who will say that the offices tried to force us to do some things that we didn’t need, like extra time, I don’t need extra time. They say, a lot of times they offer that, but sighted students don’t get don’t get that. So why should I simply because I’m blind, we don’t force students to you know, I understand that, I understand that you’re not forcing a student when
Lisa Yates  40:51
you that, I don’t know where they had that experience, because that all of the accommodations are completely, completely up to the student to use or not use, Nobody forces, anything on any student. There are plenty of students who have disabilities who never sign up with our department, it’s your choice. But if a student comes to our department and says, I want to use accommodations, then we say these are the accommodations you can use, whether it’s Braille, if you’re talking about somebody who’s blind, or a magnet, portable magnifier, if you’re talking about that, which again, I’m talking about all students with disabilities, but we don’t make students use anything that’s like, nobody, I can’t even believe that anybody would say that they force me to use anything.
Michael Hingson  41:39
No, I didn’t. Force and and I and I didn’t say that. But you did. There is a there is a difference between expectations and, and offering things to people. That may not be although they’ll they may or may not take advantage of it. But offering things continuing to say how you’re different rather than helping people learn more to compete in the world that we’re going to face. And I think that there’s a lot that needs to be done in that regard. But let me ask you this. Where do you see the future of support from offices like yours and other offices going is because life and predicament concepts evolved?
Lisa Yates  42:30
Well, I think that because we some of the services we offer are mandated by the state. And you know, who knows how things are going to change with this conservative, you know, Supreme Court, I don’t know what’s going to happen as far as Special Education and Disability Support and education. But here’s the thing, accommodations help. Like I’ve seen so many studies, conducted with students with disabilities who say things like, I don’t know where I would have been, if not for the accommodations or from the support of the Disability Support Department, and coupled with disability friendly instructors who modify or are flexible, because I have, again, I’m not just talking about students who are blind. I have students who get hospitalized, I have students who have mental health flare ups, I have students who and teachers refuse to be flexible about deadlines, and there are so many things that I have students who are blind who need for one reason or another, more flexible deadlines to complete the information because of technology issues, or because of you know, whatever. So I think that as far as where we’re going, the accommodations are mandated. And I think that yeah, we need to stretch outside of our department to work more closely with instructors. And I think that we have to attack the intersectionality of racism and disablism or ableism in college, because that’s a huge area that is has been neglected, especially when you talk about diversity, income, and I’ve and disability is another huge area that needs to be addressed. ESL and disability is another huge area that needs to be addressed. We’re just, you know, we’re still under the mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which, although there was an amendment in 2008, it’s still pretty much a 20th century. And the I’m, I am motivated personally by the United Nations and the World Health Organization’s imperatives to governments, communities and schools to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. And I’m, for me, it’s the school part because people But with disabilities not talking about blind people, I’m talking about disabled people, disabled by the environment, but also by a condition. Those who complete their degree, they’re employed at similar rates to people who don’t have a disability who have a degree. But people with disabilities who do not have a degree, they’re unemployed at a double rate compared to people without disabilities who don’t have a degree. So education matters. But it has to be equal. It has to be equitable, more than equal, it has to be equitable. And that’s what accommodations do they help to increase the equity, but the teachers in the classroom have to extend that equity as far as their pedagogy and their practices and their policies especially?
Michael Hingson  45:52
Well, yeah, um, can I, I have no problem with the concept of accommodations. And I’m mostly on top of everything that we’ve discussed, pleased about the concept of doing more to educate professors. And I would say the college administration’s as a whole, because they’re colleges are a reflection of society for the most part. And it really is important to develop, and get implemented more of a program to educate people at the college level, on campus, about this whole issue of disabilities and inclusion. And that’s something that
Lisa Yates  46:36
we need to do the whole problem with accommodations. So I’m just saying no, I
Michael Hingson  46:41
don’t have a problem with accommodations, I have a problem with how they’re often used. I’m all for and I think you’ve misread me because I have no problem with the concept of accommodations. But I do have a problem with what I’ve seen from talking with many students. And again, I deal mostly with blindness, who talk about how the accommodations are used. And I think that there is an issue that probably needs to be addressed. But we’re not going to solve that today. But I’m mostly glad that we talk about education, and how we get to have more people understand the needs, that students with disabilities have, and why we have the accommodations, and that we need to educate people about the fact that just because some of us have a predicament different than they, it doesn’t mean that we’re mentally challenged unnecessarily, or less capable overall than they. And so I think that that’s one of the most important things that we we need to figure out ways to do, which is to do more to, to deal with the education of of college, faculty and staff. And then not enough of that probably occurs across the country. Nope. So it’s a it’s a real challenge and something that we we do have to face. Well, what’s your thesis about?
Lisa Yates  48:08
Well, I guess the title is very long. It’s a dissertation. It’s not a thesis. This is for Master’s dissertation.
Michael Hingson  48:17
Well, what’s your what’s your dissertation about? What’s your PhD research about?
Lisa Yates  48:22
So my research question is using interpretive phenomenological analysis to explore the impact of disability awareness event of a specific disability awareness event on the disability perceptions of college stakeholders. And my original question was only looking at the perceptions of non disabled college stakeholders. Because we have this event beyond the cover every year for disability awareness month where students share what their life their experience, their lived experiences, have been going to school and dealing with disability which the reason I started it was because I really want it faculty to understand because because of the disclosure issues, teachers can’t ask students questions about their disability, or they believe they can’t ask them unless the student brings it up. And so I thought, if we could have this event every year where students just openly shared, you know, with faculty and with other students, and with administrators and with staff, then it would increase awareness and understanding about disabilities. And so originally it was going to be non disabled college stakeholders, because because I really wanted to build off of this study and then do another study with my students with disabilities who have participated in the event, but I’ve just changed my mind because this whole time I’ve been working on my dissertation it’s really bothered me that I didn’t think lewd people with disabilities in the college stakeholders, I believe firmly in Nothing about us without us. But I was worried that if I included somebody with a disability, it would skew the study. And I’ve just decided to add that because I want to know the inside perspective, like I have some people who have attended the events who also have a disability. And I didn’t include them, because my research question was non disabled college stakeholders. But I talked to my advisor today. And I said, I really want to change this. And she said, yeah, you can change it. So I’m excited about that. Basically, at each event, each beyond the cover event, participants who come to learn, so the students with disabilities are considered living books. And when we used to have it on campus, we always had it in the library. And I had these cute little library cards for each living book with, they would have to come up with we have a website where they have their their picture, they have to come up with a title of their book. And they have to write an abstract a couple of paragraphs or a paragraph about their experience. And so my blind friend, who was one of my first living books, his title was sometimes technology sucks, because in him talking to me about his lived experience, and I was writing as he talked, and I do that for a lot of the students because they’re like, I don’t know what to say. And I say, just tell me about yourself. And so then I Right. At one point, he talked about his math book in high school, and that it took up, it was a braille book, and it took five boxes. I don’t know if it was high school, it might have been high school. So I got five boxes. And I said, Oh, my gosh, that must be so much better now with technology. And he said, Yeah, but sometimes technology sucks. Yeah, we decided to go with that title. Because sometimes technology sucks for all of us, right? That’s not a blind thing, versus a sighted thing is just a thing. And so he titled his, sometimes technology sucks. And a lot of people wanted to come and talk to him, because they’re like, yeah, it does, right. But then when they came to talk to him, we realized he realized how many people didn’t understand his life, and that he, you know, watch his movies, and he, you know, has a life and he doesn’t just sit in a dark room all day long. And the students with bipolar and schizophrenia and depression, you know, sharing what it’s like for them to try to, you know, manage school, and family, and work and their disability. And so people would come and talk to them, and come away. And then at the end of each event, they complete the surveys. And I always ask them, Did you learn something new? And if so, what did you learn? What surprised you?
Lisa Yates  53:07
And I don’t know the couple other questions, but those are the two questions that I’m using from their surveys for my study. So I’m going to meet with my participants, read what they wrote on their survey, and explore it and expand it to see, first of all what they meant by it, but also to see if in the time since they attended the event, if that learning or that perception has lasted, if they acted on it, if it changed them in any way, especially teachers if it changed how they teach, or how they approach students with disabilities. And then, yeah, my next study is going to be with the living books themselves, to talk about what it was like for them to share their experiences with strangers in a climate where up until recently, people didn’t do that. So yeah, that’s my study,
Michael Hingson  54:05
an interesting topic that you mentioned, which is you’re developing theory of the ability spectrum. Tell me about that. That sounds kind of fascinating.
Lisa Yates  54:16
Um, I just did a presentation at Disability Conference in Baltimore on this topic, actually. And so like I said, as a learning disability specialist, I was trained to assess IQ, right. And then we use the intelligence or the ability quotient, that the organic kind of supposedly natural abilities, and we compare that to achievement in English, math, different things like that. And then we look for a discrepancy. And that’s how we would determine if there’s a learning disability. But over the years of doing it, I’ve met with so many students who I would read their intelligence quotient either that I conducted or somebody else conducted. And it would say that they were in the intellectual disability range, which used to be known as mental retardation. And I would be like, but you’re not that person like, this doesn’t match with what the paperwork says here. And so I started researching how intelligence tests came about how they’re used, how they’re whether or not they include people with disabilities when they construct them. And just there’s a lot of problems with IQ tests, racial issues, they stem from they stem from I can’t think of the word right now, you know, the eugenics eugenics was the father of intelligence test. And the whole purpose was to prove that the white male race might that white males were more intelligent than women more intelligent than people of color. And so I there’s, they’re flawed from the beginning. And they’ve definitely gotten better. They include more diverse populations now in their sample size, when they’re, when they’re norming them, but even the word norming? Yes, yes, that there’s a standard that is based on something. And that thing that it’s based on is usually that white male standard. And so I have, I just have problems with it. And so my idea, my research is that we can’t just look at so intelligence tests look at verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, which is visual spatial processing speed, and working memory, those four things determine a person’s IQ. And my premise is that there’s so many other things that go into IQ, like mindset, like predicaments, you know, if you are being tested for your IQ on this day, and you’re hungry, because you haven’t eaten in a couple of days, or you’re going through a divorce, or your parents are abusing you, like that affects how well you respond on an IQ test, right? If you the school district that you grew up in your K through 12, lacked resources, that’s going to show up on your IQ tests, there are so many things. And so my view is that intelligence is not linear with this bell curve of normal in the middle, which is 85 to 115. Intelligence is spectral, and it spirals out like a pinwheel. And all of those spirals kind of overlap each other when we’re talking about intelligence. And we can’t just say, you know, you, you’re at 81. So you’re below normal, when they’re all these other things that go into your intelligence.
Michael Hingson  58:04
Well, you mentioned though, you called it ability spectrum. And that’s what was sounded really fascinating.
Lisa Yates  58:10
So yeah, the ability and intelligence are kind of used interchangeably doing an intelligence test, you’re looking at organic abilities, but you’re only looking at those four abilities processing speed working with you now. And so yeah, that’s they’re kind of interchangeable.
Michael Hingson  58:27
So it sounds interestingly, like we need to reevaluate the whole concept of what goes into an IQ test, as it were. Absolutely.
Lisa Yates  58:36
And they are, I mean, you know, they’re every five years or so they re Vamp the IQ tests, and they try to, for what, for instance, one thing they were having problems with, like between, I’m gonna say the 80s and the 90s. With the I think it was the waist IQ test was they had a picture of an ashtray. And it used to be that everybody identified that has an ashtray. Everybody who was sighted, identified that as an ashtray. Well, as people stopped smoking, all the sudden people were like, scoring low on their perceptual reasoning because nobody knew what the picture was anymore. And a friend of mine who’s doing learning disability assessments now. They’ve just recently moved to a new adaptation of the ways she’s finding more and more African Americans are testing in the intellectually disabled category than ever before. Something they did in changing the new test is not working right. It’s not accurate, because why do we all of a sudden have so many intellectually disabled African Americans, right, so and then there was one question on there that she told me about that. It was a nun onsens word. And for Latinx people, this nonsense word was a racial slur. But the people who made the test didn’t know that. And so, you know, you’re trying to test somebody and they’re like, I’m not gonna say that word. You know?
Michael Hingson  1:00:17
Does this mean that one test shouldn’t fit all anymore?
Lisa Yates  1:00:22
One test should never have fit all. Never, ever, ever.
Michael Hingson  1:00:27
Good for you? Yeah, and that’s really the point, right? I mean, it’s, there are so many factors that go into it. Yeah, I think I’ll deal with and we still go ahead.
Lisa Yates  1:00:41
I was just gonna say I think that people will always try to find a way to make other people seem less. Yeah, that’s it. And it’s not just that we teach them. One of the authors that I cite in my dissertation is Zygmunt Bauman. And he wrote a series of books. He was a World War Two, his family escaped. I can’t remember now, his family escaped Poland, I think, right at the beginning of World War Two. And he wrote about, gosh, I can’t remember. Not collective unconsciousness. But he talked about people, we have this innate need to be better than other people. Because back in the day, you know, hundreds of years ago, yeah, 1000s of years ago, people looked up at the sky. And they were overwhelmed by their, the, the magnitude of it, and the weather and the stars and the vastness of the universe. And that, because of that they felt little. And so because they felt little, they need to make other people feel a little littler than they Yeah, I can’t remember. It’s not collective unconsciousness. It’s I can’t think of the word. But it’s a good phrase. It’s in my dissertation, but I haven’t looked at my dissertation. months. So yeah, it’s Well, eventually.
Michael Hingson  1:02:21
That’s okay. Well, we’ve been doing this a while. And I will tell you, I have learned a lot. It’s been very educational. And I hope it’s been fun for you. Yeah, to, to do this. And, and we got to do it again, especially when you get your dissertation closer to being done. Or whenever you want to come back, we’d love to hear more about the study and how all that goes. If people want to reach out to you, and maybe learn more about you or talk with you or whatever, how can they do that?
Lisa Yates  1:02:50
Well, I just want to say to that, it was really interesting for me as well, I think I rarely talk to people outside of academia, about disabilities and accommodations and how we support students with disabilities. And so it is really interesting to me to hear your view of accommodations, even though of course, it’s coming from the perspective of blind students, but it’s, it’s, it’s gonna give me something to think about.
Michael Hingson  1:03:18
But I also do understand what you’re talking about in terms of, there’s a lot more than blindness in terms of what you have to deal with, concerning accommodations. And that’s fine.
Lisa Yates  1:03:28
I mean, honestly, blind students are a small percentage of students. Mental health is the fastest growing, it was the fastest growing disability category before the pandemic, and now it’s the fastest growing in the country. So when
Michael Hingson  1:03:43
if we were going to turn really obnoxious and we’d say much less, what about politicians? How can we ever do anything with them? But that’s another story. Yeah,
Lisa Yates  1:03:50
no, I’m not gonna go.
Michael Hingson  1:03:53
What kind of a test can we get for them? But anyway?
Lisa Yates  1:03:57
No, don’t don’t? Don’t have me go there. No, no, it really, um, it’s important to hear other people’s perspectives. And I just wanted you to understand what we do in terms of supporting and then it is important for students who need it, students who want it to get it at the beginning, because if they don’t, they end up a year after coming to us and their grade point average has gone down and they’re like, I need help. And it’s like, you should have come you know, at the beginning. So, but yeah, I’m, uh, I’m on LinkedIn, Lisa Yates on LinkedIn. I think I have a thing but I don’t know what my, My callsign is on LinkedIn. I have an Instagram that I never look at, because I’m just always working, working working. But you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m also on Facebook for sure. And I check that a little more often, but not as much as I used to I’m I work at Mount San Jacinto College, you can look me up there. And, yeah, I’m just really motivated in wanting to do my part to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. And I do not say that to mean that everybody who has a disability needs their life improved, I do not think that at all. But for those who want to, and those who need to, through education, my goal is to do whatever I can do to help that.
Michael Hingson  1:05:34
I will, I will tell you that anytime anyone wants to be involved in help educate and help improve, and help raise awareness. That totally works for me. So I really appreciate what you’re doing. And I’m glad you’re going to continue to do that. We’re, we’re excited. And I’m very serious. I’d love to learn more as your study progresses, and so on. And if there’s ever a way that we can help you know how to reach me, and I’d love to definitely stay in touch and have you back on when you have one to talk about regarding your dissertation and the study and so on.
Lisa Yates  1:06:14
Yeah, I’m, I’m game for that, for sure. I’m excited to see what happens after my study, like, I’m sure that there will be people who will be like, yeah, I forgot everything, you know, the next day after the event. And, you know, that’s what science is about. It’s getting all perspectives, but I just really believe in this, like, before, people started being more expressive about disabilities. We were doing this and we were saying, we need to be talking about this, we need to not just be hiding it behind closed doors. And I think, you know, if you know somebody who has a challenge, it reduces your, your prejudice and your bias. And you see that people are just people with predicaments. You know, that’s what we are,
which is a good way to end it. And I really appreciate you doing that. Well, thank you very much for being here. And I hope everyone has enjoyed this conversation today. It has been a lot of fun. And I hope that you will reach out to Lisa and also reach out to us. And if you have any comments, love to hear them. You can reach me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com or go to www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast or wherever you’re listening to this podcast, please give us a five star rating. We appreciate it. Your ratings are invaluable to us and what we do. So we hope that you’ll be back with us again next week. And Lisa, once more. Thank you very much for being with us today.
Lisa Yates  1:07:56
Thank you, I appreciate it.
Michael Hingson  1:08:02
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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