LAWRENCE — Amanda Thompson, a University of Kansas senior from Lincoln who is majoring in speech-language-hearing, has won the 2013 Michael Lechner Advocacy Award from the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns. The annual award recognizes a Kansan with a disability who has effectively advocated for changes in his or her community to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Thompson will receive the award Friday, Nov. 1, at KCDC’s annual meeting.
Thompson is vice president of AbleHawks and Allies, a student group that raises awareness of accessibility needs and other disability issues. Last spring, she worked with KU Student Senate and other campus organizations to stage a disability awareness event that informed people about the experience wheelchair users have entering Strong Hall through the back entrance, the only accessible entrance at present.
In her role as an Accessibility Ambassador for KU’s office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, Thompson has also contributed to a more inclusive campus by educating KU staff members in several offices about disability etiquette and what it means to have an invisible disability such as her own, traumatic brain injury. Thompson also starred in a video featured in a mandatory training for all faculty about KU’s policies for academic accommodations.
Jamie Lloyd Simpson, director of accessibility and ADA education at KU, works with students with disabilities to improve campus accessibility. She said, “Most students with invisible disabilities have the option to keep the disability invisible. Ms. Thompson changes hearts and minds about disability because she courageously shares her own experience with our campus.”