Facebook pixel Seen and Unseen: International Day of Persons With Disabilities Celebrated This Week

Seen and Unseen: International Day of Persons With Disabilities Celebrated This Week

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Austin CarboneMore than one billion people in the world have a disability. This makes persons with disabilities the world’s largest minority. 

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated each year on Dec. 3, promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The day aims to raise awareness of how people with disabilities have a presence in the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of life around the world. 

While disabilities can be seen and unseen, the access office at St. Louis Community College strives to provide all students an equitable and accessible learning environment. To achieve this, staff members coordinate support services and reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. 

Austin Carbone is one of these students. He’s pursuing a degree in general transfer studies at Wildwood. 

Carbone also has autism. While this diagnosis is part of who he is, he doesn’t let it define him.

“Autism is a spectrum. Some people with autism are dependent on others their whole lives, but that’s not me,” he said. “I’m making it on my own and I’m determined to achieve my goals.” 

In fact, Carbone is set to graduate this month with his degree. After STLCC, he plans to study secondary education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His ultimate career goal is to become a high school computer teacher. 

“From an early age, I’ve always been interested in technology,” he said. “I enjoy taking things apart and trying to figure out how they fit back together. Over the years, I’ve also gotten into videos and card games. These are things I enjoy doing with my friends.” 

On campus, Carbone has made it a priority to be active and involved. He’s serving as president of Spanish Club and serving on Wildwood’s Budget Committee. He’s also taken part in activities with Green 4 Life and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). 

As a provisional member of PTK, Carbone is helping the team complete its Honors in Action project, “One Sense at a Time:  Gardening on the Spectrum.” This project focuses on creating a new sensory garden for children at the Wildwood Family YMCA. 

“As someone who is autistic, I can provide personal experience and perspective to help advance and support this important work,” he said. “Everyone can benefit from getting their hands dirty, connecting with nature and spending time outside.” 

Wildwood studentsRJ Weinman, PTK president and classmate, completely agrees. 

“Austin is one of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” he said. “He’s a good guy and a great asset to our team. Our PTK project would not have gotten done without him paying attention to all the details and keeping us on track.” 

Along with his classmates, Carbone has developed strong connections with faculty and staff. Lynn Demirchian, access coordinator, is one of these individuals. The two meet regularly to discuss his college and career plans as well as the accommodations he’s receiving at STLCC. 

“Austin has a heart of gold. He’s one of the most thoughtful students that I work with,” she said. “He is self-aware and he advocates for himself. He is open about his struggles, but shy about his accomplishments. I know he has a bright future ahead of him, and I can’t wait to see what he achieves.” 

STLCC students with disabilities who feel they could benefit from support or accommodations are encouraged to visit stlcc.edu/access to learn more about the access office team and what they can do to help.

Pictured in the accompanying group photo are, from left, Gabrielle Paraino, Austin Carbone and RJ Weinman.

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