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Disability Friendly State University

October 6th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

October is disability employment month, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, Florida State University began this semester with new facility and a new program designed to raise awareness year round and into the future.

J.R. Hardings new office in the FSU College of Business is dotted with action pictures of the quadriplegic former football player on roller coasters and water skis.

“And only 30 percent of Floridians with disabilities are working at all” says Harding.

JR became a quadriplegic after a high school fight. As an under grad he was the only wheelchair bound student at the University of Western Kentucky. He’s been fighting for inclusion ever since.”

“and I was one of three at West Florida getting my masters” he told us.

Florida State already bills itself as the most veteran friendly school in the country. J.R.’s job is to make it the most disability friendly as well.

“It’s a natural extension. Veterans have amputees and other kinds of visible and invisible disabilities” says Harding.

The program is really more about students who don’t have disabilities, but who graduate from here and go on to be future business leaders in Florida.

“How do we teach a future entrepreneur , a future business owner, a future land owner how to make their property good for all citizens” he asks.

He’s  has been a frequent guest lecturer. Fabric Jean-Louis says his presentation to a real estate class two years ago was eye opening.

“I thought it was something that we needed. I think he should be speaking to every class, not just the business classes” says Jean-Louis.

So JR and now FSU believe that by reaching future business leaders, the future won’t be such a struggle when students of different abilities enter the work force.”

Harding reports directly to FSU Provost Sally McRorie. She declined an an on camera interview but responded with a statement which says in part “Dr. Harding brings a wealth of knowledge, advocacy and experience, which will help FSU become a more inclusive community for students, faculty and staff with disabilities. He also will help our entire student body understand how disabilities will impact their future careers and communities.

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