What is your name and what do you do? My name is Micah Fialka-Feldman. I work in the School of Education at Syracuse University. I am teaching assistant in SPE 311 Perspectives in Disabilities.
What is your favorite thing about working at SU? My favorite part about working at SU is working with the people I work with. I like being around people who think similarly to how I think about disability, politics, and other things. I like being in a place that has trained teachers and students about inclusion.
Why is it important to include students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at SU? It is important to include students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at SU because students with disabilities should (and do) meet people without disabilities.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for students with IDD when they are trying to access higher education? I think the biggest challenge for students with IDD to access higher education is that some people hold attitudes that people with disabilities should not go to college. There are several college programs around the country that are changing those attitudes by allowing students with IDD to take classes and experience life on a college campus.
In your work as a TA in SPE 311, what do you hope your students will learn? I hope my students will learn how to think differently about disability and people with disabilities.
You are also teaching a seminar to InclusiveU students about how to create a circle of support? Why is this important? I think it is important because it teaches people about how to make a Circle of Support. A circle helps people learn about how to support each other and how to ask for help when people need support from other people.
In your work outside of SU, how are you making a difference in the disability rights movement? I think I am giving people hopes and dreams. I continue to speak around the country and I continue to give parents hopes and dreams. I get to teach self-advocates how to stand up for their rights. I speak at many conferences and I want to help the new young leaders of the disability rights movement.
What would you like to do in the future? I would like to continue working at Syracuse University. As I teach more at SU I would like to challenge students to learn that there are more similarities between people with and without disabilities.
What piece of advice do you have for people with IDD, when working to live more independently? I think it is to be able to learn how to advocate for themselves and know that they can ask for help with support from their team, families, and people around them.
Micah Fialka-Feldman is a national speaker, self-advocate and pioneer who fights for disability-pride, justice, and inclusion. He is part of the first wave of adults with intellectual disabilities who attended college and has been fully included in school and community. Micah earned a Certificate in Disability Studies at Syracuse University in 2015 through InclusiveU. He is a Teaching Assistant at School of Education at Syracuse University and works at the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education as the Outreach Coordinator. In May of 2014, Micah was appointed by President Obama to President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Read more about Micah here: http://www.throughthesamedoor.com.