There are various reasons for not taking advantage of campus disability services, such as…

  • Fear of stigma
  • Embarrassment
  • Wanting to maintain a sense of “normalcy” by not self-disclosing
  • Procrastination
  • Hopelessness
  • Perceived quality and usefulness of services
  • Negative experiences
  • Insufficient knowledge
  • Identity issues, such as a desire for self-sufficiency
  • Being taught to “tough it out”
  • Saying they don’t have enough time
  • Difficulty with follow-through
  • Different cultural norms regarding help-seeking

Some of these traits may also be associated with individuals’ disabilities.

Here’s an activity to discuss these barriers to help-seeking…

  • Before participants arrive, write each of the traits above on individual pieces of paper and put them in a hat or bowl.
  • Then, when people arrive, discuss how you’re going to try putting yourselves in the shoes of people with disabilities to better understand their motivations, fears and more.
  • Split participants into groups of 2-4 people each.
  • Have each group choose a piece of paper.
  • Explain that they’ll explore their chosen trait for the next 20 minutes, listing related issues, resources, fears, ways to encourage help-seeking and more.
  • Have a spokesperson for each group share their findings with the larger group.
  • Encourage each group to take one idea and flesh it out into an actionable initiative.
  • These can be shared with the appropriate resources on campus as possible solutions to help encourage more help-seeking behaviors.

You can find activities, case studies, handouts, self-work and more like this associated with Ability and Accessibility, in addition to nine other diversity-related topics, in our 10 More Campus Diversity Training Workshops resource.