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Nicole Nabors speaks on accessibility and inclusion

by Zach Wagner - Copy Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 09:00 pm
Nicole Nabors
(above) visited The College at Brockport to share her personal
story on living with a disability and what we can do to be more
open and accessible to those affected by certain impairments.
Nicole Nabors (above) visited The College at Brockport to share her personal story on living with a disability and what we can do to be more open and accessible to those affected by certain impairments.

The College at Brockport hosted guest speaker Nicole Nabors on Monday, Nov. 4, in the McCue Auditorium. Her story helped to shed light on moving through life as a person with a disability, sharing her struggles and how she has used her experience as motivation to keep her head high. 

“Tonight we are going to talk about something that I am really passionate about,” Nabors said in her opening statement to the audience. 

“It’s a demographic that has been marginalized for a series of reasons — over the course of tonight, we are explaining the terms of disability, disabled and inclusion — it is my hope that you will become advocates for inclusion.” Nabors said. 

Nabors educated students on how people with disabilities are the fastest growing minority in the country with 22% of all people in the state of New York identifying with having some sort of disability and one out of every four people identify throughout the country. 

She explains the changes in society when it comes to a person with a disability, using the correct terminology to avoid offending someone who might not want to identify with their disability based on the capacity of their impairment. She painted the picture for the audience, using a flower. She asked students to close their eyes and imagine a flower, then a red flower and finally a field of red flowers. She points out that no matter what type or color flower you saw, you still saw something and that is the beauty of it. 

“We no longer use terms like blind or deaf, some people may not be offended by that but the ethical language is hearing impaired, vision impaired, mobility impaired or cognitively impaired,” Nabors said. 

She continues, touching on the fact that even with a disability there are still ways to learn, just in a different fashion. Nabors uses the well known icon Hellen Keller as an example, as Keller was severely impaired but prevailing through those troubles to become very successful in her lifetime. 

“Hellen Keller is someone who was vision impaired and hearing impaired, but she was the first person who was vision and hearing impaired that graduated with a bachelor’s degree. You know her as a writer and an advocate — I cannot even wrap my mind around how lessons were formulated for her to learn,” Nabors said. 

Nabors went into her own story, grabbing the full attention of the room as she shared her personal battle in her efforts to rebuild her life following the tragedies she faced in September of 2006. 

“I’m going to share my story, is that alright,” Nabors said. “The picture you see is my cousin and myself, this was taken on July 4, 2006 I didn’t know that a couple of months from this day my life would drastically change.” 

Nabors and her cousin were returning home from a night out on the town. A man was waiting outside for them as they arrived but seemed “cordial” according to Nabors. 

“In spite of what I saw every alarm in me was going off — I mean everything in me, there was bells I didn’t even know I had and they we were ringing,” Nabors said. 

Being the younger cousin, Nabors had faith that she was safe in the hands of her older family member. As her cousin came back into the house, the man she was with stayed outside smoking a cigarette supposedly waiting for his ride. 

“He walked in, opened the door and as he crossed the threshold he pulled out a gun and he cocked it, walked up to her and said ‘if you ain’t going to be with me, you ain’t going to be with anyone’ and shot her three times in the head,” Nabors said. 

The man then turned to Nabors and she reached up to the heavens yelling out “Jesus have mercy on me” as he fired the gun at her as well. 

“Slowly my arms came down, I looked down and I caught myself, ‘don’t look down or you’ll panic,’” Nabors said. “I went to reach for my phone but my left arm didn’t move — a couple days later I woke up in a whole different city.” 

Upon awakening, Nabors found out the tragic news she was shot in the neck, which caused injury in her left arm. She also took a bullet to the torso, which lodged in her spine taking away her ability to walk. She was flown from Buffalo to Niagara Falls to make sure she had the right resources at her disposal for the multiple surgeries she would endeavor. 

This life changing experience was rough for Nabors at first. She felt guilt, she felt robbed of what her future might have held. It took years for her to bounce back and fully recover from what she experienced but, according to the people closest to Nabors, it was a pivotal point shaping her into the person she is today. 

“This is totally a growth, this is expediential, it’s unreal,” Nabors’ father Michael Nabors said. “It’s what brought her focus, it brought her right on line where she needed to be and sometimes we aren’t able to get there any other way, now she’s a totally different person.” 

Jessica Sniatecki Ph.D., the chair of the President’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) on Accessibility was responsible for bringing Nabors to the college. Sniatecki found Nabors through one of her former students. She considered Nabors to speak to one of her classes, but after hearing her story Sniatecki decided Nabors was better suited for a larger audience. 

“I hope a lot of the people in attendance leave here with a broader understanding of some of the barriers that people with disabilities face in our society and some of the ways in which they can work to address those barriers even if they don’t experience them,” Sniatecki said. 

Nabors’ story is like no other, proving that your life could take a dramatic turn at any moment. The way she copes with her impairment every day can be inspiring to all, proving anything is possible no matter the deck you’re dealt. 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

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