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New ASU annual lecture focusing on disability awareness honors professor's parents

Arizona State University’s Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics is rolling out a new annual lecture series with a focus on disability awareness, starting in fall 2024.

ASU associate professor Sarah Bolmarcich said the roughly six-and-a-half months of work to bring her proposal for the lecture to life was a community effort.

“I think people with disabilities want to have a venue like this to express themselves, to see themselves represented,” Bolmarcich said.

The lecture is named after her parents: Lawrence J. and Virginia Devlin Bomarcich.

Her mother had inherited hearing loss, and her father understood her more than most other hearing people.

“My mother was a successful radiologist in Philadelphia,” Bolmarcich said.

And as far as her father, he was “easily the most supportive person I’ve met who didn’t have a disability.”

And so, she said, they made a great team. While they weren’t activists in a traditional sense, Bolmarcich said they shared the same sense of justice.

She said she hopes the lecture will honor them, and bring more understanding of a wide variety of disabilities.

“It won’t always necessarily feel okay, but I want people to know at root, it’s okay to have that disability and to express your needs," Bolmarcich said.

Statement from Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics Director Gaymon Bennett: 

“The Lincoln Center is honored to play such a key role in helping facilitate Dr. Bolmarcich’s generous gift to the university. It is hard to overstate the value of what Dr. Bolmarcich has offered to all of us: questions of disability and disability justice – of whose bodies and minds get to count in our collective consideration of how the world looks, feels and works – matter profoundly and should be front of mind at ASU, where the design of our collective future is such a point of emphasis. We live so much of our lives in built environments. Because of that, as our friends in disability scholarship remind us, any one of us can experience a misfit between who we are and who our environments demand that we be, often with profound consequences. By promoting awareness of disability and positive disability culture, this memorial lecture will allow us to take significant steps forward in the lived experience of disability at ASU.”

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.