On Oct. 19, 2018, Virginia Tech’s ADA and Accessibility Services hosted an event where Hokies and members of the Blacksburg community were able to learn about key issues regarding disability employment, while honoring the success of American workers with disabilities. This event takes place each October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

This year, animals played a significant role in the success of the event, allowing attendees to get a firsthand experience with disability resources.

Saint Francis Service Dogs representative Lisa Caldwell attended with her own Saint Francis “career change” dog, to explain how dogs are trained to provide assistance to their disabled owners. Saint Francis is the largest service dog organization in Virginia, commended for pairing people living with a wide range of disabilities with their very own canine helper.

Likewise, Shelby Ryan, Amy Wilhelm, and Cara Hite from Equilibrium Equine Assisted Therapies brought in horses to showcase the benefits of equine-assisted therapy. Their program offers many helpful services including equine assisted learning and equine assisted psychotherapy. Guests were able to interact with the horses at the event, demonstrating the company’s mission to provide quality personal growth experiences through interactions with the animals.