New student organization aims to educate and bring awareness to disabilities

The DEAL organization on campus was established in the fall semester of 2017.

Tandra Smith

The Disability Education for Awareness and Leadership (DEAL) organization, a relatively new student organization on Georgia Southern University’s campus, has two main goals: education and awareness.

“We all know there’s a lot of physical disabilities, like those who are in wheelchairs, but there are also disabilities that affect us mentally and cognitively and everything else like that,” Michael Tiller, president of the DEAL organization, said. “This club is to help raise awareness for those particular disabilities and help others become advocates someday.”

Tiller is a transfer student from the University of North Georgia, Gainsville campus. There was a DEAL organization at his former school, and when he found out that there wasn’t one at GS, he sought to create one.

“There’s got to be something that can help others, because if not everybody is up on the disabilities then there’s going to be no awareness,” Tiller said. “That’s what prompted me to get something like [DEAL] started here.”

DEAL organization meetings include discussions about various disabilities that affect them personally. They’ve already discussed autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Obsessive Compulsion Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The long-term goals for DEAL include having more meetings, better scheduling and more members. Tiller believes that DEAL is a different organization than one might think because they focus on the disability and the individual, rather than the club’s own awarenesses and what they’d like to do.

The meeting dates and times for the DEAL organization are currently not set due to Tiller’s new schedule this semester. However, Tiller still wants DEAL to be an organization in which all people feel welcome.

“Disabilities, even though they affect us, that doesn’t make us not a human being,” he said. “We’re just different from one another. We’re wired differently. We can look different, but that shouldn’t change who we are as a person.”