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USI to honor Disability Awareness Month with presentation by blind paralympic swimmer in addition to movie screening

February 14, 2024

The University of Southern Indiana Disability Resources Office, in collaboration with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Coordinator) Office, is proud to welcome Tucker Dupree, Paralympic Swimmer, to campus in recognition of Disability Awareness Month. Dupree will present from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, March 21 in Carter Hall, located in University Center West on campus. A meet and greet will follow from 7-7:30 p.m. and will also be in Carter Hall. The presentation is open to the public at no charge. 

In 2004, Dupree initiated his journey into swimming, later venturing into para-swimming in 2007 at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina. His introduction to the sport occurred during his attendance at his older sister's swimming practices. Encouraged by her coach, Dupree decided to immerse himself in the pool and explore the sport firsthand. 

In October 2006, he faced the diagnosis of Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, resulting in a gradual loss of most of his eyesight over the subsequent six months. Despite this challenge, Dupree has demonstrated remarkable perseverance and dedication to his athletic pursuits. 

Currently, he follows a rigorous training regimen, dedicating three and a half hours daily to pool training and an additional two hours to gym workouts. Dupree’s commitment and achievements in para-swimming were acknowledged when he received the 2011 Roger McCarville Male Athlete of the Year Award from the Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was honored with the Greater Raleigh Sports Council Courage of Character Award. 

In addition to the presentation, USI Disability Resources, in collaboration with Optimal Access, Inc., will also host a film screening of SPELLERS at 1 p.m. Monday, March 11 in Carter Hall. The screening is free, but donations are being accepted to Optimal Access, Inc.

Inspired by the book Underestimated, the new full-length documentary challenges conventional wisdom regarding a group relegated to society’s margins—non-speakers with autism who most experts believe are cognitively disabled. As the film opening asks, “What if we’ve been wrong …about every single one of them?” SPELLERS answers that question in convincing fashion through the stories of eight non-speakers—Aydan, Evan, Sid, Maddie, Jamie, Vince, Cade, and Elizabeth—who all found their voice through the miraculous process of using a letterboard to communicate their thoughts and feelings.

Founded in Evansville, Indiana, in 2014, Optimal Access, Inc., seeks to bring hope to neurodiverse nonspeaking children and adults who are underserved and underestimated. Optimal Access utilizes Neurologic Music Therapy, a researched based support approach with music and rhythm to change the way the brain functions. It offers many programs including Access Academy, Access2Academics, Can-Do Camp and Rethinking Autism Conference.    

For questions or to request event-related accommodations for either/both events, contact Kirk at or 812-464-1998.  

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