The 27th annual Disability Awareness Week is underway at Hope College.

The week is highlighting the personal stories of those affected by disabilities, with presentations including a keynote address by 1996 Hope graduate Chris Klein, who was born with cerebral palsy and has traveled around the country speaking about his experiences, and a panel discussion featuring family members of someone with a disability.

The public is invited to attend all of the events.  Admission is free.

Disability Awareness Week will begin in the morning on Monday, April 7, with a wheelchair challenge that will have invited members of the college’s student body, faculty and staff undergo a mobility impairment simulation for six, 12 or 24 hours.

On Tuesday, April 8, visitors will be able to simulate a variety of disabilities, including mobility impairment, hearing impairment, vision impairment and learning disabilities, as well as have an opportunity to gather information about a number of hidden disabilities.  The simulations will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main-floor lounge of the DeWitt Center.

The week’s keynote event will feature speaker Chris Klein of Holland on Wednesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication.

Klein, who studied at Western Theological Seminary after graduating from Hope, uses assistive technology to communicate and is president of The United States Society of Augmentative Alternative Communication (USSAAC).  As a public speaker he has presented at churches, conferences, retreats and schools around the country.  He has also written a book, “Lessons from the Big Toe.”

Family members of those with disabilities will participate in the panel discussion “Disabilities Affecting Families” on Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.  The discussion will include experiences of parents, a child, a sibling and a spouse of someone with a disability.

On Thursday, April 10, at 9 p.m., a descriptive video version of the film “The Princess and the Frog” will be shown in the main-floor lounge of the DeWitt Center.  The video, designed for audiences with vision impairments, includes audio description of action on screen.

The week will close with an ice cream social on Friday, April 11, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the DeWitt Center Kletz.

The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.  Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.  The Martha Miller Center for Global Communication is located at 257 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 10th Street.