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2023 Keynote Speaker

Disabusing Disability: Demonstrating That Disability Doesn't Mean Inability With Outside of the Box Thinking

Date: Monday, July 24, 2023 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Abstract: Disability is regularly neglected in conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, yet it is the one demographic that we may all identify with one day. Therefore, disability should serve as a means of demonstrating that we are all much more similar than we are different. As a disabled, black, Nigerian, immigrant, cis-gender heterosexual, male, physician, athlete this presentation will talk about the intersectionality between all of those identities, striving to demonstrate that disability is not inability, and encouraging us to allow people to demonstrate what they can do, rather than attempting to limit them based on what they can’t. It will also hope to engage you all in an "outside of the box" dialogue about what each of us can do within our own spheres of influence to make sure we are not perpetuating ableism in our personal or professional lives or the work that we do on a daily basis.

Learning Objectives:

  • Have expanded their definition of what "Diversity" can mean. 
  • Be able to acknowledge their own implicit biases when it comes to diversity (regarding disability, race, etc..)
  • Learn how certain places are advocating to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Leave with the understanding that disability doesn't necessarily mean inability, and with the desire to disseminate that knowledge throughout their respective professions and work

Headshot of Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami. Dr. Okanlami has dark hair and is wearing dark, thick-rimmed glasses. Dr. Okanlami is smiling in the photo.

Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami

Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami is the Director of Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services at the University of Michigan, where he oversees the office of Services for Students with Disabilities, two Testing Accommodation Centers, and the Adaptive Sports & Fitness Program. He is also an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Urology at Michigan Medicine, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“Dr. O” was born in Nigeria before immigrating to the US at a young age. He attended High School at Deerfield Academy and college at Stanford University where he also ran Track & Field, serving as captain his last two seasons and achieving Academic All American recognition. 

He then earned his MD from the University of Michigan before matching into Orthopedic Surgery at Yale. At the beginning of his 3rd year he experienced a spinal cord injury, paralyzing him from the chest down. After two surgeries and intense rehabilitation, he was blessed with some return of motor function, and  navigates the world as a proud wheelchair user, managing the other long term sequelae of an incomplete cervical spinal cord injury. 

He went on to earn a Master’s in Engineering, Science, and Technology Entrepreneurship from The University of Notre Dame, and completed his Family Medicine Residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. He served on the St. Joseph County Board of Health, appointed by then Mayor, now current Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg; and is on the board of the River City Challenged Athletes, a non-profit supporting the area adaptive sports teams. He was featured on Robin Robert’s Good Morning America Series “Thriver Thursday,” and has a catch phrase, “Disabusing Disability,” hoping to demonstrate that DISability doesn’t mean INability. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Society,  received Michigan Medicine’s Distinguished Early Career Alumni Award in 2020, and was given the “A Teacher’s Teacher Award'' by the Academy of Medical Educators.

Nationally, he serves as the Disability Issues representative on the Steering Committee for the Group on Diversity and Inclusion at the Association of American Medical Colleges, sits on the National Medical Association’s Council on Medical Legislation, and was invited by the White House Office of Public Engagement to participate in the Health Equity Leaders Roundtable Series dedicated to exploring perspectives around Access to Care. He was appointed to the America250 Foundation Health and Wellness Advisory Council and speaks around the country on topics related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including, but not limited to creating a health system that is accessible to and inclusive of both patients and providers with disabilities, and providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities in higher education. He has been featured on CBS News, PBS News Hour, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and is passionate about adaptive sports and fitness, striving to provide access to physical fitness and inclusive recreational and competitive sports for all. "