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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Empwr

Who is organizing the 2022 Empwr conference?

The conference is hosted by the Carolina Disability Alliance (CDA). CDA is based at UNC Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business school, and is run by a group of MBA student self-advocates and allies. CDA's goal is to support disabled business students and promote the widespread empowerment of disabled people in the professional world. You can contact us by emailing

Who can attend the conference?

The conference is being launched in an effort to benefit business students (graduate and undergraduate) who belong to the disability community. However, we welcome business student allies to join us! Plus, there's a separate registration process for employers and company representatives who would like to recruit at Empwr. There will be breakout programming geared towards self-advocates, allies, and employers.

What does is cost to attend Empwr?

It depends on the answers to a few other questions: Would you like to attend in-person or virtually? Do you need to reserve nights at the conference hotel? Are you a current MBA student, a current non-MBA student, a recent graduate, an employer representative, or a conference speaker? Are you a disability self-advocate or a disability community ally?

Registration is heavily subsidized for all student participants, with additional hotel room discounts for students who belong to the disability community. A disabled MBA student who registers to attend the full conference in-person and stays two nights at the conference hotel will pay only $135 - compared to an employer representative, who will owe the entirely unsubsidized amount of $600 for the same conference access and two hotel nights. An MBA student who is a disability ally will owe $185 for full conference access and two hotel nights.

Registration is also designed to allow you to build the attendance package you can afford - for example, you can add anywhere from zero to three nights at the hotel, depending on your accommodation preferences. Plus, virtual-only attendance of the full conference is available to current MBA students for only $12.

What if I need accommodations to attend in-person?

We are excited to facilitate your participation as fully as possible! Just indicate when you register that you have a specific accessibility need and describe how we can accommodate you in a couple of sentences. We will then reach out individually pre-conference to confirm that we are able to provide the proper supports.

Questions About Disability

Defining Disability

What counts as "disability"? How is it defined?

Disability is defined by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. In other words, any difference of the brain or body which makes life more challenging in a significant way is a disability

Many in the disability community have adopted a four-category framework to better convey what disability encapsulates. While this framework isn't perfect - some conditions fit in multiple categories, and a few don't neatly fall in any bucket - it is helpful! Those four major types of disability are Physical Disability, Chronic Illness, Neurodivergence, and Mental Illness.

  • Any impactful physical difference which affects physical interaction with one's environment 

  • Usually (but not always) visible to others

  • FOR EXAMPLE: Mobility & Motor Impairments, Limb Differences, Deafness, Blindness, Dwarfism, Epilepsy

Physical Disability

Chronic Illness

  • Any physical health condition lasting one year or more which requires ongoing medical support

  • Usually invisible to others

  • FOR EXAMPLE: Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Lupus, COPD, Crohn’s Disease, Diabetes, Migraines


  • Any neurological difference with a consistent trait-based expression (generally impacts information processing) 

  • Usually invisible to others

  • FOR EXAMPLE: Learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, Intellectual Disability

Mental Illness

  • Any mental health condition which primarily alters thinking, behavior, and/or mood

  • Usually invisible to others

  • FOR EXAMPLE: Chronic Depression, Anxiety Disorders (OCD, PTSD), Eating Disorders, Addiction

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