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Content Any Way U Want It!

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Content Any Way U Want It!

BG Falcon Media

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Accessibility difficult during winter months

Spring’s official arrival Thursday brings us to the tail end of this torturous beast of a winter.

How did you fare in this snowy, icy, slushy, soggy first quarter of 2014? Were you able to navigate campus without much difficulty?

Since I have no mobility impairments, I made my way safely, albeit gingerly, around campus watching for the sidewalk equivalent of the black ice that challenges so many motorists.

The care with which I had to navigate as a pedestrian during the inclement weather made me realize how little I usually think about getting to and from rooms and offices on campus. If the elevator is not working in a building, I take the stairs. If a lake-sized puddle makes the sidewalk impassable, I slog through the wet grass and step down from the curb to the roadway to continue on my way.

However, were I in a wheelchair, this campus would soon become a challenge that might be worthy of reality TV competitions. How does one make it through the ponds of water that form so quickly when it rains?

Once in the buildings, how user-friendly are the classroom spaces? In the cafeterias and at the food court in the Union, is it easy enough to get where you want to be if you are using crutches or a wheelchair?

I know that the University is in compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Indeed, the University has an excellent Office of Disability Services. Students, staff and faculty alike appreciate their work.

Rather, my question is whether students, staff and faculty who have mobility challenges find the general environment here to be one that empowers them. That is, are the facilities and campus landscape designed in ways that a person can do for herself/himself without having to seek assistance?

I remember vividly an encounter I witnessed several years ago when the bookstore was in the Saddlemire Student Services Building, a building demolished to make way for the Wolfe Center for the Arts.

A student in a wheelchair was unable to navigate the aisles to get to a textbook he needed. When he complained to the staff, the person kindly let him know that she was happy to get the book for him. He thanked her, but then added, “Sometimes people like to do things for themselves.” So, how easy is it in 2014 for people to do things for themselves on campus?

I have every faith and confidence that our University strives to be a welcoming and accessible campus, so if you use assistance to get around, where do you find problems with access? And, if like me, you move around campus without assistance, what do you see that might be an impediment for others? I would be happy to collect your ideas over the next month and present them to the appropriate people. You can contact me at the address below.

Respond to Julie at

[email protected]

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