Wheelchairs, walkers increase Accessibility

By Sarah Ruan


  Administrators and student leaders tried to get around campus using wheelchairs and walkers Nov. 4 in the Freedom Challenge cosponsored by advocacy groups for students with disabilities.

  The challenge event was cosponsored by Walk, Roll and Read, a student organization, and Project M.E.N.D (Medical Equipment Network For Those With Disabilities) to promote awareness of the difference technology can make for people with disabilities.

  “(Freedom Challenge is) a term I came up with to symbolize the fact that assistance of technology allows people with disabilities to do things that they can’t do otherwise,” said Rachel Cywinski, a graduate student who serves as president of Walk, Roll and Read student organization.

  “We started this event in 2008 because we felt that it was beneficial to get administrators and student leaders together so that they could share the perspective of students with disabilities and see what it’s like on the campus, and also for them to see what a great difference assistance of technology makes if you have access,” Cywinski said.

  Eight groups, each with one administrator and one student leader, went to different places on campus to experience various hardships for students with disabilities.

 “I guess you just never think about that little thing in the bottom,” Honors Program student Mollmichelle Cabledue said when she was having a hard time going through the pathway to Genevieve Tarleton Dougherty Fine Arts Building in a wheelchair.

 Dell M. Davis, head of public service for J.E. and L.E. Mabee Library, tried to use a walker there. She said this challenge gave her greater awareness concerning a lot of things that need to change.

  Davis said she plans to talk with Dr. Cheryl Anderson, dean of library services, about some of the recommendations, such as “the small things like table height, door openers and all types of things to make accessibility possible for our students with disabilities.”

  There could be adjustable tables for persons in wheelchairs, Davis said.

  “We don’t have enough money to buy a lot of things, but we can put them on our waiting list,” Davis said. “We are aware of things, and after we are aware of them, we definitely put them on the list to pursue them so that we won’t have those barriers.

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