Renovations a pain for the disabled@18m:Mobil

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    By BRETT SWIGER

    It’s hard enough to get around campus during renovations on foot, but it can be even more challenging in a wheelchair.

    There are over 500 students with disabilities on campus — about 50 use wheelchairs.

    “They see the needs for renovation and realize that they’re not the only ones impacted by the construction, but everyone is impacted,” said Rochelle Rabe, who is a graduate student with a disability and an advisor for students with mobility impairments in the Services for Students with Disabilities office.

    “Students with disabilities, however, need to be informed of changes in accessibility on campus,” Rabe said.

    Services for Students with Disabilities is a campus office of the Counseling & Development Center that provides students with information and assistance regarding accessibility or any other issues involving a disability.

    With all of the changes and restricted accessibility caused by construction, SSD has taken an active role to inform students with mobility impairments. Meetings to discuss accessibility on campus are regularly held, with invitations to all students affected.

    Posters, signs on doors and flyers are circulated throughout campus to make accessibility more easy for students in wheelchairs or others who are otherwise mobility-impaired.

    “Renovations affect students with disabilities other than just those who are in wheelchairs, such as those who are visually impaired or are deaf,” Rabe said.

    For example, campus planners have to take into consideration such things as building emergency evacuation alarms that include strobe lighting for deaf students or others with hearing impairments.

    All buildings on campus are accessible for students with disabilities, with buttons that automatically open doors.

    “Campus officials have been very responsive to the issues and needs of students with disabilities. They really have been outstanding. They have met with SSD and students to look at renovation plans, ensuring that accessibility issues are considered,” said Julie Preece, coordinator for Services for Students with Physical Disabilities.

    Students who encounter someone with a mobility impairment are advised that the best way to help out when approaching a door is to ask the student with a disability if they would like them to open the door for them.

    “We can do it for ourselves, but it’s nice when others ask if they can open the door for us,” said one student who has a mobility impairment.

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