Getting across campus in 10 minutes is no problem for most students, but for students with disabilities, getting around campus can be a struggle.
Students have experienced what it is like to be physically disabled by participating in different challenges for Accessibility Awareness Week. There were different challenges assigned to students to give them an actual experience with a disability. Students assumed the role for part of the day and then returned to the University Accessibility Center to watch a 20-minute video and receive a free T-shirt.
“We aren’t trying to say that by assuming a role, you know what it’s like to have a disability,” Ron Jones, assistant director of student leadership, said. “These challenges were meant to make students more empathetic.”
Cassie Johnson, the student lead for the event, anticipated a large turnout for the challenges.
“Hopefully it gives people a better idea of what it’s like to have a disability,” Johnson said. “People can appreciate how accommodating our campus is.”
Megan Noack, a communications major from Tacoma, Wash., had a friend take on her disability during the week.
“My disability is that I only have one eye,” Noack said. “I ran into him and he was wearing an eye patch and said, ‘This is so hard.’ I don’t understand what it’s like to have two eyes working together, so I guess that’d be a challenge for him.”
Noack was pleased that this week helped students understand what others have to go through everyday.
“The challenges create a sense of empathy in students who don’t have a disability so they can understand in a small measure what it’s like for students who do,” Noack said.
There are around 850 students on campus with disabilities. For those students, the University Accessibility Center is available in 2170 WSC.
Accessibility Awareness Week was sponsored by the University Accessibility Center but was brainstormed by students. A booth in the Wilkinson Student Center handed out the challenges and was run by volunteers.