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November 30, 1993 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-11-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 30, 1993

OBSTACLES
Continued from page 1
Richard utilizes his roommates,
other friends, volunteer readers and one
paid reader through the University's
Services for Students with Disabilities
office and other technology. He re-
cently acquired an Archenstone Per-
sonal Reader, whiciscans printed ma-
terial into his talking computer that can
then read it to him. But though effec-
tive, it's achingly slow.
Richard notes, though, that his use
of technology is less the norm than it is
the unusual. "Most studentsjust stickto
the reader system. I've found justto use
it all, to combine it all together."
One way Richard feels the Uni-
versity could become a friendlier en-
vironment for visually-impaired stu-
dents is revamping the reader service.
"There's always been complaints
about the reader system," he says.
"This year we have been trying to get
the University to switch to a central-
ized system similar to that of Michi-
gan State. What we would need for
this is about six or seven soundproof
rooms where readers could read onto
audio tape without distraction for two
or three hours and where visually-
impaired students can come in and
drop off their reading."
Then, Richard says, readers could
come to the center in a steady stream
during two-or three-hour time blocks,
eliminating the 'reader scheduling
game' - Richard's term for tedious
struggle of trying to match up read-
ers' schedules with those to whom
they will read.
Given the numerous rooms that sit
empty, Richard notes, it would seem
easy to get a reading center together.
But cutting through the
University's red tape is never easy.
"The University says once they fix
the UGLi then they'll move it in there
... But to wait two years?" Richard
asks. "That doesn't make any sense
when you've got plenty of rooms
around campus that aren't being used.
The problem seems to be with the
commitment."
He notes,"The Athletic Department
will spend millions of dollars on the
athletes here. Students with disabilities
are asking for this service and are re-
ceiving no decision. It really is a prob-
lem. The administration as a whole is
not willing to make a commitment to
students with disabilities. They are not
willing to say, 'Not only are we a great
institution, but we also care about you
and your success."'"
Another frustration Richard has
found on campus is the lack of adap-
tive computers. TheBarrierFree Com-
puter Users Group, of which Richard
is a member, has been advocating for
the University to get more adaptive
technology and has succeeded in in-
stituting an adaptive technology room
in the Undergraduate Library.

Still, he says, one room is not
enough.
"I'll go to Angell Hall and there
are rows and rows of computers and
not one of them is accessible to me. It
doesn't make any sense," he said.
"One thing the University brags
about when it is recruiting potential
students is that there are 30 or so
computing sites on campus. But there
are two sites out of all of them that
have adaptive computers. There are
three or four Braille computers there.
The unbelievable thing is that it takes
only $2,000 to make a computer ac-
cessible and adaptive to people with
disabilities. All we're asking is that
they take one computer at each com-
puting site and make that computer
adaptive and we still would have the
main site in the UGLi to do our more
involved work," he explains.
Richard will graduate in May, af-
ter four years here. But even after he
leaves, the problems visually impaired
students face on campus will remain.
Rick Bernstein is one of the students
who will have to face those problems.
Rick, an LSA sophomore, is also
legally blind. But his impairment,
which allows him to see slightly, has
not stopped him from taking classes
in the University's departmentof Film
and Video Studies.
Well-spoken and enthusiastic,
Rick shares that making his way
around campus is one of the biggest
obstacles he faces.
"The way I get around campus is
through memorization," he said. "In
order to get around I have to memo-
rize exactly where everything is. And,
I memorize the steps to key buildings.
The Union is three steps, base, three
steps, base, three steps, and then you're
in."
He adds that dealing with traffic
can sometimes be tricky.
"While crossing streets I don't see
the traffic signals, so I just have to
listen. My right ear picks up traffic in
one direction and my left ear picks up
traffic in the other direction," he noted.
And nightfall brings on its own
pitfalls.
"Getting around at night is a lot
trickier," this futurelawyer said. "Secu-
rity at night is an issue. A blind student
is unable to identify an assailant. And
that means that there is already reason-
able doubt. Anyone who's going to
accost or mug someone knows that a
blind person is the best target."
Rick doesn't like the conspicuous
nature of his cane. "That's what speci-
fies that you're a blind student," he
says. "And that's what makes you a
target, especially late at night."
Rick feels that, though going with-
out a cane is hard,it's worth the effort.
"It takes a lot of effort and a lot of
memorization to get along without
it," he confided, "but if I want to
achieve independence, I have to work
for it. To find the Union, for me, is a
whole adventure. For you, it's easy."

Democratic Unionist leader Rev. Ian Paisley MP speaks to the press yesterday. Paisley was ordered out of the House
accusing Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew of lying about secret government contacts with the IRA.

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