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December 03, 1993 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-03

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

The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 3, 1993-- 3

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES 1
In addition to exams, term papers and CRISP, these students face the daily challenge of

making the University
"I know that the first thing that
goes through their minds when
(my professors) look at me is,
'Oh my gosh, how am I going to
deal with this? This is new to
me.' That's something that
doesn't have to happen If the
*University educates the profes-
sors about the basics ahead of
time."
- Richard Clay -
visually impaired student
ithin the next week, a freshly
inted copy of the University's
first Services for Students with
_0 U W Disabilities(SSD) 'Faculty Hand-
book' will arrive in the mailbox of every
faculty member on staff at the 'U.'
And when that happens, a smile is sure to
shine on Rick Bernstein's face. And on Susan
Purdy's. And on Christine Anthony's. And on
Sarah Ginsburg's. And on the faces of the rest
of those students who shared their struggles
with the Daily this past week. And on the
faces of all of those whose voices will be
hard in other places at other times.
WThese smiles will emerge because the cre-
ation and execution of a handbook by SSD is
one more step through the obstacle course
these students have been overcoming, each in
his or her own way, while striving for disabil-
ity awareness since arriving on this campus.
Being a student with a disability on this
campus is hard. Students have long wrestled
with the prospect of educating each professor
Sey have to their specific needs year in and
ar out. And now, with concentrated time
and effort, SSD has knocked down one of the
highest hurdles by providing what Richard
considers to be basic education.
Sam Goodin, director of SSD, recognized
the many concerns that students with disabili-
ties have, but indicated that change is some-
times slow in coming.
To speed these changes students with dis-
abilities see the need for improved funding for
SD and expanded educational programming
or the non-disabled University community.
OVERCOMING T HE
BIGG EST OBSTACLE
with the Daily this week agreed that
T he students with disabilities who spoke
SSD does a more-than sufficient
job addressing their needs. Readers
Oe made available for visually impaired stu-
dents. The option of having oral interpreters
in large lecture classes is given to hearing
impaired students. A paratransit transportation
system allows mobility-impaired students to
travel around campus. And students with learn-
ing disabilities are assisted in obtaining alterna-

accessible to them and of raising others' awareness of their needs.

LSA junior Susan Purdy makes her way up the ramp to the Graduate Library. The ramp makes it easier for students like Purdy to
go places they need to go, but, "accessibility on campus has a long way to go," she said. Purdy serves on the Affirmative

Action Office's Accessibility Task Force of the

Council for Disability Concerns.

tive exam formats.
Indeed, all of the students expressed appre-
ciation for the efforts made by SSD to help
make their lives run more smoothly.
But the one thing the campus still lacks is
a method for educating professors.
The faculty handbook is the University's
attempt at leaping the education hurdle,
Goodin said. A sister publication, a student
handbook, has also been in the works, for
some time.
"I've had one similar to this on every
college campus I've worked in," Goodin re-
marked. "It's a useful tool. There htad been a
lot of discussion before I got here. It was a
matter of finding the time and getting it done."
He noted that educating faculty and staff
regarding the needs of students with disabilities
is something SSD takes very seriously.
"That's been an ongoing concern," he
said. "There are a number of different ways to
approach it."
In addition to the handbooks, SSD also
created a faculty awareness videotape. The
videotape, which consists of faculty members
and students discussing needs of those with
disabilities, will be sent out to the University's
3D list --a list of department chairs and others
who can make the handbook accessible to the
University's larger community of faculty and

staff.
Sarah, a first-year Law student who has a
learning disability, has also made her hand-
book for students with learning disabilities
available to the University community through
SSD, a practice she hopes will spread to other
college campuses throughout the nation.
With these instructional tools in place, the
education of 'able-bodied' members of the
University, both faculty and students, may be
more easily achieved.
n his comments to the Daily, Richard also
expressed frustration over the current
reader system the campus uses, sug-
gesting that the University adopt a cen-
tralized system like that in use at Michigan
State University (MSU).
Visually impaired students at MSU have a
reading center where readers dictate texts onto
tape in soundproof booths. This eliminates the
scheduling conflicts between readers and
readees.
SSD is not adverse to the system at MSU,
Goodin said.
"There are some advantages to that sys-
tem.... There are a variety of different models
for providing the reader service," he added.
SSD is exploring the possibility of creating a
similar system here.
"We've talked to some people in housing
and discussed the possibility of getting a cen-
ter together," he explained.
"When you start talking about having to
build carols and perhaps adding staff members
... I don't know when we'll have the money.
But I don't think it's a sort of 'pie in the sky'
thing. I think it's something we'll get done," he
said.
Another concern shared by almost all of the
students who spoke with the Daily is the avail-
ability of adaptive computing technology. Ri-
chard noted that of the 30 or so computing sites
on campus only two have computers that are
adaptable to visually-impaired students.
But that obstacle will soon be overcome,
said Jim Knox, adaptive technology coordi-
nator.
With the help of ITD, Knox is creating a
server onto which adaptive computing pro-
grams can be placed.
This will consequently allow any student
who needs the programs to access them from
any University computer, making that com-
puter instantly accessible to most students -
even the visually impaired.

BUiLDINGS AND
S usan, a mobility-impaired student,
expressed a number of concerns in
her comments to the
Daily - the most urgent of those is
frustration at the lack of accessibility she per-
ceives around campus in both buildings and
bathrooms.
Goodin notes that
the ADA applies only
to newly-constructed
buildings and to those
undergoing renova-
tions. "But that doesn't
mean that the Univer-
sity should not do
things to alter existing
buildings that aren't ac-
cessible," he said.
In response to
Susan's concern about
the inaccessibility of
bathroom stalls,
Goodin said that he
would have to be ap-
praised of particular
cases in order to know
how readily alterations
for easy accessibilityI
could be made.
"For instance, ifit'ss
a case of a door open-
ing into the stall, that
could easily be
changed. But other_
cases may not be easy to alter without major
structural changes," he explained.
He noted that the University has ongoing
efforts to increase accessibility. "All of the
construction going on around campuswillbring
things up to code," he added.
In his comments, Richard mentioned that
while he appreciates the efforts SSD makes to
accommodate all of the needs students with
disabilities have, he would like to see the office
expand, perhaps with another office on North
Campus. Goodin said that while he, too, would
like to see the office grow, the economics of the
situation may not allow for such expansion in
the midst of other changes the office wants to
make.
"You prioritize things that you would like to
see done," Goodin said. "Things like the reader
service. If we need to hire additional staff, I'd
prefer to have that staff member than to expand
into another office."

y Michele Hatty
PROGRESS, SLOWLY
BUT SURELY
hristine, a hearing-impaired student,
relayed her satisfaction with the
way in which resources have been
offered to her since she arrived at
the University. So, too, did Sarah.
While their needs are different from one
another, they both have a common wish: To
make faculty and fel-
low students aware
that although they
have disabilities, they
are students first, and
people foremost. Yes,
they need compensa-
tion for their disabili-
ties. They may need
to do things differ-
ently, tolearnthrough
alternate methods, but
giventhe opportunity,
they will succeed.
As these students
by strive to overcome
these obstacles, the
University -outside
4 {s of SSD - is also at-
%: E Wytempting to match
their efforts, playing
a role in increasing
awareness of the
needsofstudents with
disabilities.
At the end of July,
on the ADA's third
anniversary, Vice President of Student Affairs
Maureen Hartford and Provost and Executive
Vice President of Academic Affairs Gilbert
Whitaker released a memo to all faculty and
staff providing a brief overview of the needs of
students with different types of disabilities as
well as suggestions on how to address those
concerns.
Goodin said that efforts such as these will
slowly but surely increase awareness, and
will help to foster communication between
the faculty community and the faction of
students who overcome obstacles every day.
Left photo: First-year Law student
Sarah Ginsburg in the Law Quad.
Above: First-year engineering student
Christine Anthony sits on the Diag.
Graphics by Kimberly Albert
and Jennifer Angeles
Photos by Anastasia Banicki

LEARNING DISABILITIES

VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS
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