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October 06, 2000 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-10-06

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 6, 2000






Heidi Lengyat came tQ the University in the fall of 1994 with a
Lhronic pain syndrome that necessitated crutches and sometimes
a wheelchair. Whik at the University she has had to constantly
deal with hassles such as having to wait a semester for the
University to install automatic doors in certain buildingse

Jim Knox, coordinator of the Adaptive Technology Computing Site, demonstrates a
machine that enlarges the words in books to help visually impaired students read.


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engyal left the University for three
-yaSdue to her illness. She said that
because of the septic shock associated
with her disease, she was "unable to get
out of bed, let alone go to classes."
Lengyal returned to the University this
year permanently confined to a wheelchair.
"Some people are surprised when they
find out I go to the University of Michigan,"
Lengyal, an LSA junior, said.
Now she is trying to handle the typical
stresses of college life along with the diffi-
culties the of living with a disability.
Lengyal shares her struggle with 578
other University students who face the chal-
lenge of going to college with physical and
learning disabilities.
Academic challenges
"When it comes to students with disabili-
ties, we sometimes have to work two, three,
four or even 10 times harder," said Mike
Gonzales, a learning disabled student in both
the Medical School and School of Public
For Marketoe Day, a legally blind indi-
vidual who has been a University student
since 1991, said one of the hardest aspects
of attending class is accessing the materi-
als. Because of his disability, Day must
rely on recorded editions of his reading
from the Office of
Services for Students "People dc
with Disabilities.
The University what we ,g
invites student volun-
teers to record the for everyd
required readings. But
Day said the process is
not efficient if the
recording has not
already been made and is the reason he has
been here so long.
"Because of the difficulties in the reader
program, I don't have access to course mate-
rial," he said. "The core of success of higher
learning is being able to have efficient access
to reading material. Without it you can go
Now that the University has switched the
registration process to Wolverine Access,
students must select classes through the
Internet. Day says he can't even register for
classes on his own because of his visual

versity housing as well because he is in a
While living in South Quad last acade-
mic year, Larabee said he was once locked
in the residence hall's bathroom because
he couldn't pull the door open without it
hitting his wheelchair. Because the bath-
room did not have door activators, Larabee
said he had to call Department of Public
Safety after 20 minutes that no one came
in to let him out. Two weeks after the inci-
dent, Larabee said the door was equipped
with an activator.
Lengyal said that the University's build-
ings have affected how she coordinates her
"I have to pick classes based on proximi-
ty," she said.
university solutions
E. Royster Harper, vice president for stu-
dent affairs, said the University has made
improvements to make buildings more
accessible for the disabled community.
"We have come far from a struggling
community. The number of ramps and door
activators for bathrooms has increased,
among other things," Harper said.
Goodin said disabled students file about
20 complaints a year with the SSD and the
University Accessibility office.
"A lot of them deal


Kinesiology junior Carey Larabee may have a harder time
getting around campus than many students, but he said
the cerebral palsy that keeps him in a wheelchair has made
him "go the extra mile."

ont realize
o through
ay life "
-- Carey Larabee
Kinesiology junior

with little things, such
as doors, and inacces-
sible athletic facili-
ties," Goodin said.
The office deals with
these problems and
Goodin said they typi-
cally do respond with

that students with disabilities contribute to
the diversity of the University.
"We always talk about diversity, yet we
never talk about the disabled even though
they are just as important part of the com-
munity," she said.
Last year Arfa brought the idea to Pat
McCune, coordinator of Dialogues on Diver-
sity, which organizes programs to explore
the issue of diversity.
"I'm aware this is a community of people
who all have different experiences. (The
video) benefits people in general who want
to be more aware and take away stereo-
types," McCune said
McCune helped coordinate the students
who were represented in the video, trying to
include all types of disabilities. The video
served as an outlet for many students to
express their opinions about adverse treat-
ment on campus.
"This video was a reminder to push much
harder that for the privileges we take for
granted yet are crucial for disabled stu-
dents," Harper said.
She said she hopes the video will rally
new programs and resources for disabled
During a panel, which featured six people
involved with the film, many audience mem-
bers were moved to tears.
McCune said she has w4eiw Ig h m

But some problems are a lot harder to
Linda Hancock Green, communications
coordinator for M-Pathways, said Wolverine
Access could not have been made to accom-
modate all students with different disabili-
"It was not a possibility. It was a known
problem at the time," she said. "I don't think
there is a perfect system to go with all stu-
dents. I think the University is very focused
on making sure every student has the ser-
vices to succeed."

:uaents be more man accommo

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