Editorial | Building momentum through a more accessible university
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 00:10
Miami may be “the most beautiful campus that ever there ever was,” according to Robert Frost, but architectural beauty does not always translate to accessibility. Especially for about 5 percent of the Miami University student body who has registered with the Office of Disability Resources.
Physical disabilities can limit one’s mobility, like cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia or musculoskeletal injuries (i.e. back injury). Other disabilities limit one’s stamina, like asthma, diabetes or cardiac conditions.
Disabilities such as hardness of hearing and visual impairment are also present on Miami’s campus.
The Editorial Board of the Miami Student has been given several positive reviews of the ODR. With the sad fact that buildings on campus cannot be completely updated to American Disability Association standards until 2020, there is a large group of individuals—students, staff, faculty and volunteers—who are working to bring as much accessibility and convenience as they can to students limited by their physical condition.
They are doing this in a few ways. First, the Armstrong Student Center (ASC) director is constructing the new student center with disabled Miami students in mind. Elevators will be prevalent and accessible at all levels. Restrooms will be outfitted with wheelchair-accessible showers and bathroom stalls. More handicapped parking spots will be allotted for those in need. Lastly, our favorite, hearing devices will be available in any room with auditory features, like the meeting rooms or theater.
The land ASC sits on was also closely surveyed to make sure entrances were “universally” accessible, unlike a lot of academic buildings on campus.
ASC aside, the ODR, through the Office of Equity & Equal Opportunity (OEEO), has partnered with Miami University Ambassadors for Students with Disabilities (MUASD) to bring a mentoring program to campus. According to the OEEO website, the “MU Ambassadors for Students with Disabilities Mentoring Program,” is new this semester and is still looking for mentors to jump on board with the program. This is a great advancement not only for the mentored, but the mentors as well. Students helping students overcome a disability is something the Editorial Board would like to recognize over and over again.
Also new this semester, as most may know already, are the Butler County Regional Transport Authority busses. Every bus is wheelchair accessible. And, according to the ODR, students who are not able to ride the BCRTA buses for any reason, “may be eligible for the BCRTA Paratransit Service,”—though the BCRTA website did not specify how these services worked.
A U.S. News and World Report states that there are 1.1 million physically disabled undergraduate college students in the U.S., comprising about 6 percent of all undergraduates in the nation. This statistic makes it clear that this issue is important and needs to be addressed on college campuses.
But seeing these improvements in just the past year alone—ASC, BCRTA and ODR initiatives—the Editorial Board realizes Miami is building toward the future, literally.
These improvements for our physically disabled peers could hopefully open up this campus to more handicapped students in the years to come.
In his 2013 annual address, President Hodge said, “Our common vision, our deep commitment, our hard work and our spirit are building momentum and a better university.”
We think the improvements noted above are doing just that.