Disability Awareness


Have you ever noticed that several of the residence halls on the SDSU campus have no ground-level entry?

Has it ever struck you as odd that the only way into the Nursing/Fine Arts Building that doesn’t require steps is through the breezeway between it and the rotunda, or that once inside thebuilding an intimidating-looking elevator that looks like it was designed to haul freight is the only way off the ground floor without taking to the stair wells?

If not, don’t feel too bad. You’re certainly not alone. In fact, without the use of a Students’ Association initiative this past week, we expect many of the SA’s senators wouldn’t have noticed either.

However, in the spirit of “walking a mile in another person’s shoes,” the SA encouraged its members to spend half a day in a wheelchair to help them experience first hand the challenges that face SDSU students, workers and visitors.

And while it’s impossible to claim that every last senator took the worthwhile initiative for what it was intended (there is ever so fine a line between experiencing life from a different perspective and using wheelchairs to pop wheelies and race down hallways, guys), we feel the overall lessons the program taught were valid ones:

4Not every structure on this campus is perfectly suited to the needs of people in wheelchairs. This is not to say that University officials aren’t working on this fact, but there is certainly room for improvement.

4While using a wheelchair may pose certain challenges, it shouldn’t make an SA senator or a professor or a first-year student any less capable of getting the most out of their SDSU experience than their counterparts that walk around campus. It also doesn’t give them any less right to expect that worthwhile experience.

4There are students on this campus, many of them, who spend significantly more than half a day in a wheelchair, and they are just as much a part of the SA’s constituency and the SDSU student body as any other student on campus.

Now, the key for the SA and for the University as a whole is to take away from this experience more than just a broadened view of disability. The week’s program was clearly a step in the right direction, but senators and officials need to continue working closely with the Office of Disability Services and its coordinator, Nancy Schade, to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities, whether they be wheelchair-accessible classrooms or accomodations for vision or hearing impairments or learning disabilities, are met.

Last week may have been Disability Awareness Week on campus, but that awareness needs to be a continuous consideration to have its full impact.

Send comments and thoughts to [email protected]