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From the Daily: Enabling the disabled

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published April 4, 2013

Students can pick from countless extracurricular activities at the University. With intramural sports, student organizations and Greek Life, there are plenty of ways to stay active outside of the classroom. However, things aren’t as easy for students with disabilities. They may find themselves barred from the IM sports teams or unable to access some lecture halls across campus. While Services for Students with Disabilities has made great strides in providing students with disabilities the proper academic help, University leaders can’t ignore these issues and must continue to strive to build a community that’s accepting and accessible to all students.

The Services for Students with Disabilities office serves the 4 percent of students who have some sort of disability. They assist students by providing note-taking services and various electronic services that can aid in academics. While these measures are certainly helpful, they don’t guarantee the inclusive environment within lecture halls and classrooms that leads to an effective learning experience.

Some newer buildings such as the Ross School of Business may prove accessible for students with physical handicaps; however, all University lecture halls and buildings should be equally accessible. And in those that are accessible, students with disabilities are often forced to sit in the back of the room — away from the rest of the students. Furthermore, the jam-packed lecture halls of the Chemistry Building and Natural Science Building aren’t only poorly accessible, but overcrowded and congested as well. These issues do not only affect students with disabilities, but the classroom experience as well.

Students with disabilities should have more opportunities to get involved on campus. For example, the University’s Department of Recreational Sports needs to work to include these students on their IM sports teams by creating leagues in which everyone can get involved — much like a co-ed league. Also, there could be leagues devoted to students with disabilities. The University of Illinois and Ohio State University, among other colleges, already have competitive wheelchair sports teams of their own. The University needs to be an active partner to disabled Wolverines and implement a similar league here.

More often than not, disability awareness goes unnoticed on campus. Students and faculty aren’t aware of the issues students with disabilities face on a daily basis and the stigmas often associated with such identities. As a University that stands to promote diversity, acceptance and open-mindedness, the administration needs to play a larger role in ensuring that all students are able to engage in the extracurricular activities offered through our University, as well as create an accessible and accepting environment for the entire student body.


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