During the first week of classes, an employee noticed a disoriented sight-impaired student around the ADUC construction. This employee’s involvement resulted in the student being swiftly transported by yet another individual to the
Office of Disability Services
where he received further assistance.
This is a positive story of the University community pulling together to help a lost freshman on his first day of school. It is also a reminder that actively supporting the accessibility of our campus rightfully belongs to each of us.
The majority of visually impaired students are proactive toward contact with our Disability Services office, as well as receiving an Orientation & Mobility training on campus by a specialist. However, in this unprepared student’s case a gap occurred from the time he arrived until that employee delivered him to Disability Services. The gap could have resulted in a very negative outcome for the student and the University.
Faculty, staff and students can help fill this gap. Three potential solutions appear below.
Filing the Gap #1: Offer Assistance
Take the following steps if you notice someone stopped in the middle of the sidewalk or looking otherwise disoriented, especially anyone with a white cane or who appears to be sensory impaired:
1. Ask if they need assistance.
2. If they say yes, offer to guide them to their destination.
- The person will usually extend their free hand.
- Touch the back of your hand to the back of their hand.
- The person needing assistance will then slide their hand up and take the guide’s arm at the elbow.
- The guide should walk one step ahead of the person they are assisting.
Most sight-impaired individuals receive training on how to use a sighted guide. They typically know how to read movements and changes in the guide’s direction. It may be helpful, however, to give prompts such as “there are five steps going up in approximately five feet.”
Filling the Gap #2: Report Hazards & Barriers
For a person who is blind, every new environment will be unavoidably challenging to some degree. Currently, our campus is extraordinarily difficult to navigate without sight due to construction noise and changing pedestrian traffic patterns.
Faculty, staff, and student can help fill the gap by noting hazards and barriers and immediately reporting them to:
This mindset would reduce potential risks while fostering a more welcoming campus environment. The accessibility of the University’s programs, activities, services, and the campus itself for all students and visitors would become everyone’s goal.
Filling the Gap #3: Attend an ADA Task Force Meeting
Office for Disability Services
convenes the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Task Force on campus. There are two meetings per semester and they are open to the public.
Consider attending. You could listen, learn, and join the conversation.
For more information contact:
Room 109-J, Enrollment Services Center