Accessibility around Wayne State’s campus is not something many might think about daily. However, students who rely on wheelchairs and walkers, or cannot use the stairs, can experience constant struggles.
“It’s very important that we take a proactive approach to addressing the needs on campus so that we are an accessible university, and I am very pleased to say that when we are, we have addressed a number of needs so that we do have an accessible university,” Student Disability Services Director Randie Kruman said.
SDS is a resource for students with both physical or invisible disabilities. It issued 853 accommodations to students with disabilities in the last academic year, according to its website. SDS actively helps students with physical, mental, vision and hearing disabilities.
SDS partnered with the Office of Equal Opportunity to support The Americans with Disabilities Act, which gives civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities, per its website. The act guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation and government services.
Buildings on campus like Old Main were built long before the ADA took effect and often times without consideration for students with disabilities.
Ed Roberts, one of the founders of the ADA, designed it with college campuses in mind, said James Cherney, a professor in the Communication Department at WSU.
“The entire modern disability rights movement came out of somebody whose basic place was to get into an education system, to get into a school and to get into a college university. That’s why it’s so important to a diverse city because that’s really where we’re going to have the biggest impact,” he said.
Students should alert WSU Public Safety in the event of a broken elevator so the issue can be reported.
“We consider ourselves one of the watchdogs because it’s very important and so if we feel there’s a problem, we’ll contact people in facilities and management,” Kruman said.
Public Safety is also prepared to assist university members during emergency situations, he said.
“If it’s an emergency, as in the case of a fire, they have special evacuation chairs and they actually have them practice their maneuvers, if you will, to get individuals down. They are not going to try to carry you and your chair,” Kruman said.
There are concerns when it comes to snowfall and winter weather, and getting across campus can be a troublesome experience for some. SDS offers referrals to students to request a removal of barriers, such as snow, according to the website.
The university does its best to provide an accommodating experience for all its students, even though no laws force it to remove barriers, according to the website.
“There’s more to access then being able to get in the door. If you want to become part of the workforce, people who are not disabled are going to learn about disability and diversity from the people who [have] disabilities,” Cherney said. "Accessibility is more then it states; it’s about diversity and opening doors to all who may want to join and sharing each other’s outlooks on different situations."