|Special Education Majors Apply Knowledge to Campus Accessibility Research for Inquiry 2013
Ten early childhood and special education students at Lebanon Valley College are working toward improving the campus for those with special needs and disabilities through intensive research. They will present their recommendations at Inquiry 2013.
Sophomore Jill Daugherty is among the group that took that initiative and began research on LVC’s campus by assessing the needs of both current and potential students.
“We’re really just trying to change the campus for the better with our findings,” Daugherty said. “We hope that, maybe when we leave here, the campus will be a little better for someone, with little changes over time.”
Their research found that some buildings on campus were difficult to access for those with disabilities.
“Of course, many of the buildings on our campus are older, so that creates a challenge,” she said, “but I hate the idea that somebody can’t come to the school I love because they can’t get around the campus as easily as I can.”
Each member took the responsibility of researching a particular building or area and analyzing the information. Daugherty was pleased to find that her building, Mund College Center, was handicap accessible after the renovations were completed this academic year.
“Its not just about students in wheelchairs. Students get injured from sports and other activities, too. For them to get from the academic side of campus to the athletic side means they have to have somebody help them up and down the stairs, or they have to get in a car and drive,” Daugherty said. “Even visitors, parents, and grandparents may struggle with the bridge.”
“I was at another school and transferred to LVC. With larger schools, it’s a lot further for everybody to get around. It took me 20 minutes to walk to class. Here, it takes only five minutes to get anywhere, so it’s actually really ideal for those in wheelchairs,” Daugherty said.
Active research on the topic has not only made the students excited about the possibility of change, but it’s also made them more aware of their surroundings. “Before this research, I would have never thought about accessibility. Now I analyze buildings everywhere,” Daugherty said.
The 10 students will present their recommendations for campus changes at Inquiry, but they’ve already been proactive in making their voices heard.
“We did meet with President Thayne. He wants nothing more than to see our campus be user-friendly for everyone and he told us there are plans to build a new bridge.”
For Daugherty, Inquiry 2013 only accelerates her momentum. “Inquiry will give us an opportunity to make more people aware; maybe they will then think about accessibility themselves. For example, some of the doors here are heavy. Maybe this will open their eyes and they will start holding the door for the next person.”
“If our research can affect even one person, we’ve done our job,” she said.
A task force has been formed within Student Government to address issues students with disabilities may be facing.
Daugherty is among the 170 students selected to present their research at Inquiry 2013 on Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m. in the Arnold Sports Center Gymnasium. For additional information about the event, visit www.lvc.edu/inquiry.