Services help disabled students

Come to school everyday, fight crowds across campus from class to class, complete hours of lecture and reading notes, take exams and write term papers – a typical semester for a college student.

While some college students may find this challenging, for the nearly 4 percent of students at Northern Kentucky University with registered disabilities, these tasks, combined with additional physical and technological barriers, can be even more challenging.

However, Disability Services and Facilities Management personnel work to make it easier.

Sue Roth, Testing and Disability Services director, said for students with disabilities, even seemingly small barriers can be quite daunting.

“Sometimes it takes longer to get from place to place,” Roth said. “It takes longer sometimes to get readings done and to do some of the homework because of the extra technology and things they have to use. When the elevators are out, it’s no big deal for (most people); we just take the stairs. They don’t have a lot of extra time to spend when things aren’t working right on campus. It’s a tough challenge.”

Problems such as accessibility always come up throughout campus, and where one problem is fixed, another often pops up in its place, according to Roth.

This past week the university added a wooden ramp outside the University Center in order to better facilitate disabled students’ route, which had been circuitous, from that point to the Albright Health Center.

“There’s always going to be something that we don’t realize that somebody points out to us,” explained Larry Blake, assistant vice president of Facilities Management. “We try to address those concerns as quickly as we possibly can.”

Roth echoed this statement and commended the Facilities Management team on the job they perform.

“They are very responsive,” she said. “They’re juggling a lot of different demands from people.”

According to Roth, the job isn’t as easy as it may seem considering they must determine whether safety or convenience issues are at stake and what planning and budgetary measures will secure their completion.

While Blake said most ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues are resolved in two to three weeks, that timeframe is shortened depending on the severity of the issue, with some things being addressed overnight. While the nature of the Facilities Management department’s job makes their policy toward improvements largely reactive, Blake said in the summer the department has a health, safety and risk officer conduct a survey of the campus for potential problem areas to take a more pro-active approach to improvements.

The Disability Services and Facilities Management relationship is one where the departments work collectively to address student needs.

“We’re all working toward the same purpose,” Roth said. “To make this the best campus we can; accessible to everybody.”