Fischer, Dalton play handicapped for day

By Nancy Broten

Student Association President Jim Fischer and Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, played the roles of handicapped individuals yesterday to raise awareness as a part of Unity Through Diversity Week.

Equipped in a wheelchair, Fischer traveled around campus to make a statement about NIU’s level of accessibility to handicapped persons.

Meanwhile, Dalton navigated himself around campus with a walking stick, discovering the difficulties blind individuals face.

Fischer said he realized “how virtually impossible” getting around campus in a wheelchair would be when he was planning his routes the night before his ride.

“It’s ludicrous for the state and university to expect that this university can provide an education to people in a wheelchair,” he said.

Not only are cracks in the sidewalks aesthetically unpleasant, but they also are hazardous to wheelchair-bound individuals, Fischer said.

e said he took the wheelchair ride “for me personally to become more sensitive to the problems people in wheelchairs face.”

NIU’s Services for Handicapped Students sponsored the event. The objective of the event was to make the public more aware of the problems the disabled face, Services Coordinator Linn Sorge said.

She said the fact that Dalton and Fischer attempted to get around campus with a temporary disability was one step toward that objective.

Dalton said adjusting to the situation was difficult. “It was sort of overwhelming the way I had to adjust to the things I normally take for granted.”

Fischer said the wheelchair experience frustrated him after a while because the buildings are basically inaccessible. “I began to realize that the people in power do not realize the needs of disabled people.”

Sorge hopes Fischer and Dalton will reach out and share their experiences.

Dalton said he thinks the awareness week was well-received. “Some things were not so well-attended and some things were well-attended. Overall, the week was exciting to me,” he said.

“The week is just a start. There will be other plans to keep awareness up all year,” Dalton said.