NIU community should improve disability support

By Hanna Markezich

NIU should make its buildings more disability friendly by updating old facilities and fixing elevators. Also, students should become more aware of how to support fellow students with disabilities.

The Disability Resource Center makes sure students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to succeed in a college setting. The center gives students the option for transportation to and from campus along with other services students with different disabilities can use, according to the Disability Resource Center website.

Unfortunately, the resource center can only provide so much help. Elevators in campus buildings need to be updated. DuSable Hall, for example, has an elevator that runs very slowly, which can create a hassle since the building often has a rush of students flowing in and out.

“The school does need to update some of their building’s elevators … . As for the faculty, they are supportive of the students that need assistance,” said Debra Miller, acting director at the Disability Resource Center.

The geography department is in the process of making a 3D map of the school. This will act as a better visualization for incoming blind students, Miller said.

“This will help blind students visualize the campus … they will know where their buildings are at and where to be cautious due to roads,” Miller said.

Projects such as this are promising and make building modifications seem like an obvious next step to making the college experience as normal as possible for those with disabilities.

Miller said she does not want students to view disabilities as a negative label. Not every disability is noticeable. For this reason students should take advantage of the resources and events held by the Disability Resource Center and organizations that partner with it.

Deaf Pride is an organization that celebrates and spreads awareness of Deaf culture on campus, according to the NIU website.

This organization consists of deaf and non-deaf members who put on events in order to teach others about deaf culture, including learning American Sign Language. I believe students should be more educated in disabilities and learn how to properly help other students when needed.

Sophomore accounting major Joe Sansone is visually impaired but does not use a service dog. While Sansone is very independent, other students with disabilities may need more assistance.

“Do not wait to contact the [Disability Resource Center] or professors … it would hurt your GPA,” Sansone said.

Overall, the NIU community does support those with disabilities but there is always room for improvement. I thank the Disability Resource Center for the services that they perform; hopefully their efforts will inspire the rest of NIU to follow suit.