CAAR helps students with disablities

By Jalen Cobb

For Ed Rietveld, getting around campus can prove to be difficult sometimes.

Rietveld, junior journalism major, has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair to get around.

“Not all the buildings have [handicap accessible] doors,” Rietveld said. “Montgomery Hall, where I take my math class, does not have a handicap button so I have to take someone with me.”

Students that are faced with disabilities and/or impairments at NIU are provided assistance through the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR).

“One role of the Center for Access-Ability Resources is to coordinate accommodations for students with disabilities,” said Melanie Thompson, director for CAAR. “Students with disabilities may have accommodations in and out of the classroom, depending on the nature of their disability.”

Programs such as CAAR enable students to live the lifestyle of an average college student when it comes to functioning in residence halls, but there are different challenges to be faced across campus.

“Students with disabilities seeking accommodations from Housing & Dining are provided with over 120 accommodated rooms in the residence halls,” Thompson said.

The accommodations provided in this room range from items such as Braille tags, door openers, single rooms and private bath access, Thompson said. She said NIU has limited resources that make it hard to match the services provided at other universities.

“NIU is disabled friendly in some areas, but not in all,” said Morgan Ruffin, senior child development major. “Buildings such as Gabel are especially handicap accessible, but others not so much.”

Accessibility to buildings on campus are just one of the places that are not 100 percent handicapped accessible. The elevators in some of the residence halls are not accessible, and some halls don’t have elevators, Rietveld said.

Thompson said the new residence halls recently approved by the Board of Trustees will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some students believe that NIU is not helping out those that have disabilities.

“I have a friend that is disabled and some options are provided, but there are still some problems,” said Cindy Hammil, senior child development and sociology major.

Hammil said she believes NIU is not helping disabled students because they are faced with more costs.

“My friend is accommodated to a degree, but NIU charges more money for parking permits for [disabled] students,” Hammil said.

Students may have to wait for future plans to take effect, but for now individuals with disabilities seeking assistance are encouraged to contact CAAR for more details, Thompson said.