Demeaning edit

The Northern Star’s Editorial Board should do more investigative reporting before writing such an inaccurate editorial as that which appeared Jan. 28.

There are two types of accessibility which are accepted by law. (1) Removal of physical barriers which often is extremely expensive. (2) Programmatic accessibility which is very inexpensive and, of course, is the one used by this university whenever possible. Each semester our office assists in moving classes which are not accessible to students using wheelchairs or scooters. If a class is on the third floor of Reavis Hall we work with the department involved in finding a new accessible location for the class. If there are no empty rooms in a nearby area, an exchange of rooms can often be worked out. If the editorial board had taken just a few seconds to read the BEFORE YOU REGISTER section on page 3 of the Spring Schedule Book they would have found the accessibility symbol and the following information:

Students with physical disabilities who use wheelchairs or are otherwise severely mobility impaired may need to register for a class which is not in an accessible area. Please contact Services for Students with Disabilities, 753-1303, for assistance in relocating the class.”

Much can be done toward making reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities without depriving all students funding for courses or otherwise pushing to receive a big piece of the budget pie! If the Star was referring to my concern that there is not one macintosh computer on this campus adapted for use by persons with visual impairments, I see nothing in that concern which speaks of total physical accessibility. It seems quite reasonable to ask for one computer in an English lab which can also be used by all other students when not needed by a blind student.

I, an individual who is totally blind, am distressed by the attitude set forth by the Star which suggests that persons with disabilities here at NIU are expecting or wanting total physical accessibility—a “shiny, happy utopia.” The Star’s choice of wording in this paragraph exhibits a demeaning attitude toward persons whose daily lives are usually comprised of extra struggles and challenges in order to maintain an ordinary existence. The persons I know with disabilities realize that a barrier-free world would be an awesome fantasy land. None of us expects or asks for such a thing. We do, however, ask for reasonable consideration, respect and personal dignity which should be shared by everyone. The Star’s poor effort yesterday did nothing to promote understanding and a willingness to work together to make NIU a better community for ALL!

Linn Sorge

Team Coordinator

Services for Students with Disabilities