Access for All at the University of Mary Washington

Access for All at the University of Mary Washington

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Sarah Hearsey started this petition to VP Equity and Access & CDO, University of Mary Washington Sabrina Johnson and

To whom it may concern:

I am a concerned UMW student writing to inform you of several accessibilty issues on campus. I commend our Office of Disability Resources for helping students with disabilities, myself included, gain access to academic and housing accommodations, as well as free mental health services via the Talley Center, but have noticed areas where accessible spaces are missing. I like that you use Braille on the UC drink machines to help students with vision disabilities find the drinks they want, but have noticed it on only one machine, and the Braille labels on the silverware containers have been taken away. Also, the library should include a Braille section, so all students can have access to library materials. Braille textbooks or if that is not practical, textbooks that students with vision disabilities or dyslexia can listen to would be a welcome change. Large print library books and textbooks, plus books with dyslexia-friendly fonts would also help foster an inclusive campus. Hiring ASL interpreters for Deaf students who use the language on a regular basis, would also be a step in the right direction. Deaf/Hard of hearing students can also benefit from closed captions on campus movie night movies.

Other accessibility issues I have noticed have to do with the older residence halls on campus. I have met students with physical disabilities, and it concerns me that they cannot live in the older residences. My hall, Jefferson, built in 1967, has dorms too small to fit a wheelchair or large walker. Bushnell, Framar and South have similar issues. What if a student with a mobility disability is an English major or is in the Modern Languages and Literatures department and wishes to be as close to Combs Hall as possible? Jefferson or Bushnell would be the best choices. South and Framar would be good choices too with a more accesible route to Combs. The bathrooms in Jefferson, Bushnell, South and possibly Framar are outdated and therefore further limit where students with mobility disabilities can live. I commend the accessibility updates to Willard, and the ramp at Ball, but would like to see more of these updates in other older buildings. I feel like this would be more in line with our ASPIRE values.

Moreover, I commend what the university community has done to help students with disabilities gain access to education, but I also think more needs to be done. Updating older residence halls will increase housing options for students with physical disabilities. ASL interpreters will be a welcome change for Deaf students who wish to attend our university. Closed captions for our campus movie night films would also be a welcome change. Offering more library and textbooks in Braille, large print and dyslexia-friendly fonts, as well as increased use of Braille labeling for silverware containers and drink machines can also help our community. These changes, once implemented, with help foster an inclusive, accesible environment for all.

Sincerely,

Sarah Hearsey

 

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