Do you believe that disability accessibility largely contributes to a sense of social justice? For most students and faculty at Sacred Heart University, the availability of disability accessible areas is important in order to maintain inclusivity on campus and foster a communal feeling of social justice.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.” Although all public and private universities are required to follow the ADA, some students across the nation still find themselves struggling with certain areas on college campuses.
Many students believe that Sacred Heart’s campus generally follows the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but some note that there are different parts of the campus that are not accessible to everyone.
“I do feel the school does a good job at accommodating for students with disabilities, although there are some places I do feel could be more accessible like the steps going down from Roncalli Hall to campus. A way to fix this is to maybe add a ramp next to the steps,” said sophomore Victoria LoPinto.
Many people also believe that the campus is largely accommodating but not entirely finished with the improvements and goals of accessibility for students with disabilities.
“There will always be more that we can do and that is a good thing. Technology has made college a possibility for many students who a few years ago would not have found success in college,” said Director of Student Accessibility, Kathy Radziunas.
Though some students see the pitfalls and successes of the campus regarding this topic, many students do not pay close attention to the availability of services that help in accommodating students with disabilities because they do not personally need them.
“I do not really notice the accessible things throughout the school if I am not looking for them,” said LoPinto.
Others say this topic has opened their eyes.
“I have not really thought of accessibility before this interview. But I am glad that now I will be aware of it when I am going from building to building and how difficult the process might be for someone who has a disability,” said freshman Zachary Braca.
Although not every student has been aware of the amount or lack of accessibility for people with disabilities, most students see the need for these accommodations.
“Of course, I believe that it is important for a campus to be accessible… I think it is the least the school could do to ensure the quality education and inclusion,” said junior Autumn Garofola.
While acknowledging their progress, the school is working to make the campus more accessible in various ways.
“New buildings at SHU meet or exceed the ADA requirements. Our office has just begun to work with the other departments and campus organizations to investigate our accessibility, and I expect that we will all learn a lot from each other about what needs to be changed,” said Radziunas.
A variety of people do believe that social justice and disability accessibility are relevant to each other and the office of Student Accessibility is finding ways to celebrate that.
“In the coming months, we hope to partner with the diversity and inclusion organizations on campus to work toward Disability Pride. I think that it is important to not just advocate for our students, but to provide a venue for self-advocation,” said Radziunas.