“I do think SHU is doing better at improving accessibility. It seems like sliding doors are being added every day, and there is ramp access to many buildings,” said sophomore Anna Macaulay, Senator of Student Government.
Sliding doors were recently installed this fall on Sacred Heart University’s campus, replacing the traditional heavy doors in many buildings such as Martire and the Humanities Center of the Main Academic building. Some students are still acknowledging the newly installed doors as they enter these buildings.
“The removal of big, heavy doors with sliding ones are the most notable improvements,” said Macaulay. “Student Ambassadors have an accessibility route now when a prospective student or family member has a wheelchair.”
Though the sliding doors are still new on campus, some students feel this issue can be worked on more. Physical accessibility can also deal with improving speech assistance in classrooms.
“Sacred Heart is working on improving campus accessibility, but there is much more that can be done to better improve accessibility. There are some interior doors on campus that are always closed, but do not have push buttons or magnets holding them open,” said sophomore Corinne Bain. “I believe that there are some ways that classes could be made more universally accessible, such as by always including captions on videos when available. This would benefit not only people who have hearing loss, but also people who may struggle to process auditory information or people who have learned English as a second language.”
Some students also take into consideration that sliding doors are only the beginning of improvements and there is much more work for the road ahead for physical accessibility on campus.
Senior Julia Kavanagh said, “I think SHU is doing a fair job improving accessibility on campus and the residence halls. However, there is still progress to be made. All academic buildings have elevators present; however, all elevators are not near the entrance of buildings, and at times do not work or work well.”
Students who run into concerns on campus with physical accessibility are directed to the Office of Student Accessibility, where Director Kathy Radziunas assists with concerns.
“Students who have concerns may reach out to the Office of Student Accessibility, and yes, a few students who use wheelchairs or crutches have shared the difficulties they have had navigating the campus,” said Radziunas. “For a campus to be considered truly accessible, a student should not face ‘undue burden’ such as having to work harder or take longer to move throughout the campus, live in the dorms or attend activities.”
Students can request accommodations before the school semester starts to make sure they are not facing any of the undue burdens Radziunas mentioned.
“Sometimes these issues can be remedied by providing additional accommodations such as priority registration so that the student can select classes in the same building on a given day or schedule the timing of a class to allow for the time it will take to travel between classes using a wheelchair, for example,” said Radziunas.
Some members of Student Government who serve as a voice for the student body on campus and work with Community and Inclusion advocate for campus change and can be a resource to students.
Senior Bella Scarmack, Director of Community and Inclusion of Student Government, said, “I think every campus can improve on its accessibility. SHU has included numerous efforts, including sliding doors and audiovisuals to display lectures as written words on a board. SHU should continue to invest in this technology and grow accessibility on campus.”
“I think the installation of sliding doors on campus is a great improvement,” said senior Sal Morlino, Senator of Student Government. “Now it just makes it so much easier, especially for people with physical disabilities. As a senator, I am hoping to see more improvements.”