Office of Student Life

OSU extends assistance to students with visual disabilities

This article originally appeared in April 3, 1996 edition of The Lantern.

By Erica DeGennaro

Lantern staff writer

Ohio State’s Office for Disability Services offers many facilities to help visually impaired and blind students meet the challenges of daily life.

“we offer a variety of services,” said Jim Baker, academic support coordinator in the Office of Disability Services. “We have a computer learning center that uses IBM or Macintosh computers with specialized programs that use a TSAI VersaPoint braille printer, or reading rooms where students can take extra time for exams, have readers or use specialized equipment.”

All of the facilities OSU has to offer for disability students are located in Pomerene Hall, Baker said.

There are 51 visually impaired and seven or eight blind students at Ohio State and all have a variety of different majors, Baker said.

“we try to discourage students because they have an impairment,” he said. “but we are also realistic with students and if they are willing then we will try to provide accommodations.”

The OSU transportation department provides a service called “Handy Man” for all students with disabilities. The service picks up students anywhere on campus and takes them from one building to the next.

Baker said he thinks the “Handy Man” is one of the best adaptive transportation systems in the country. Schmidt agrees with Bakker.

“I have been using the “Handy Man” for the past six years and it’s been a great help,” Schmidt said.

Some visually impaired or blind students prefer having a dog which is trained to assist the disabled or using a cane to help them navigate campus. Some students count the number of steps at buildings and throughout campus.

“if you look at the facilities in a broader sense, looking at transportation and accommodations by the professors, I believe there is always room for improvement,” said one blind student, a junior, who asked to have her name withheld.

“some professors accommodate the students because they have to and feel that it is their duty,” she said. “A majority of the professors are not willing to deal with students with disabilities.”

One of the biggest problems that visually impaired and blind students use Grade Notes and change the textbooks they were going to originally use, Baker said. Many visually impaired or blind students rely on the taping of textbooks that are done four to six weeks before classes start, Baker said.

Disability services are always trying to stay up to date with the latest facilities, but unfortunately, they don’t have all of the funds to do all the time, Baker said.