Office of Student Life

Accessibility, services attract handicapped to OSU

This article originally appeared in the February 21, 1983 edition of The Lantern.

By C. Jan Fields

Lantern staff writer

OSU ranks very high in accessibility and services for the handicapped in spite of the large size of the campus and the number of old buildings, said Warren King, Director of the Office for Disability Services.

“Enrollment of the disabled has more than doubled in the past two years. OSU is getting something of a reputation in this area,” said King, who is disabled and must use a wheelchair.

Last year Disability Services provided services provided services for 447 permanently disabled students, 350 temporarily disabled students and 110 disabled staff and faculty members, King said.

The most common disabilities are mobility impairment, vison impairment, hearing impairment, and the learning disability dyslexia. But Disability Services also provides services for hidden disabilities, like heart and kidney conditions, he said.

Some of services provided include taped text books, one-to-one reading, tutor referral, priority scheduling, counseling and adaptive transportation. The office also provides test-taking assistance.

In many cases the visually impaired, dyslexic, or mobility impaired students have trouble finishing a test in the time allowed in class, King said. Under the test accommodation program the tests are given by the Office for Disability Services and the tests are given by the Office for Disability Services and the students are allowed up to twice the amount of class time to take the test. If necessary, tests can be given orally.

Disability Services recently renovated their offices to double the available space for test accommodation and textbook taping, he said.

The office puts out two types of maps for the disabled. One is an access guide for students in wheelchairs. It shows the location of modified restrooms, elevators, curb ramps and accessible entrances. It also lists on-campus modified dorms.

The second is a tactile map for the sight impaired. Names of streets and buildings are listed in both Brialle and large print.

Disability Services does not provide note-takers because it doesn’t have enough money in its budget. But it does not provide free testing to students who think they might have dyslexia. Previously, this test cost $40, he said.

Getting around is biggest problem

Although Disability Services provides special services for the handicapped, most disabled people need the same type of help as all other OSU, King said.

“The biggest difficulty handicapped students have at OSU is what any student on a large campus has; that is, wandering around to find assistance,” king said.

Winter can create special problems for the disabled. Snow can make it harder for mobility impaired students to get around campus.

Students using crutches have the most trouble inside buildings where snow melts on the waxed floors. Partially sighted people cannot tell where the sidewalk ends and the snow begins, and they can’t tap the sidewalk when it is covered with snow, he said.

The thoughtlessness of some students also creates special problems for the disabled, King said.

Some students have chained their bikes to wheelchair ramps with the handlebars extending into the rampway. Students in wheelchairs have been hurt when they hit the handlebars. Once they start down the ramp, they don’t have the strength to stop, he said.

“It is hard to say whether all the needs of the disabled are being met. I doubt if there is any student on campus who can say all of his needs are being met. There is always room for improvement. That’s what we are striving for.”

To help Disability Services better assess the needs of the disabled on campus, King has set up the Consumer Advisory Council. Students representing each of the major disabilities were appointed to the council, which had its first meeting this month.

The council listens to complaints from other students and recommends possible solutions. Council members also base their recommendations on their own experiences.

“The only people qualified to critique the quality of the services are those who use them, said King.

Council member Stella Nafziger, 71, graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in political science. Nafziger, who has glaucoma and has trouble walking because of arthritis, represents both vision impaired and mobility impaired students who are not in wheelchairs.

Nafziger said she could not have gotten her degree without the help of Disability Services. She is continuing to take classes at OSU under Program 60.

Disabled must voice their needs

She said the only way the council can discover what is needed is if the disabled come forward and voice their needs. Often, disabled people are too proud to admit they are disabled or that they need help.

They feel able people look down at them, she said, noting that she learned a lot when she began telling others that she is disabled.

“I found the able person does not look down on disabled people. Any time an able person helps you ity is out of a desire to be kind and helpful, not because they pity you,” she said.

“Once you come forward and overcome your shyness, you can become part of the mainstream.”

“I was astonished at the number of students who were aware of me that I didn’t know. Young people come up to me in the store and ask how I did on a test. They just want to chat. A camaraderie is developed.”

She said she would like to see note-taking services provided.

“The visually impaired have such a hard time seeing the board that by the time they figure out what it says, the professor is erasing it,” she said.

Diane Lyle, a junior from Houston, represents hearing impaired students on the council. Lyle, who has a 75 percent hearing loss, uses note-takers in most of her classes.

Some professors even let her use their notes. She said this lets he concentrate on reading the professors lips.

Lyle said the best thing for a hearing-impaired student to do is to make friends with someone in the same major who will be in the same classes and can help with notes.

Disability Services is a backup system when students cannot work out their own problems, she said. The office has helped her get into special recitation sections that have Tas who are easier for her to understand, she said.

Sue Kirchner, a third-year law student, represents dyslexic students.

Dyslexia is an neurological imbalance between the right and left halves of the brain that affects one out of 10 Americans. People with dyslexia have trouble reading, writing, and spelling. To them, letters or whole words appear turned around. They may have trouble with math because they have problems with placement of numbers and the order of formulas.

Most professors considered helpful

Kitchner said most of the students with dyslexia say their professors are helpful. If the professors are a problem, the Office for Disability Services will talk to them.

“Very few people have had to do that. Most people know about it, so they are cooperative,” she said.

Doug Bischoff, a sophomore from Fremont, also represents dyslexic students on the council.

“You have to have patience with the professors because they may not understand your problems. I have not had any problems with professors here. Sometimes the other students will say, ‘why is he getting extra time on his test?’ But you have to cope with Society,” he said.

Bischoff seemed to sum up the feelings that most disabled students expressed when he said, “My disability may slow me down, but it doesn’t stop me.”