AMES, Iowa – When it comes to higher education at Iowa’s Regent Institutions, it’s not enough just to meet the American’s with Disabilities Act. According to one study, half of all students who attend college reported they never participated in any clubs, activities or sports.
The Iowa Regents Disability Awareness Summit was held on the Iowa State University Campus. Keynote Speaker Dr. Nancy Evans shared that study on how when students with disabilities are not able to participate in activities with other students.
“Disabled students often see themselves as being different as not fitting into a campus which can lead to feelings of isolation,” said Evans. Dr. Evans was a long-time ISU Professor, who uses a wheelchair, has been working as a disability advocate for students. She retired from her position last year, but is still active in encouraging educators to be aware.
A big issue is having buildings which are accessible to students. “When designing and modifying facilities . . . consult with individuals with disabilities, not just architects, that’s one of my pet peeves,” said Evans.
Evans added that new construction should be designed so students who have mobility issues should not have to feel different on a social level. She cited how those in wheel chairs have to go a different way than most to get into some buildings. “How would it feel for you to leave your friends, go all the way around,to the back of the building go in the servants entrance that’s what it feels like,” said Evans.
She said events should be planned for those who have some special needs, and those students should not always have to call to ask if it is possible to attend. Things like ramps or elevators, or interpreters are all things disabled students need to know.