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Welcome to 1800Wheelchair.ca Winter '10 Scholarship

Topic: What advice would you give to school administrators to make your campus more inclusive of people with disabilities?

Congratulations
Borris Spassov
William Lyon Mackenzie C.I.

 

Is a person with disabilities any different than those that stand beside him? Is he lesser because he is limited in some of the tasks he can complete? Before any advice is given to school administrators, it should be made sure that administrators understand that an individual with a disability is just an ordinary person. This individual still has needs and desires, worries about various day to day activities, and pays taxes like everybody else.

Once administrators have understood that they are dealing with just another regular student, the first piece of advice would be to reduce discrimination. The first way discrimination can be reduced is by changing the way the student body speaks about it. Although it may be subtle, using the term disabled excessively does put disabled students in their own "category", thus starting the grounds for discrimination. Campus is a place where students can walk around and enjoy themselves, regardless of their sex, ethnicity, or physical impairment.

The next piece of advice for administrators would be to design the campus to be easily accessible for those with impairments. A set of stairs can feel like a brick wall that blocks disabled personal from proceeding into society. Administrators should opt to build ramps for every building. Not only will ramps help disabled personnel, but make other tasks, such as carrying heavy objects into buildings, much easier.

After making buildings accessible, administrators would be advised to provide residencies with rooms that are especially furnished for disabled students. For example, the room could contain grab bars and transfer benches. The administrator could also make some of these items available throughout the buildings in the campus as well. The library could contain several lift chairs. Also, if possible, the residency should try to be located within a close proximity to the campus. Thus, students would not only be more mobile around the campus, but be mobile inside of it as well. Now with everything accessible, the student does not need to struggle to enter society. The student can simply work on their course load, and enjoy time with their peers.

The last piece of advice would be to host, "Persons with Disabilities" awareness days. The goal of this idea is to not only make the campus physically accessible, but also socially accessible. Fellow students would be aware of their peer's disabilities, and be more willing to interact with them. These days should also be used to stimulate the creation of various clubs and teams that disabled students can participate in. This provides a more accessible and enjoyable environment for all.

Building a campus that is not only easily accessible, but comfortable for disabled students should only be the start for school administrators. Once the campus is outfitted with accessibility components, administrators should start focusing on getting a supportive and knowledgeable mentality throughout the student population. Educated students will be more compassionate and caring towards each other, despite any differences. This way, the disabled student will not only have an accessible campus, but a friendly and stimulating one as well.