Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February  24, 2017


MU Advocates for Acessibility

Brittany Dilley

It’s easy for many students to take getting around campus for granted. But accessibility to and within buildings is not so simple for individuals in wheelchairs. So in his Adapted Physical Activity class, Professor Kim Duchane and his students complete a simulation where they navigate the campus in wheelchairs in order to analyze the accessibility of certain buildings.
Duchane starts the course by analyzing the attitudes of his students through survey questions. The adapted physical activity course not only informs students of the struggles that disabled persons have, but helps inform them how to adapt and conform to the needs of those with physical disabilities.

The students completed the simulation over the entire campus, accessing and analyzing elements from elevators to ramps.  By law, Manchester’s disability accessibility meets the standards of the Americans with Disability Act. Duchane, however, believes there is always room for improvement.  “I always thought to put a wheelchair lift in the stairs,”  he said.

Duchane stressed that each of the buildings have certain criteria to follow under the American Disability Act.  This even includes door knobs.  He aims for the campus to be sensitive toward the needs of those with disabilities. “[Our] university will bend over backwards to assist anybody who wants to go here,” Duchane said.

The wheelchair simulation takes place during one 50-minute class period.  Each student takes their turn in a wheelchair (donated by Peabody) in their assigned building on campus.  They use each of the accommodations available for those with physical disabilities.

The class period following the simulation is dedicated to discussion by the student participants.  Duchane and the students talk about what was difficult, simple and what ideas they have to improve the accessibility for those with disabilities.

In the past, Duchane had the students compose a letter of their findings and concerns and choose the best one to send to the editor of the Oak Leaves newspaper.
The findings this year were that the newer, renovated buildings are more accessible than older buildings, such as the Administration Building.
Duchane says that the course isn’t just a voice for those with physical disabilities; it also speaks for those with mental disabilities.  With this course, Duchane hopes to “spit out” more and more advocates for disability accessibility and equity for all.  “We’re not just advocates for disabled people; we’re advocates for people,” Duchane said with a sincere smile.

This adapted physical activity course is open to all majors and Duchane encourages more students to take the course.