MUSE plans wheelchair tour of campus

The tour will start on Lowry Mall and travel to locations such as Ellis Library and Middlebush Hall.
A wheelchair ramp is located between Hill and Townsend halls. Next Thursday, a tour will be led by MU Student Exceptions around campus to make students aware of accessibility issues.

As its first ever outreach event, the newly created MU Student Exceptions group is hosting a wheelchair tour of campus Dec. 9.

“We’ve been tossing around different awareness ideas, and this is something we think is going to help,” graduate student Gina Ceylan said.

In June, Lee Henson, MU's Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator, took administrators on a wheelchair tour of campus. This spurred MUSE’s implementation of the idea, Ceylan said.

“We heard about it and we were like, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea. We should try something like that,’” Ceylan said.

Senior Steven Denney is a member of MUSE and he uses a wheelchair. He said he is excited to see how students react to traveling via wheelchair.

“I’d like to see people notice how hard it is for people like me to get around,” Denney said. “Not everything is handicap-accessible.”

The tour will begin on Lowry Mall. University Hospital lent four wheelchairs for the event, but Ceylan said the group might obtain more. After departing Lowry Mall, the tour will travel to Ellis Library, Jesse Hall, Pickard Hall and Middlebush Hall before returning to Lowry.

“There are different things about each of those places that are really challenging to navigate,” Ceylan said. “But of course people can opt out at any time if they get tired.”

Denney said MUSE not only encourages students to participate, but faculty and administration as well.

“A big part of our group is education and awareness,” Denney said. “We would really like to get faculty or anyone from administration to try it, along with students. We’d like to show them what kinds of difficulties we go through."

Because of the tour’s length, Ceylan said participants might have to wait a while for their turn. But in the meantime, she said participants will be available to answer questions. Participants can also experience life as a blind or visually impaired student, with goggles, canes and blindfolds that will be made available.

“This stuff is good, but putting a blindfold on a sighted person isn’t really the same,” Ceylan said. “It gives them sort of more of an idea, though.”

A visually impaired student herself, Ceylan said she feels campus is fairly simple to navigate.

“I don’t really have any problems navigating, but that’s because I have a lot of experience,” Ceylan said. “It is difficult, though, when I have to go somewhere new, and I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.”

What she said many blind or visually impaired students struggle with is participating in class, whereas students with wheelchairs have a harder time getting to class.

“Since we’re having this big push for universally designed education, we need to improve people’s awareness of universally designed architecture as well,” Ceylan said.

She said she hopes the event will facilitate interaction among students with and without disabilities.

“We don’t want to be like, ‘Hey, look how hard our lives are. Feel sorry for us. We want your pity,’” Ceylan said. “We don’t want their pity. We want their acceptance and their help to make things better.”

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