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Shining a Light on Disability Challenges Through a University Event

Advocates for individuals with disabilities are urging able-bodied people to experience using a wheelchair to better understand the challenges faced by those who rely on them daily.

At Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, an event was organized to demonstrate the difficulties presented by the campus’s vast, hilly terrain and intricate architecture, which, while appealing, pose significant obstacles for some. The event was a collaborative effort by the university’s Accessibility Resource Center and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Kelly Narowski, a Missouri Western alumna and wheelchair user, shared her experiences. “When I attended the university, I had no knowledge of the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA), as I was still walking then,” she said. Narowski, who became partially paralyzed after a car accident at 25, noted the improved accessibility she observed upon her return. “Seeing the campus now, there’s accessibility everywhere. It’s impressive,” she added.

The challenges of navigating stairs underscored the broader need for inclusive environments and heightened disability awareness.

Narowski expressed appreciation for the voluntary nature of the event and the eagerness of participants to learn from the experience. Jackie McGuire, a counselor at the university, also participated by navigating the campus in a wheelchair, finding the experience eye-opening. “Empathizing is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand really changes your perspective,” McGuire commented.

Kar Miller, a keynote speaker and student at the university, emphasized the importance of raising awareness about disabilities. Miller, who uses a powered wheelchair, pointed out the occasional lack of assistance when her device malfunctions or moves slowly.

Narowski also highlighted the strong protections afforded by the ADA, noting that while some inconsiderate behaviors have decreased due to penalties and public scrutiny, issues like improper parking in designated access areas remain. “It’s crucial to address and correct these behaviors,” she stated, underscoring her commitment to improving awareness and compliance.

Click here to view original article at www.thestar.com.my

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