What COVID-19 restrictions mean for students with disabilities
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Students with disabilities have faced additional struggles with the COVID-19 restrictions this semester.
By Sydnie Balcer
Many college students have struggled with adjustments and changes being made due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one of the groups to struggle the most have been students with disabilities, particularly if they are attending in-person classes.
On the SWOSU campus, students with disabilities have already had additional issues on-campus that are unrelated to COVID-19. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “Nineteen percent of undergraduates in 2015-16 reported having a disability.”
One of the beneficial aspects of COVID-19 accommodations on college campuses has been the option for virtual learning. The option for online learning has allowed students with disabilities to learn in a more comfortable or easy-to-access environment. It is important to note, however, that there is diversity among types of disabilities and the challenges that come with them. For example, students with auditory disabilities who rely on lip-reading can have difficulty understanding lectures if there is lag in a professor’s virtual audio. The deaf community also has struggles with lip-reading due to college campuses requiring masks.
With the move toward social distancing, there are many buildings at SWOSU with “enter only” and “exit only” signs. As a result, this makes it difficult for students with disabilities to get to their in-person classes.
“The Art Building has a sign that if you’re handicapped, you can still use it,” SWOSU student Ellica Eberle said. “The Campbell Building doesn’t have that, but I just ignore it.”
Eberle deals with a physical disability that makes it difficult to walk long distances, and she has had to violate the instructions on signs in order to get to her classes in a timely manner. Due to this, Eberle has received comments from other students about violating the rules and felt pressured to accommodate to COVID-19 in the way that other able-bodied students do.
Eberle also says that the Weatherford SWOSU campus can be difficult to get around even without the COVID-19 restrictions in place.
“The hills suck,” Eberle said. “I literally have to be picked up to get from one class to another because I can’t walk up the hills.”
While SWOSU has many accommodations for students and faculty with disabilities, there are still many architectural barriers within the campus that students with disabilities have to worry about, such as the hills Eberle mentioned.
There are many new struggles students have to face with COVID-19, and for those with disabilities, the transition can be much more difficult. Students who are having issues with COVID-19 restrictions should contact the Dean of Students Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 580-774-3767.
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