Dorm helps students with disabilities

 

 

By Rebecca Spizzirri

You think your roommate is a mess? Try living with a Labrador.

Bridget Evans, a sophomore in LAS, is living in Busey-Evans for her second year. She lives alone in a double sized room with her service dog, Coal.

“They gave me a double as an accommodation. I need the extra space for Coal, my wheelchair and my braces,” Evans said.

The residence hall also installed push button doors and lowered the lock and peephole on Evan’s door upon request. The hall has made similar accommodations for the two other residents who are living with disabilities.

But not all students with disabilities are able to live independently.

Each year, 20 students live in Beckwith Hall, a University residence hall run by the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services.

“Beckwith Hall offers a variety of unique services including 24-hour on-call assistance, a personal assistant program and a computer lab with assisstive technology and software,” said Pat Malik, Beckwith hall director.

While some students choose to live in Beckwith for the duration of their education, the ultimate goal of the facility is to improve the student’s ability to manage his or her particular disability so that he or she can ultimately live independently.

Kevin Fritz, a junior in AHS and President of Delta Sigma Omicron, a service fraternity aiding persons with disabilities, lived in Beckwith Hall for two years and has now moved to an apartment.

“I left Beckwith with the skills and smarts to not only live independently, but also to know how to face the roadblocks of my disability,” Fritz said.

Finding a wheelchair accessible apartment was one of those roadblocks.

Despite being a very wheelchair-friendly campus, accessible apartments in Campustown are hard to come by.

Fritz said he found that the most accessible apartments are in the newest buildings, which are also the most in demand.

The accessible housing situation is expected to improve with the renovation of the Gregory and Peabody Drive residence halls in 2010.

The Beckwith program will be moved to the first floor of the new building, allowing more students to have access to its services, Malik said.

It will also allow for more interaction between students living on other floors and Beckwith students, especially in the shared dining hall.