Winter weather accommodation efforts seem in good shape

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

Being rated number one as one of the most disability friendly college campuses in the United States, there is a certain level of expectation and pride that comes with this label. This includes making sure campus facilities are accessible, and classrooms and living arrangements are accommodating for all. There is always work to be done and updates needed to ensure the University remains disability friendly, and that becomes particularly relevant in these winter months.

Snow and ice removal is a topic we have commented on before, where we emphasized the need to keep streets and sidewalks salted and clear due to the plethora of students and pedestrians who use them daily. What also must be considered and accounted for when it comes to snow and ice removal is the needs of those with physical disabilities who require such devices as wheelchairs.

Fortunately, it looks as though despite inconveniences of winter weather and occasionally less-than-great sidewalk conditions, the University is attempting to do their part to accommodate students with disabilities.

As noted in an article in the Daily Illini today, students with disabilities are offered services by the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services on campus. DRES provides many resources for students with varying needs, and they have done a great job at improving the quality of living and learning for those who use the service.

In terms of dealing with winter weather commute, one of the amenities DRES provides are buses that pick up qualified students from their living location and take them to where they need to be. In addition, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District provides wheelchair accessible buses as well.

We highly appreciate these amenities on campus because it shows the needs of all students are something that is considered by the University, which is essential on a campus that prides itself in its accessibility.

However, even a fine-oiled machine isn’t perfect all the time. In The Daily Illini article it was noted by Meredith Bradford, junior in AHS, that CUMTD buses aren’t always the most spacious for students in wheelchairs, and Tim Nagel, junior in AHS, noted that snow can be problematic for those in wheelchairs because of where it piles up at the ends of sidewalks once it has been plowed.

But it still seems that as a whole, campus has been faring pretty well with the periodic onslaught of snow and ice over the past few months. Streets seem to be getting cleared relatively quickly. Many sidewalks are being salted, and CUMTD buses are frequent to allow more students to have warmer and quicker commutes to class.

As with any good endeavor, however, there is always room for improvement. So far, the University seems to be doing what it can to be accommodating to students with disabilities during the rough winter travel season, and we hope to see more positive changes and innovations to address student concerns in the future.