Accessibility at Guilford is a major accomplishment

While Guilford College’s goal to achieve total accessibility for all students has bloomed, look forward to it blossoming.

I hope to see Guilford keep growing and to continue to see both faculty and students working to make Guilford as accessible as possible from many angles.

Thankfully, the Accessibility Subcommittee does consider the issue in a multifaceted way.

The subcommittee approaches their charge from multiple perspectives concerning information, physical ability and attitude.

“Our accessibility plan is ambitious, but achievable,” said Chair of the Accessibility Subcommittee and Director of the Learning Commons Melissa Daniel-Frink.

Considering their ambition combined with their perspective-based approach, Guilford is leagues above its peers in making the campus and its services accessible for everyone.

Still, there are always other steps to be taken.

Looking at information, the Learning Common’s Dragon Naturally Speaking software assists students who are hearing impaired by converting speech to text. A Kurzweil Reader and a Jobs Access with Speech screen reader provide a text-to-speech output for students who are visually impaired.

“The college has purchased a Brailler in order to make information accessible for all our students,” said Daniel-Frink.

Yet, the range of services available to make textbooks accessible is significantly more restricted.

“I couldn’t take advantage of (the text-to-speech readers) because it requires the binding of the book get cut off,” said senior Emma Debby.

The bookstore doesn’t offer any similar substitutions, but is willing to look into possible solutions if approached by Disability Resources.

“But (The Learning Commons) were extremely kind and helpful,” continued Debby.

The members of the Learning Commons do their best to have information available for its students, even if there are some limitations to the services offered.

Looking at Guilford’s accessibility from a physical standpoint, many measures have been taken.

“Most recent is this Summer when Hege-Cox Hall was outfitted with ramps, and door openers were placed on the doors (as well as) in King Hall,” said Assistant Academic Dean for Academic Support Barbara Boyette. “Every year we try to think ahead for accessibility and make it better.”

Some improvements can be made, such as having door openers for the bathroom stalls. The stalls comply with regulations regarding their size and also have the necessary bars. However, none of that matters if the students can’t enter the restroom.

Some other places on campus also remain inaccessible for some students. However, Facilities has shown and continues to express their willingness to adjust beyond the code to continue making renovations to help Guilford become more accessible, like the lowering of the elevator buttons to a height reachable for all students.

In the realm of attitude, Guilford is above and beyond.

“I have always seen disabilities as human variation and I hope that attitude becomes pervasive in our community to where we understand and embrace differences and not look at them in a negative light,” said Coordinator of Disability Resources Georgie Bogdan.

Faculty and staff at Guilford have gone the extra mile to ensure Guilford’s evolution towards accessibility for everyone.

“The people that we work with are dedicated to making (complete accessibility) happen, and we know we have to change, to grow, and we’re all up for it,” said Boyette.

Daniel-Frink also expressed Guilford’s drive to make not only itself but the whole world accessible as a living, emergent force.

“Take what you learn about accessibility and the mind-set you gain here and take it into the world, because that is where it grows,” said Daniel-Frink.

Hopefully, as Daniel-Frink described, Guilford has sown seeds in both its community and the minds of its students to take accessibility to heart and work towards a more accessible world for everyone.