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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Campus

Cougars take blind eye to UH campus


Jean Michael, Myles Chumchal and Dory Chan-Paez gather in front of the architecture building as they prepare to take the Campus Accessibility Tour. | Robert Z. Easely/The Daily Cougar

The UH Center for Students with Disabilities and the College of Architecture worked with collaborating groups to host the Campus Accessibility Tour on Wednesday in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture Atrium, offering students and staff the opportunity to experience what people with disabilities deal with every day.

“I’m here to learn about how hard it is for disabled people to move about and to make decisions about designing buildings with accessibility,” architecture senior Victor Rivas said.

Volunteers were on hand to help students with the tour, which was divided into two parts, with one group using wheelchairs and the other using a blindfold and cane.

“In past years the event hasn’t been so successful, so we have been trying to get involvement on campus so we can have a better turn out,” said volunteer Lauren Roberts, an architecture senior and an SGA senator for the college.

“The reason why I wanted to do this is because I think as designers, it is very important for us to understand how people get through spaces, whether they have a disability or not, and it’s good to understand how people get about in a wheelchair whether it’s for their whole life or for a short period of time,” Roberts said.

Participants in the wheelchair section traveled in and out of the building, and were asked to travel to a nearby restroom and into an auditorium.

“It’s hard to push yourself in a wheelchair,” Rivas said. “The hardest part was opening doors.”

Representatives from the Department of Assistive Rehabilitation Services were present and contributed information regarding services for the blind as they helped the volunteers in the visually impaired section.

“What we do as part of the community is bring awareness — we have worked with the University on several different capacities through the disabilities office,” Steve Moskowits, a volunteer with DARS, said.

“They (non-impaired people) can look out for barriers, keep paths clear; they can also be helpful but not too helpful.”

As the blindfolded participants walked about the atrium, they were guided and given tips on how to effectively use the cane to feel the space ahead of them without hurting themselves.

“It’s hard to be blind,” architecture senior Sheryl Joy said. “It takes a lot of work and this makes you appreciate being able to see.”

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