Friday, December 17, 2010

University Near Completing Disabled Accessibility

Disability advocates said the University of Missouri is just shy of complete disabled accessibility almost two decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed. The ADA took effect in 1992 but prior to that, getting around MU was a struggle for the disabled. MU was founded in 1839 and many of the original buildings still exist today.
“I think the general access just getting to several buildings was a big issue here,” ADA Center Executive Director, James De Jong said.

The Great Plains ADA Center is located in Columbia. De Jong said he remembers Faurot Field before it was renovated with the notion of disabled accessibility. He was told he had a spot to sit, but it wasn’t the best.
“Yeah you can get in, but sit under the scoreboard,” De Jong said.

Former State Senator Chuck Graham also works for the Great Plains ADA Center now. Graham grew up in Louisiana, Missouri. He began using a wheelchair in 1981.
“When I did my campus visit, the attitude was well, if you come here, we’ll deal with your problems,” Graham said. “And I didn’t see the fact that they didn’t have a ramp into a building or only two accessible dorms as my problem. I saw that as their problem.”

Graham decided to attend the University of Illinois instead of MU.
Aimee Wehmeier is the director of the Services for Independent Living in Columbia. Wehmeier has muscular dystrophy. In 1989, she came for her first visit to MU and met Carma Messerli, MU’s Disability Services Coordinator. Messerli also has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair.

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