How SNU Can Provide Better Support for Disabled Students
A Conference Hosted by the Disabled Students Support Center (Part 2)
This is the conclusion of the article on the conference hosted by the Disabled Students Support Center (the Center). In the previous article, the participants discussed how SNU has changed to better accommodate disabled students in the last decade. Starting from where they left off, in this article, the participants will talk about the direction SNU has to take in order to further promote accessibility for students with disabilities.
The participants of the conference are JEONG So Ra (a staff person at the SNU Disabled Students Support Center), SONG In Gu (a community service officer working at the Center), KIM Sang Yeon (a student volunteer for disabled students), KIM Geon (a visually handicapped student), and HA Tae Wu (a physically disabled student in a wheelchair).
What Should SNU Still Change to Further Support Disabled Students?
Convener: Nonetheless, there are still problems to be solved, aren't there?
JEONG: First of all, due to a lack of information, I'm afraid some disabled students don't even know of the existence of the Disabled Students Support Center. Usually, the Center conducts an orientation every semester and meets students. Many of the students haven't heard of the Center before then. Also, the Center is located where the Foreigner Support Center used to be, so some people get confused. Before anything, SNU needs to promote the Center and raise people's awareness of its existence. I also want to
add that we greatly need instruments that the visually impaired students can use. Currently, there are two completely blind students at SNU, one in the College of Law and the other in the College of Music. They need special textbooks and music scores.
SONG: My main job is to provide transportation for disabled students. In the morning, many students need help at the same time so I am very busy. For example, I need to get three students to their respective classes on time. Sometimes, a problem occurs when helping the first student, so the last student gets to class late.
KIM Sang Yeon: I started volunteering to help the disabled students in 2010. Before I started working as a volunteer, I hadn't noticed how SNU had changed to accommodate disabled students. Now, I see the problems arising from small things. For example, in some buildings, students in wheelchairs can only access the second floor, but not the first floor. I believe the university has the capacity to fix these problems, but my concern is that the university doesn't seriously consider the students’ needs.
KIM Geon: The orientation for student volunteers who take notes for the disabled students needs to be enhanced. Right now, the interaction between disabled students and their volunteers is awkward. The orientation and the volunteer evaluation system should be redesigned according to how volunteers perceive disabled students and focus on how disabled students can get help more efficiently. In addition, the lecture room signs are too small. The size of the letters needs to be enlarged for enhanced legibility.
SNU Needs to Focus on the Details of Students' Campus Mobility Needs
Convener: For students like Ha Tae Woo, it must be hard to move around freely on campus.
Kim: Once, when I was taking the same class with Ha Tae Woo on the first floor of Building 28, the beam projector broke and the class was moved to the third floor. We couldn't think of an easy way to access this new location, so we went out to the main road and circled around the College of Natural Sciences to get to class. The transport system should be improved further to make more efficient ways to access buildings. In cases like Building 28, the disabled students experience great inconvenience because they
can't directly access a section of the building due to the lack of ramps and elevators.
HA: All in all, I don't face huge difficulties when it comes to moving around on campus. Also, I know for a fact that it takes lots of time and money to renovate old buildings, so I understand that the students need to put up with minor inconveniences. However, there is a major problem when students in wheelchairs come across raised sidewalks with no access ramps. In these cases, the students use the road for vehicles, which is very dangerous.
JEONG: When designing the buildings and facilities, please consider the pattern of how the students actually move. Just following the legal requirements doesn’t mean the users will be satisfied. I wish the center and the disabled students could participate in the process of designing the facilities, so that there wouldn't be problems in the future. Also, there isn't a sidewalk connecting the dormitory and the College of Business Administration. The dormitory three-way intersection is the most dangerous place
frequented by disabled students, which is why the community service officer himself accompanies the students there. There are so many crosswalks without traffic lights on campus. These are problems that need to be fixed.
Disabled Students and Faculty Should Collaborate
KIM Sang Yeon: Professors need to pay special attention to disabled students during exams. For example, please help the visually impaired students prepare exam questions in Braille beforehand. There are no specific school rules regarding exams for disabled students, so every time a student takes a test he has to explain himself to the professor.
JEONG: If the professors give class materials to the Center, we can make special textbooks for the disabled students. We have asked newly appointed professors to cooperate with us at orientations, but it seems that hasn't been working.
KIM Geon: It is my wish that the disabled students gather to discuss and realize what they can independently do and cannot do. Then, the students should ask the university to aid them with the things they can't do autonomously. When we take these support services for granted, we stop looking after our rights, and people will perceive disabled students as passive and unengaged. Also, when it comes to exchanging help, disabled students are always on the receiving end. This is why the disabled students often can't
grasp the real meaning of helping others and can't think of volunteers as individuals, instead of mere tools.
For further information on disabled students support services and volunteer work opportunities, contact the Disabled Students Support Center (02-880-8787) or visit their website (http://snudanbi.snu.ac.kr).
Written by JANG Hyo Jeong, SNU English Editor, email@example.com
Reviewed by Eli Park Sorensen, SNU Professor of Liberal Studies, firstname.lastname@example.org
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor, email@example.com
SNU NOW / Newsroom