Concerns emerge over ADA desk use

Some faculty members and students have treated efforts to assist handicapped students with disregard.

Bob Harrington, director of the physical plant, recently installed American Disability Association desks in the classrooms that better fit the students.

“At the beginning of every semester, we get a list from Melissa Locher in the learning center and she identifies those students that have requested special accommodations,” Harrington said.

Harrington said the custodians then put desks and chairs in classrooms specifically for those students. The desks have been placed near the classroom entrances making it easier for the students to get to.

While the desks are in the classroom for the purpose of making those students more comfortable, the addition of the desks have been used for other purposes.

Harrington said an occasional problem is either the faculty or other students will move the desks around the class which has left some students with complaints.

“We’ve had faculty actually take the desks out of the rooms and put them in their offices or take the desk up to the front of the rooms and put tests on them or papers they are going to pass out,” Harrington said.

Having spoken to some of the faculty, he said the situation has improved.

Not all disabled students have been affected by the misuse for the desk.

Philip Green, sophomore physics engineering major, said while he uses regular desk he does notice the ADA desks being used improperly.

“On occasion they’ll use them if nobody is sitting at it,” Green said. “They’ll use it to lean against or write something on.”

Charles Brock, sophomore undecided major, said he appreciates the addition of the desks because he uses them for his classes.

“I was here three semesters ago and I was just on crutches, I didn’t have a wheelchair,” Brock said. “Some classrooms had them and some didn’t, but of course I didn’t fill out the necessary paperwork to have one in there.”

When Brock had to resort to a wheelchair, he said he made sure to fill out the paperwork with Locher as his adviser. He said he makes sure to keep in touch should he need anything.

He said the biggest problem he has run into with the ADA desks is obstacles getting to them. Brock said sometimes when he comes into class students, will be gathered in front of class for whatever reason and he has to force his way through to his seat.

“It’s just a hassle especially when you are already late to class to come in and move everything around just to get to where you’re going,” he said.

Both Brock and Green said they feel overall Southern is doing a good job of catering to the needs of disabled students.

Harrington said there is not anything new in the works at the moment for disabled students at Southern, but he is open to any suggestions.

“If they let us know and there is something we can do, we will do it,” he said. “We go out of our way to do anything we can.”