The Edmond Sun

April 7, 2014

UCO students empathize with the visually impaired

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Monday morning, University of Central Oklahoma student Luis Morales grabbed a white cane, strapped on a blindfold and made his way to the start of a sort of obstacle course.

Shelley Smith, an interpreter specialist with UCO’s Disability Support Services, gave Morales verbal and physical assistance as he went through the course. Using his cane and other senses, he avoided a garden hose, wooden blocks, a bicycle rack and a ladder. Mid-way through he climbed some steps.

Afterward, Morales said the course was challenging, slower than he thought it would be.

“I thought it would be a lot easier,” he said.

Nearby, volunteer Chelsea Couch was helping blindfolded Rachel Conyac work her way through a puzzle.

Alma and Jeanne, two yellow Labrador retrievers and their handlers from A New Leash on Life, were drawing attention as students passed by on the sidewalk. Information about UCO Disability Support Services was available on a table.

UCO’s Students for an Accessible Society is presenting its annual Disability Awareness Week from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 7-10. Monday’s theme was visual impairment.

Tracey Romano, an executive assistant in UCO’s office of Institutional Effectiveness, said the hope is the event will foster understanding of the challenges people living with disabilities face.

Other events will be:

• Today Hidden Disabilities: Participants will learn about hidden disabilities like learning disabilities and hearing impairments. Tests and games will simulate various learning disability challenges and a hearing loss simulation kit will be available to identify challenges the hearing-impaired face.

• Wednesday Agency and Service Provider Fair: Agencies that serve those with disabilities will be on campus to provide participants the opportunity to interact with various assistive technology devices and share how technology is making information more accessible to those with disabilities.

• Thursday Mobility Impairments: Participants will complete physical challenges including maneuvering a wheelchair through a maze.

UCO Disability Support Services include note-taking assistance, exam accommodations, alternate text format, accessibility accommodations, permission to record class lectures, individualized suggestions for accommodations in the classroom and special tables and chairs. | 341-2121

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