University website to request community feedback on campus disability services

As a Marshall University student who uses a wheelchair, Caleb Arbaugh said he has, at times, avoided taking classes or scheduling meetings in Morrow Library because he cannot independently operate the building’s first floor lift.

Arbaugh, a junior computer and information technology major, said he could go through the back of Morrow, in order to use the elevator, but the buttons are too high for him to easily access.

“Inaccessibility is a disabled student’s worst nightmare,” Arbaugh said.

A new website Marshall employees are working to develop by the beginning of the fall semester will allow members of the Marshall community, like Arbaugh, to submit online complaints and concerns they have about inaccessibility for disabled people on campus, said Stephanie Ballou, director of Marshall’s Office of Disability Services.

It is hard for one person to take care of everything or know what needs done, Ballou said.

The university, the Physical Plant and the Office of Disability Services conduct a walk-through of campus at least once a month to assess any problem areas that need attention, but they still rely heavily on student and faculty input, she said.

Through the new website, Marshall students, staff and faculty will be able to submit complaints and concerns, and these submissions can remain anonymous.

Additionally, the committee that oversees ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliancy on campus hopes to add maps to the website that show accessibility points, Ballou said.

“Every physically impaired student has their own experience, and we all travel different routes throughout campus,” Arbaugh said.

Ballou said the committee consists of “academics, safety, police — (Marshall University Police Chief) Jim Terry is on the committee—, Physical Plant, the athletic director of sports facilities, Housing, Office of Disabilities and a faculty member who oversees online.”

The committee aims to cover all areas of campus life so those serving on the committee are aware of who they are representing and students know who they can contact, Ballou said.

Arbaugh said he has heard rumors about the website and now he is eager to learn more about it or to even get more involved in the process.

“Marshall University is the most accessible university in the state of West Virginia, without question, but there is still work to be done,” Arbaugh said.

The goal is to have the website up and running by the end of this semester, and, at the latest, it will be up by the beginning of the fall 2019 semester, Ballou said.

Makaylah Wheeler can be contacted at w[email protected].