What do you think of when you hear accessibility?
Do you think of special parking spots? Braille signs and guide dogs? Do you think of disabilities, a friend or family member — or yourself?
If you have not thought a lot about disabilities before, accessibility can feel like a far-off thing only building planners and information technology (IT) folks need to think about. But really, accessibility is something we can all participate in: making sure everyone is able to bring their whole selves to the table.
Students with disabilities have just as much to offer as any other student — sometimes, they even have more empathy, understanding, tenacity and teaching skills than other students. Our whole community is better off when we include them in every aspect of the Biola experience.
Barriers All Around Us
Most of the world is designed for a mythical “normal” and does not always work for people who have different levels of ability.
For example, a round doorknob lets people with good grip strength get in, but might be really difficult for someone who:
has joint pain
was born missing fingers
has a broken wrist
uses crutches or a wheelchair
is carrying something bulky
The round doorknob is a barrier for them, and replacing it with a lever knob or pushbar would remove the barrier.
These kinds of barriers exist all around us — low-contrast text that is hard to read, videos without captions, lectures or talks that go on for an hour with no break to catch up on notes or ask questions.
College is already a busy and challenging season of life. We do not want students with disabilities to have to deal with additional barriers complicating their everyday experience.
What Can I Do?
We all have a role to play in creating an environment that allows all students to participate and thrive together.
The first step is to learn what to look for. Listen to your friends and fellow students when they share their experiences. The more we talk about disability and learn from each other, the better we will become at creating environments that allow everyone to thrive.
If you encounter something that isn’t accessible, let us know! The Learning Center and Biola IT are working to make sure all of our digital resources, websites, videos and online experiences are accessible to everyone. However, sometimes we miss things, so we appreciate your help in building a completely accessible campus!
The Learning Center
The Learning Center exists to remove barriers from classrooms and promote student success so all of Biola’s students can study, learn and grow alongside each other.
They provide individualized accommodation plans for students diagnosed with medical, psychological, learning or physical conditions.
They also provide tutoring and academic mentors for any student.
To learn more, visit the Learning Center’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When we work together to create an environment that welcomes all students, whether or not they have disabilities or impairments, we make it possible to truly fellowship with one another and grow and learn together as the body of Christ. It takes us a step closer to being united in spirit and intent on our shared mission, even as we are all different.