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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    DRC gets around

    With its flat pathways and warm weather, the UA, unofficially, is one of the best schools for disability resources and accommodations, said Disability Resource Center director Sue Kroeger.

    “”We like to self-report that we’re No. 1,”” Kroeger said. “”In a lot of ways I think the UA is viewed nationally by colleagues, mostly in the field, as more like one of the best.””

    The DRC is a big attraction to students from all over the country, especially to those with impaired sight or who use wheelchairs, Kroeger said. The mild climate and physical terrain make it much easier for people with physical disabilities to get around.

    The DRC recognizes that modifications are necessary to ensure access to campus courses, activities, jobs, services and facilities, and they are determined to make any reasonable accommodations possible while offering competitive athletic programs, general recreation and much more, she said.

    “”Only a few other universities have something like what we have here,”” Kroeger said. “”In addition, nobody has a facility like this.””

    “”World-class”” recreation programs give as many as 2,000 students per year the chance to participate in competitive programs, in addition to fitness and recreational access, she said.

    “”Physical recreation is a big draw to folks who have to navigate a campus, physically,”” Kroeger said. “”The UA is incredibly accessible.””

    The DRC places a major emphasis on both recreational and competitive athletics, she said.

    Men and women’s wheelchair basketball head coach Derek Brown said the DRC athletic program provides its participants with lessons that stretch beyond the basketball court.

    “”The ability to work together with other people toward a common goal is something that will be a common goal or value in the lives for these students,”” Brown said. “”The fact that they’re disabled, we are happy to provide students these opportunities, the chance to participate in the athletic programs.””

    Eric Harris, an Africana studies senior said the DRC was one of the major contributing factors that led him to attend the UA.

    “”I knew I wanted to play wheelchair basketball in college,”” Harris said. “”Out of all the schools with teams, Arizona had the best weather for me, the coach was someone I trusted, I loved the team, and I knew it was going to be academically challenging.””

    Harris, who has been a member of the men’s wheelchair basketball team since his freshman year, said he looked at other schools with similar resource centers before choosing the UA.

    “”I knew about the DRC before I got here and some of the other schools with teams had something similar,”” Harris said. “”Arizona’s is by far the best, with the most high-tech equipment and people who support their disabled students.””

    In terms of his academic experience, Harris said the most beneficial thing the DRC offers has been its classroom resources such as tutoring, study habits help and differential test taking.

    One common misunderstanding students have is that the DRC has a direct affiliation with the UA Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center.

    “”We serve a very high number of students with hidden disabilities: psychiatric, learning, Attention Deficit Disorder, among others. That is the growing group on most college campuses,”” Kroeger said.

    “”SALT does not require the mandated services that the law requires we do. So if a student is registered with SALT, the student is also registered here at the DRC,”” she said. However, a student with a physical disability does not have to affiliate themselves with SALT if they do not need to.””

    Harris said that when he was choosing a school, he felt it was important for a university to have a physical and human infrastructure that knew how to accommodate people with physical disabilities.

    “”I knew, as a disabled student, I wanted to be in a situation where the school knew what to do when it came to students like me,”” Harris said. “”I didn’t want to have to fight and argue with administration while I’m trying to deal with classes and other things.””

    Kroeger said the term “”disability”” is defined in its broadest sense.

    “”We really define and conceptualize ‘disability’ differently now than old thinking,”” she said. “”For example, we really try to reframe it from the deficit model to a more sociopolitical mode. We are all socialized to think disability is a deficit, a negative frame. What we have been trying to do is reframe that into showing others it’s a difference, not a deficit.””

    Kroeger said the DRC is constantly looking for new ways to adapt to the needs of its students.

    “”We try to keep our focus on, ‘How do we redesign the environment to alleviate the need for individuals to need accommodations?'”” Kroeger said. “”Instead of steps, we redesign a building so there is one level and everyone goes (into) it together. That is the physical environment. We also try to do things in the curriculum. When the faculty give exams, how can we help faculty design those exams so students don’t have to come over here to take their tests separately?””

    Kroeger said the work that the university has done to accommodate students, with a wide array of disabilities, is outstanding.

    “”There is such a long, rich history relative to disabilities. People here seem to support, embrace and welcome it. It’s a disability-friendly, disability-appreciative place.””

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