Construction causes obstructions for students with disabilities

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Delia De Luna, senior generalist of the disability support services Feb. 22, 2017. Photo by Brianna Rodrigue

Disability support services, administration and students work to find solutions.

By Jakoby West

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Construction around Moody Learning Center is causing problems for students who use disability support services.

Vanessa Torres, director of public relations, said in an interview Feb. 17 the construction is in response to making Moody more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as the covered canopy over the east side entrance.

But there have been some issues with accessibility for students with disabilities.

The center for disability support services, known as DSS, is on the first floor of Moody Learning Center, in the middle of the construction.

“Right now, there is a lot of construction going on throughout, so we do try to advise our students the best way to get around on campus and especially in this general area,” Delia De Luna, DSS senior generalist-student success, said in an interview Jan. 30.

The DSS office was moved several years ago to Moody from the more accessible Room 124 of Chance Academic Center.

“Students did voice their displeasure of coming down here because of accessibility, but with anything else we try our best. We do what we can for our students to make it as accessible as possible,” she said.

The construction has caused more problems than just accessibility. Students who use DSS can use labs located in the office to receive extra help or take tests, but the construction noise has made it difficult for students to concentrate.

“One semester because the noise was so bad, we asked on behalf of our students if construction could halt for just a little bit because during finals week we are very busy here with a lot of students testing,” De Luna said.

The college administration is aware of the issues disabled students have with the construction and is working closely with disability support services to find solutions, De Luna said.

“Administration is aware of the situation. We have a new vice president of college services. She is aware. She’s coming up to speed with access issues,” De Luna said, referring to Dr. Stella Lovato, who assumed the position this semester.

“She’s getting to know a little bit about what’s been going on with the construction and if students have concerns because of noise,” De Luna said.

“Students will bring issues to our attention, and then, of course, we in turn let our administration know that that has been brought to our attention,” she said.

Administration has “been very, very good” about planning for issues, posting appropriate signage and maintaining accessibility before students can bring those issues to the attention of DSS, De Luna said.

The recent construction has not been all bad for students with disabilities. A ramp leading to the DSS center was completed this semester, making the center more accessible.

Construction is also being done on campus walkways.

“Instead of having actual bricks, they are just actually laying some concrete and imprinting what looks like bricks. With this, it’s going to be smoother,” De Luna said.

Although it is challenging, De Luna is glad the construction will benefit students with disabilities in the long term.

The construction will help disabled students “focus on their abilities,” a motto of the disability support services.

If you see anything on campus that may cause issues for students with disabilities, report it to the disability support services center or call 210-486-0020. Visit www.alamo.edu/sac/disability-support-services.

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