Last month, PSU News wrote a feature entitled, The ADA at 30: Disability Services Grows Up at PSU, which highlighted the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and the experience of disabled students at PSU 30 years after the ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The DRC has grown tremendously to serve a significant portion of students with disabilities at PSU, an estimated 11% of all students based on national averages. The article also noted that accessibility is a shared responsibility, not limited to the DRC and HR, but held by all who serve the PSU community. As such, in addition to individual accommodations, the DRC advocates for universal design to address potential barriers and proactively remove obstacles that impede the full participation of all students. The DRC is proud to share the combined efforts of the PSU community toward accessibility has received national recognition: PSU is ranked #12 among colleges and universities in the U.S. for students who use wheelchairs by New Mobility Magazine, a publication dedicated to wheelchair users.
New Mobility Magazine initiated email surveys with 400 institutions and interviewed staff and student representatives of a select number of these institutions that seemed to meet their strict criteria. The end result was a list of 20 top institutions that the magazine recommends for wheelchair users. Tim Gilmer, the editor of the magazine and author of the article on PSU, described PSU as a “city campus with an inclusive, diverse culture” (p. 45). Gilmer interviewed a DRC staff member and two of our students who use wheelchairs. Gilmer highlighted the campus’s physical accessibility including the urban location, easy transportation, sky bridges, and ample parking. One student noted that they appreciated the DRC’s Safe(r) Space to study and access accessible technology. Another student said that they rely on specific, helpful accommodations such as digital textbooks. Gilmer complemented the DRC’s holistic approach that strikes a balance between assisting individual student needs while respecting their autonomy, especially when in-class supports. Gilmer also addressed life outside the classroom. The potential for students to use their personal care attendants and overall housing options were noteworthy. In addition, he suggested that student social spaces, such as coffee shops and the Viking Gameroom, add to PSU’s draw. Finally, Gilmer echoed one of the interviewed students' praise of the adaptive equipment as well as the many opportunities for outdoor recreation at PSU’s Campus Rec.
The combined efforts of many departments and individuals have earned PSU the distinction of being ranked 12th in the nation for students using wheelchairs. The DRC is thankful to the entire campus community and everyone at Global Diversity and Inclusion who have made our university stand out as a place that cares about the experience of disabled students and continually works to improve upon that experience.