Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Proactivite approach needed for accessibility

Junior Rachel Nepper navigates the snowy sidewalk  in front of Roseman Hall in her wheelchair.
Junior Rachel Nepper navigates the snowy sidewalk in front of Roseman Hall in her wheelchair.

UW-Whitewater has long been known as one of the most accessible campuses in Wisconsin. It is known for taking strides to accommodate all students, regardless of impairments.

While our university prides itself on being particularly accessible to students with various impairments, there are many areas in which it could improve.

By being proactive and addressing possible problems before they arise, UW-Whitewater can truly become a flagship school for accessibility.

With the help of junior Rachel Nepper, who is familiar with accessibility issues from her own wheelchair use, we have assembled a list of areas of improvement the university should consider in regard to accessibility.

Snow removal

In the Wisconsin winter season, classes aren’t canceled on account of a few inches of snow. For students who use wheelchairs and scooters to travel across campus, poorly shoveled walkways can be especially dangerous.

By ensuring that the various paths across campus are shoveled or plowed before students have to start their trek to class, our university would make it safer and easier for all students to get where they need to be.

Nepper also suggested creating a program where volunteers would be available to help students with wheelchairs or scooters shovel out their cars on snowy days or to help if they get stuck in the snow.

Classrooms and residence halls

Many classrooms don’t have wheelchair-friendly desks. Sometimes the arrangement of classroom furniture can make it difficult for a student with mobility or vision impairment to navigate around the room.

One way to solve classroom-related accessibility issues would be to develop a checklist of issues and solutions and apply it to every classroom on campus.

In the residence halls, a way to improve accessibility would be to install adjustable shelving so students can adjust things to the height that works best for them.

Currently, Fischer Hall residents can request for shelving to be lowered. These types of options should be available and advertised to students in all residence halls.


To make each building the most accessible it can be, each one should have more than one wheelchair-friendly entrance.

All bathrooms and doorways should also be accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Currently, the main floor of the library has no wheelchair accessible bathrooms. There is no reason why the bathrooms in one of the most-used buildings on campus shouldn’t be able to accommodate anyone who might need to use them.

Finally, ramps or back up plans should be instituted in buildings with elevators and students should be educated about what to do in event of a fire or other emergency where elevator use may not be safe.

Other areas

Addressing issues facing students with mobility or vision impairments isn’t the only way our campus could improve its overall accessibility.

By requiring all movies shown on campus to be captioned, our university could improve accessibility for deaf or hard of hearing students.

Additionally, offering sign language as a language credit could help all students understand what it is like for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and teach communication skills that many companies look for in potential employees.

Although there are areas that could be improved, UW-Whitewater  (especially through the Center for Students with Disabilities) does a good job of accommodating students with various impairments.

Our campus offers a number of things other campuses don’t, including disability parking, disability athletics and classes about disability.

A willingness to help is perhaps the most important thing our university offers students. Various departments assist students with academics and help them find jobs after college.

While our campus does well in many areas of accessibility, there is obvious room for improvement. We hope to see the same positive changes that occured after the publication of former Royal Purple staff member Katherine Watson’s article about the need for braille labels in Starin Hall. Blind for her entire life, Watson addressed a much needed issue involving accessibility, to which the university responded. Let the voices of those most affected by university accessibility be heard.

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Founded 1901
Proactivite approach needed for accessibility