Students and other individuals without disabilities are very important in the success of equal rights for disabled people. We are so grateful for allies who believe in equality for all.
David Pollak: Videographer of “Push to Open,” a short film about universal access at universities
As an elementary school teacher, I know that equal access to education, especially physical access, is important in fostering learning. A student faces numerous obstacles and challenges throughout their schooling career— their ability to enter a learning environment shouldn’t be one of them. In ensuring all students have the opportunity to learn and access learning environments easily, we create an atmosphere of inclusive learning.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Class of 2019
College of Education | Elementary Education
I Love Illinois Week Co-Director | Student Alumni Ambassadors
Social Media Coordinator | UIUC Best Buddies
I started the project to make BYU more accessible to students with disabilities, initially to be involved. When I was told about all of the projects available, I was really excited when I heard about this project. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to join the committee. I am a nursing student and love seeing others excel. My life's mission statement is to help individuals become self-reliant and improve their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This project aligns right up with this mission statement. What a blessing it is to attend BYU and I am passionate about helping each student have an enriching experience while attending here. By doing our best to help students with disabilities feel more comfortable on campus and to excel in their education, despite their limitations, I believe we are fulfilling the call given through the hymn, "Lord, I would Follow Thee":
‘I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother's keeper--‘
What an honor it is to be a part of this council, meeting such stalwart individuals, who have the same vision to help BYU become more accessible for those with disabilities. I invite you to learn more about the projects being undertaken to make this vision a reality and how you can best get involved.
Cameron Stoker: Creator of Speech Cloud
Our mission is to level the academic playing field for the deaf and hard of hearing community. I noticed a fellow classmate struggling to keep up in class because the transcription she recieved was delayed. I was surprised a better solution didn't already exist and began researching current solutions. I quickly learned there wasn't a solution and I wanted to help. Speech Cloud was then born. The software is a transcription and voice recording platform for students in the deaf and hard of hearing community. The software records and amplifies the audio for those that have logged on to the service. Students follow along with the audio and text in real time and receive the transcription for later use. Universities are unwilling to provide our service at this point and time because of potential legal ramifications of a non-established service. I have had to search through word of mouth to find hard of hearing students to test our product. However, UVU was willing to let their transcribers test our service and provide feedback. BYU has also been very helpful in providing feedback. BYU spent 10 million dollars on an integrated FM system. However, this system doesn't work in every building and must be managed by the teacher. Our system is cloud based and sends the signal over wifi. The software works in any building and the teachers only need to be handed a mic at the beginning of the class that connects to the students device. Students are not singled out with bulky hardware and can connect the audio of the mic directly to their hearing aids or phone as well as follow along with the live text on their phone or laptop without any assistance.
I worked with the University Accessbility Center as an ASL/English Interpreter for several years. I was part-time and worked with Deaf undergraduate students for their course work as well as other events sponsored by BYU for students and community members.
To improve interpreting at BYU, I would suggest that there is more inservice and out service training. Interpreters are obligated to do continuing education courses and because BYU has a unique culture and student population, that requires more real-world application. I would also love to see the student's more in charge of selecting the interpreters that are most compatible and that they prefer.
Higher education is a challenge for students with disabilities. It's not enough to simply provide an interpreter, or CART services, or note taking...materials, videos, and group are rarely accessible. Education involves more than the classroom learning - the incidental learning that happens at events, in the hallway, at the dorm room, etc. How are those being accessed by students with disabilities? Start with the physical accommodations by making all videos captioned and interpreted, visually descriptive, etc. and then build into the greater framework of how they can contribute to a larger body of educational peers.
Just wanted to share a little bit about what made me decide to get involved and specifically why I was so excited to jump on board this campus accessibility project!
I’ve always had a love for service and the joy it brings to the recipients. This is my first semester at BYU and I felt very strongly that service needed to be a part of my undergrad experience!
I didn't know which part of I wanted to get involved in, so I spent some time exploring different areas to serve and none really caught my attention until I heard of this project. When I learned about the push to help improve accessibility around campus, I got super excited and felt like it was the perfect chance to serve in a meaningful capacity while being part of something truly significant. The more I learn about the project, the more passionate I become! I've started to see such a need to help improve the BYU experience for those with disabilities. Outside of campus, we see a world of heated politics and inefficient bureaucracy where so much time, energy, and resources are depleted while hardly producing favorable outcomes. Here on campus, however, I believe students can make a real difference and make meaningful changes that impact real people. This drives me to care about this initiative and it inspires me to do whatever I can to make the college experience the best it can possibly be for everyone. The project will require sacrifice and investment from many individuals, but I believe that the benefit will improve the lives of an even greater number of individuals to come.
Jade Fisher: project DEVOTIONAL ACCESS
The project first started when some members, surveying students about their devotional attendance, bumped into a student carrying a walking cane who said that she would love to be attending devotionals if it weren't for her physical limitations.
Hearing about this girl's comment made me realize just how ignorant I was. Attending weekly devotionals have made a huge impact in my life and I had no idea that there were students who wanted to go but, because of disabilities, were cut off from it. I felt that everyone should have equal access to these experiences and just this one comment helped me realize that there was a need for change...
As I continued to interact with students with disabilities and see more of what they experience on a day to day basis, I've come to know them, love them, respect them and develop an even greater passion to give them a voice and make BYU better for them. What started as a project to provide transportation to devotionals quickly turned into a larger effort to make BYU campus more accessible as a whole.
I am humbled to know and work with my friends who have disabilities; they have inspired and taught me so much! I feel like it's the least I can do to help them, and all students, have a more seamless, comfortable and fulfilling experience at BYU. I'm in a position to help and I'm so excited about that!
This topic is fairly new to me, but when my friend Jade told me about the project I was immediately intrigued. I'd wondered before what people with certain limitations did to get around campus, and had thought more than once that something could be done to improve accessibility. I saw this project as a way to not only contribute to a good cause, but also educate myself and others on the needs of our fellow students. Creating that empathy for others and actively working on their behalf has been a big motivation for me! I really believe that some of the most powerful and effective changes will and have come from the students themselves here at BYU - we're the lifeblood of the university, and as such have the potential to make it even greater than it already is.