Making Strides towards Accessibility

Access Team chairperson Erin walks towards Giesy Hall with yellow lab guide dog Opie.

Soon after the merger occurred, a group of staff, faculty, students and community members gathered to address the ongoing need for accessibility at our seminary. In our conversations and dreaming, we discovered that there are many different forms of disability, not just the ones that can be seen on the outside and our community needed to look at our campus and culture through a different lens. We submitted a proposal of tangible, inexpensive dreams to the Administrative Council who gave us the green light on many of these projects.

Thanks to the work of our Access Team and our Maintenance Crew, all bathrooms on campus are now single use and gender neutral. As illustrated in the picture, our walkways are clear of barriers so that people with physical impairments may access Giesy Hall and the Chapel with ease. The lighting in the chapel has been redone to include more earth-friendly lights which are actually brighter and do not need to be changed as often. We provide large print programs for all chapel services and events. At most of our events open to the public we will provide a wheelchair accessible portable bathroom. And so much more!

Our dreams have been expanded since we invited Wendy Jimenez, Assistant Director of Academic Services for Disability Support Services at California Lutheran University to lead a workshop on our campus. Her time was divided among various constituent groups in order to give them direct resources and information on providing access for people with disabilities. Wendy talked with faculty about making assignments, test-taking and class presentations accessible. She talked with staff about what else can be done to make our campus accessible. There was also time with the entire community to learn about definitions and etiquette when interacting with people with disabilities.

This is only the beginning for our seminary. We plan to have Wendy return every year to work with us since her visit was such a success. The Access Team is continuing to dream and work on fundraising in order to purchase a shuttle van with a wheelchair lift, purchase ramps for some of our older buildings on campus and many other ideas. We are continually working with the Associate Dean for Student Formation on our campus to enhance our website resources and academic accessibility offerings based on what we have learned from the Disability Support Services office in Thousand Oaks.

If you have suggestions for the Access Team on ways to make our seminary more accessible, would like to contribute resources or have any questions, please contact me at ehorne@plts.edu.

-Erin Horne
Access Team Chairperson

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