May 28, 2017.
Some of the braille signs that allow the visually impaired students to move around campus have been fixed, while others are still waiting to be either repaired or simply enhanced. Two previous articles (one in October 2016 and one in Febraury 2016) discussed the opportunity to label in braille not only the room number but also what the room is used for, and although it has been done for the bathrooms in the C building, now showing in braille not only the room number but also that it’s a restroom and if it’s for female or male use, other doors would still benefit from such improvement.
The John A. Sexton Auditorium for example has only the room number in braille (one of which is getting old because of usage) and, as suggested last year by a visually impaired student Jane Suh, it would be helpful if her fingers would be able to read what the room is used for, and not just its number.
The Courier sat with Mark Sakata, teacher specialist and co-advisor of Students Unlimited, to learn when and if students can expect this kind of enhancement.
Is PCC going to add description of what the room is used for other than writing its number in braille’s signs?
Things are already in compliance, but we want to go beyond what the standards are, beyond what the law requires, which is kind of cool, because then we are addressing things in a welcoming kind of way. I would be up for something like that, to look around and see if there are ways we can enhance meaning that’s there, not just the number of the room but what that room is used for. Things like that.
Are you planning to do that?
Yes, we have a working group now that reports to the campus Facility and Sustainability Committee, where we can make recommendations based on what we see. It’s neat because it’s involving the consumers, so the students.
Have you already made the recommendation?
Not yet. We are going to do that.
Does the Committee meet once a month?
Yes, once a month.
Are they meeting in June?
Yes. We will also be talking about universal design to make the campus welcoming to anybody. For example, in the classroom, [there could be] someone pregnant, or [someone who’s] large and don’t fit in their little desk. Those desks work for certain people, but there is a group of people that it doesn’t work for, like larger people or people with back problems. Those people might not have disabilities but they should still have the availability to walk into a classroom and find something that will allow them to sit comfortable and pay attention to their lecture. So when they [the Committee] thinks of refurbishing a new classroom, they can include that from the beginning. That’s out long term goal.
Are you also going to discuss how PCC can enhance braille signs on campus during next meeting?
We’re still getting organized on what criteria we are going to look at as we go around. If there is a sign on a door that says “Knock before entering,” that’s probably important to know, or for a certain lab, we could identify what lab that is. But you can also go online and see what room is the lab in, and then you can navigate the campus. The classroom schedule is accessible for everyone but it would be nice to have a label on top of that that says what that rooms is used for […] For now we are trying to work on a systematic approach. We are going to collect informations on a spreadsheet and we haven’t decided yet what are the things we are going to look at. We must decide what are those rooms on campus where it makes sense, where we would like additional information for the user. We tried walking around and jotting things down on a piece of paper, but it wasn’t organized. We are going to work on that.
Can you offer a timeframe on when you’ll be ready to make the recommendation?
For next meeting with the Committee on June 28.