Homework For Ithaca College Students:Move About Campus In Wheelchairs To Learn About Barriers And Empathy

ITHACA, NY — “While you’re doing this assignment, keep in mind that the wheelchairs you’ll be using may be uncomfortable, but they’re industry standard,” Ithaca College professor of recreation and leisure studies Judy Kennison tells students in her “Understanding Disability” class. “Most people in this country don’t have access to high-end wheelchairs. What you’ll be getting in this assignment is a very accurate picture of a typical wheelchair experience.”

Entitled “Barrier Experiences,” the assignment will require students to break up into pairs, sign out wheelchairs, and make assigned trips to the registrar’s office, an ATM, the campus General Store, and other frequently visited places across campus. An errand that would normally take 10 minutes by foot could require an hour in a wheelchair. Kennison also assigned the students industrial ear plugs, which they will wear for 24 hours to simulate the experience of hearing impairment. When the barrier assignments are complete, the students will write up their experiences in a three-page paper.

“Be specific in how the barriers you encounter affect your relationships with other people,” Kennison told her students. “Be attentive also to the details of how not being able to do the things most people take for granted makes you feel. For many of you, these new experiences will be eye-opening.”

In addition to giving students the ability to empathize with people with cognitive, mental, and physical disabilities, Kennison’s class seeks to help students to avoid stereotypes while learning about treatment, interventions, rehabilitative services and assisted technologies for people with disabilities. Open to students of all majors, the course is required for students majoring in recreation and leisure services.

Originally published in News Releases: Homework For Ithaca College Students: Move About Campus In Wheelchairs To Learn About Barriers And Empathy.