While FGCU is the second-newest university to grace the presence of the State University System of Florida, that doesn’t mean the educational institution is lacking when it comes to accommodating students of all kinds.
The Office of Adaptive Services, located in the newly renovated building that was previously the Wellness Center, assists students with various disabilities when they are on campus.
“They’ve helped me with my accommodations and got me acclimated to the school,” said Mollie Zieper, a sophomore social work major who uses a wheelchair. “I’ve gotten more used to living on my own here.”
Zieper visited a few other schools before deciding that FGCU was the perfect fit for her.
“I only visited a couple of other schools,” Zieper said. “In regards to accessibility, they were fine. However, when I came here and toured, this seemed to me to be the most accessible school for me in regards to my disability.”
Zieper served as a Program Parent Assistant during Eagle View Orientation this past summer, and she was given accommodations by both the school and her co- workers.
“They gave me a wheelchair-accessible room, and two of my co-
workers had cars,” Zieper said. “I didn’t have one, and they were kind enough to transport me and my wheelchair every day.”
The office’s mission statement, as stated on its website, describes as its overall goal “to enhance access for students, faculty, staff and guests with disabilities by providing effective reasonable accommodations through educating the campus community and providing equal access and opportunity.”
Adaptive Services provides students who are in need of accommodations with several options to help them succeed on campus. If needed, students can receive more time to complete exams, be provided books in an alternative format and be assigned note takers as well as Sign Language interpreters.
Each building on campus is wheelchair accessible, and residence halls have several accessible rooms equipped with pull strings in case of emergency situations and access to elevators as well as flashing and audible emergency devices.
In addition to accommodations in residence halls as well as academic buildings, Adaptive Services provides handicapped parking spaces located in each lot.
Physics and Astronomy professor Michael Fauerbach also needs a wheelchair and believes that there are some flaws in regards to FGCU accessibility.
“The new garage, which is connected via covered walkways to some of the buildings, helps, but there is only a limited amount of accessible parking,” Fauerbach said. “On the other hand, the campus is new, therefore there are no issues with retrofitting 100-year-old buildings.” Fauerbach, who has taught at FGCU for more than a decade, credits the school’s modern architecture to his ability to move across campus.
“As far as mobility is concerned, the campus is flat, which is great,” Fauerbach said. “I have been to Berkeley, and the only wheelchairs I saw there were power chairs. It is just too steep otherwise.”
Fauerbach explained that at other universities, those with disabilities would have trouble finding easier ways to enter buildings and move from point A to point B.
“We (FGCU) skipped those grandiose staircase entrances that you find at some universities; you enter all buildings on level floor,” Fauerbach said.
“That is a big difference to some other universities where you have to search for the handicapped entrance.”
Before a new building is available for students at FGCU, the Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Committee, a division of the Office of Adaptive Services, does a walk through and determines what needs to be fixed before its official opening.
“As the university continues to grow, new issues will certainly come with it,” Fauerbach said. “There are always issues, but hopefully we will continue to address them as they arise.”