Students Seek Insight into World of Handicapped

Post a Comment » Written on December 22nd, 2005     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (December 22, 2005)  – A group of students at North Park  Theological Seminary have experienced first-hand some of the challenges  faced by many handicapped individuals. The students decided to attend  classes while confined to wheelchairs to help them better understand and  appreciate the world of those coping with physical limitations.

“It was quite an awakening,” says Christina Tinglof.  “Quite humbling.  Quite humiliating.”

Tinglof and other members of the “Spiritual Formation: From Hostility to  Hospitality” class, working in groups, were assigned to research how the  church can be more welcoming to people who feel excluded. Tinglof had  observed that there is no direct wheelchair access to other areas of the  seminary building from the first floor – the older building does not  have an elevator.

However, a transport system is in place as part of the stairwell system  that allows handicapped students and faculty to transfer from a  wheelchair to a special chair affixed to a motorized track that  transports them up and down the different stairways. One challenge is  that some wheelchair-bound individuals are unable to lift themselves  from their chair to the rail system and back into the wheelchair without  assistance.

“You still have to have someone put you in the wheelchair, “says  Tinglof. “Someone had to carry my book bag. Someone had to carry my  chair.” She says she found the process to be time-consuming and observed  that while people were assisting her, at times they were hindering  access by other individuals to the stairs and landings.

The same assisting actions had to be carried out each time she traveled  from one floor to the next, she noted. A trip up inevitably meant a trip  back down. “It gave me a sense of hopelessness, of having no control,”  Tinglof says.

Tinglof says her day was made even more difficult when she discovered  that the second-floor bathroom was not wheelchair accessible, and the  drinking fountains could not be used by someone who is wheelchair-bound.

The seminary building is an older structure. Installation of an elevator  has been considered, but retrofitting an elevator as part of an existing  older structure also represents a very large expense – more than $1  million by some estimates. In response to the inherent limitations of  the building, the seminary seeks to accommodate handicapped students by  arranging for their classes to be conducted on the first floor.

Tinglof says she hopes the experience will encourage future discussion  on what accommodations can be made. “This was very new for me,” says  Tinglof. “I’ve never worked with handicapped before. It was very  eye-opening.” Other students who participated in the project were  Deborah Penny, Adam Phillips, and Aaron Olson.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog