Speaking Out

Testing Accessibility

The test of whether "Penn has succeeded in making most of the campus accessible to individuals with disabilities," as Omar Blaik claimed in the May 2, 2000 issue of Almanac, is a test I give Penn everyday. In the six years I've been on campus, Penn has failed the test repeatedly.

Several of the improvements cited in Mr. Blaik's letter are the result of a formal complaint by a disabled student to the U.S. Department of Education, which covered six buildings. Compliance with this complaint diverted the $150,000 flat fee that Penn budgets (3/4 of 1 % of the total budget) for ALL requests for access. As a result, the top priority repair of the elevators in Williams, a priority set by the Architectural Barrier Removal and Prevention Committee in 1996, was postponed again.

The official response on access issues is metaphorically similar to paying someone to rape you, then being told to be grateful that he had the grace to buy and use a condom.

--Sigrid Peterson, ABD Religious Studies

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues can be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 33, May 16, 2000

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