In the fall semester, audio signals were installed at the intersection of University and College on Illinois State University’s campus. These signals assist individuals with visual disabilities in determining when it is safe to cross the street. Tammie Keney, director of Student Access and Accommodation Services (SAAS), gives credit to two individuals who were instrumental in making this installation happen.
Having visual impairments themselves, Nicole Yarmolkevich ’17 and Zach Carr expressed concern over the fear and nerves that this busy intersection can cause for students with visual impairments. For some individuals with low vision, sunny days can make it extremely difficult to see oncoming vehicles. Students often ask staff members to assist them in crossing, but when that is not an option, students must attempt to follow the crowd when crossing the street. This can make crossing a busy intersection very dangerous. Thus, Yarmolkevich and Carr made it their goal to have audio signals installed at University and College.
Yarmolkevich remembers how difficult it was crossing the street.
“Even with my guide dog, I did not feel safe,” she said. “That is when I started to advocate for the signals.”
For several years, students have partnered with staff members in SAAS, like Assistant Director Sarah Metivier, to make this happen. Metivier explained, “It’s a statement to students with disabilities that they are welcome on campus. The audio signals will also aide in recruiting students who have visual disabilities to attend Illinois State. It not only helps our students and potential students with disabilities but also students of Thomas Metcalf School and the surrounding community.”
Without the dedication of Yarmolkevich and Carr and help from key members of Illinois State’s community and the Town of Normal, this achievement would not have been possible. Yarmolkevich and Carr also worked with Student Government Association, Facilities Management, the Town of Normal, Dean of Students Office, and the Office of Equal Opportunity to get the audio signals installed at the busy intersection.
These partnerships continue to grow and strengthen, especially with the Town of Normal. Metivier expressed her thanks to the Town of Normal for their support. “They have been very responsive in ensuring the signals have been functioning properly, and it has been a great partnership,” she said.
SAAS provides accommodations and services for students with disabilities and/or medical/mental health conditions who are pursuing an education at Illinois State University. Student Access and Accommodation Services continues to teach students self-advocacy skills, as well as advocate for students, campus members, and community members to make Illinois State’s campus safer and inclusive for all.