Speech class makes progress for handicapped students

May 12, 2011

by Justin Fort, STAFF REPORTER

Every spring an organizational communications class, Speech 431, takes part in a project to help better the university.

This years’ project, Access Tech, is focused on making Tech more accessible for handicapped students.

Ashley Pennington, a senior speech major in the class, said the whole class was behind this year’s project.

“There’s so much stuff that needs to be done,” she said. “They (Disability’s Office) don’t have the funds for everything.”

Access Tech’s goal was to raise $5,000 to upgrade the university. Pennington said the three things they wanted to add included an automatic door to the College of Education dean’s office, a curb cut where handicapped students can ride onto the curb and a program for dyslexic students.

In an effort to raise the funds, Access Tech held two events last week: a wheelchair basketball tournament and a movie night in Tolliver Hall.

Clint Carlisle, the newly elected Student Government Association president and president of Pi Kappa Phi, said he strongly supports the goals of Access Tech. Pi Kappa Phi, which sponsors Push America, a philanthropic organization dedicated to raising awareness for people with disabilities, sponsored the movie night May 2 in Tolliver Hall to help raise funds and assist Access Tech in reaching its $5,000 goal.

“Access Tech is doing a lot of great things for our university, and I was honored to help them out,” Carlisle said. “The goals of Access Tech hold a special place in my heart.”

He said he attributes the lack of accessibility to Tech’s age. A school founded more than 100 years ago would not necessarily have or want to comply with certain standards for marginalized people.

“Louisiana Tech is an older campus, and we are definitely behind the times in many areas,” he said.

Tech and its Disability Office have been making strides toward becoming more accessible for handicapped students. Although still behind, the addition of automatic doors and ramps help to update the school.

“Their hard work and dedication is priceless,” Carlisle said of the eight students in Bryan Townsend’s Speech 431 class.

Access Tech raised approximately $3,000, which gave them only enough money to improve one of the three things they were aiming to. Pennington said the class has not decided which they plan on doing, but any of them would be a great addition to the university.

“We have a long way to go, but with organizations like Access Tech, we will hopefully be fully compliant with all accessibility requirements in the near future,” Carlisle said.

“It is a truly remarkable thing when a group of students work for something bigger than themselves.”

Email comments to jwf014@latech.edu.