SGA Looks To Improve Accessibility Campus-Wide


Maria Basileo

Junior criminology major Milagros Valdez orders food at Devil’s Den on the touch screen system, which the SGA will try to make more accessible.

Kristina Vakhman, News Editor

When Armando Osorio went to get food at Devil’s Den with her blind friend, she did not yet know exactly how difficult it is for him just to place an order on the touch screens.

“I realized, ‘Oh, he wants someone to go because he can’t do it by himself.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s just so frustrating and inconvenient for you,'” Osorio said. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, it’s not a big deal, but it sucks.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s a big deal, but it’s something someone else can fix.'”

Now, Osorio has decided to be that “someone.” With the support of the rest of the Student Government Association, the at-large senator is taking the lead on introducing accessibility options throughout Central Connecticut’s dining locations, believing that it is “ridiculous” someone visually-impaired cannot perform simple tasks without the help of others because of a lack of aid.

“Because we all have days we don’t wanna talk to anyone or we’re just really busy and we just wanna go, get our food and leave. And I think that just because you need a mild accommodation, that should just be provided. It should not be something that someone has to go completely out of their way for,” Osorio said.

According to an email from Jonathan Small, director of Devil’s Den, to Osorio and provided by her, this issue is an easy fix.

“NEXTEP SYSTEMS does have solutions for the Visually impaired and blind.  These solutions are not part of the standard product suite, but can be implemented with a change request,” Small wrote to Osorio, adding that he has contacted them and will soon have additional information.

Osorio hopes that, ideally, the solution will come by the end of the semester not only at Devil’s Den, but at CCSU’s other dining halls like Hilltop Cafe and Memorial Hall.

“They have an app that shows the menu, but if they can revisit the app and add an auditory option to those things, that’d be incredibly useful to other students as well,” Osorio stated. “I feel like when we talk about accessibility, we really don’t talk about it. We don’t put ourselves in those shoes.”

“With all the bad press that is going on, I hope that Central can look at this and be like, ‘This is an easy way that we can better accommodate our students and make Central feel like a safer environment,” she went on.

The SGA, especially the Student Life Committee to whom Osorio belongs, are behind her endeavors. Student Life Committee Chair Kristina Rodrigues said that she and the committee “support” Osorio and will provide her with help, if needed.

“It’s really just the difference of finding a different monitor or finding a different system or something else, something that would actually be accessible rather than requiring other people and isn’t inhabitant of someone’s life,” Rodrigues said.

In addition to audio ordering and possibly braille menus at payment at dining locations, there are talks of replacing the slabs that comprise the university’s pathways with white pavement to assist those on wheels, Rodrigues furthered.

“Anyone who has a walker or who has a wheelchair have difficulty navigating and they have to go out of their way to get to areas that they need to go to,” Rodrigues explained. In her opinion, the walkways are not easy for individuals who are not handicapped, too. “That’s really hard to navigate even as an able-bodied walking person because it’s such a steep incline. If someone lives up the hill, that’s dangerous in the wintertime.”

Moreover, Rodrigues said that the SGA was planning on having someone inspect the campus’ handicapped doors and buttons because they are becoming “off their grind” due to people pushing and pulling on them; it’s an issue even in the SGA office.

“Some of them, you really have to punch them because they don’t work,” Rodrigues said. “Considering how many places we’re seeking out improvement, I think for the people who need it most, they should also be included. Let’s make it so no one can struggle.”