For students with visual impairments like Andrew Daugherty, Santa Fe College used to be much easier to navigate.
There used to be textured maps and poles, structures which the Santa Fe human resources senior said students with vision loss could use to get around campus. But now both of those are gone, which makes navigating campus difficult for the visually impaired.
At age 3, Daugherty was diagnosed with rod-cone dystrophy, a visual impairment that affects a person’s peripheral vision. The 27-year-old’s vision is now near blindness.
Now, Daugherty and other students with visual impairments may receive more assistance following Student Senate’s approval of a resolution to help these students navigate campus.
The resolution made no specific suggestions on how it would help students, but Sen. Connor Levine said he hopes to put braille on the maps around campus.
Daugherty said Santa Fe used to have textured maps around campus that were about the height of pulpits and had different textures for grass, buildings and roads.
“You could actually just feel everything and know exactly where you’re supposed to go,” Daugherty said. But one day, he said, “they just disappeared.”
Now, Santa Fe has large paper maps placed inside protector cases.
Standing about 6 feet away from one of the current signs on campus Friday, Daugherty could see the map but couldn’t make out the letters. When he got closer, he said the bright light reflecting off the white on the map hurt his eyes.
Disabilities Resource Center Coordinator Claudia Connelly said the college offers assistance to students with vision loss through the Division Blind Services.
Specialists train students with vision loss on safety techniques and show them how to get to their classes, Connelly said.
But when students with vision loss need to go somewhere new on campus, she said, they require assistance.
Before Levine met Daugherty, he said he didn’t realize the challenges students with vision loss face on campus.
“It’s a little ironic that he opened my eyes to how difficult it is (to navigate campus),” Levine said.
[A version of this story ran on page 9 on 2/24/2015 under the headline “Santa Fe resolution calls for more accessibility for visually impaired”]
Hunter Williamson is the Santa Fe/Metro reporter at the Alligator and a freshman at Santa Fe. After graduating, he plans to travel to the Middle East where he hopes to give a voice to the voiceless through journalism.