With national attention towards the ongoing Seoul Metro protests by Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, Ewha students are also making efforts to support the mobility rights of students with diabilities.
Thinking the Difference, the self-governing body for the rights of disabled students of Ewha, organized an event for Ewha students to learn about discrimination against the disabled from April 2 to April 30. The month-long event aimed to inform the campus about the discriminatory facilities within Ewha and demand reforms. The organization has submitted reports on Ask for Ewha about on-campus areas in need repair such as the damaged braille blocks at the school entrance and Ewha Campus Complex.
However, many areas that need modifications to increase accessibility have been left unnoticed by students.
For one thing, the school is struggling with a lack of assistants for students with disabilities. Every semester, students can apply to assist students with hearing and visual impairments through the Support Center for Students with Disabilities. Yet, the center faced a shortage of applicants this semester, which resulted in some classes having no help available. According to a notice for the additional recruitment of assistants, that has since been deleted, a total of nine classes lacked participants.
In addition, several facilities for the disabled still require attention.
A junior from the College of Art & Design who wishes to remain anonymous demanded renovations for buildings lacking amenities such as elevators and automatic doors. She also mentioned that the Ewha Centennial Library should consider building elevators or ramps to allow easier access for students with disabilites.
“Students with disabilities who use buildings without basic amenities will inevitably experience difficulties compared to non-disabled students,” she said.
She also expressed her concerns regarding the heavy doors and rails that could potentially injure students in wheelchairs as they could get stuck or fall.
On Everytime, an incident occurred within the College of Art & Design in which one student mentioned the installation of an elevator, but another stated that their college does not need an elevator as they do not have any students with disabilites.
“I would like to ask if you ever thought that there are no students with disabilites because there are no elevators, and not that there are no elevators because there are no students with disabilites,” our source responded.
Mobility is an important issue for those who have physical disabilities, and it is a crucial factor of considering admission to a school. She believes that increasing the accessibility by installing universal design can lower the barriers for students with disabilites to consider admission. According to T hinking the Difference, such deficiencies might discourage students with disabilities from coming to Ewha, which could even deprive them of the opportunity to communicate with non-disabled students.
An activist with the organization who also wished to remain anonymous remarked that the Support Center for Students with Disabilities is making various efforts, especially in the aspect of education, such as providing class materials and student assistants.
She stated that for now, a shortage of universal accessibility is the biggest issue. Along with the absence of automatic doors and elevators, the inefficiency of ramps can impede access to buildings as some of them are too steep.
Another activist, Lee Ju-myung, explained the actions Thinking the Difference has taken so far.
One was distributing lip-view masks to the president, school personnel, and other employees of Ewha. They provided the masks to librarians and security guards as well to allow students with hearing impairments to communicate more easily.
They have also hosted a campaign demanding the installation of more braille and automatic doors by gathering signatures from students and submitting them to the school. To this point, they have not received any reply, nor has any enhancement been applied to the campus.
Both activists stressed that the most important thing is to show students’ concern regarding this agenda. They suggested that students at Ewha make improvement requests regarding discriminatory facilities or environmental issues through diverse channels, as the more students raise their voices, the more the school will make efforts to cope with related issues.