Stillwater News Press

June 18, 2013

Students learn what it’s like to live with physical disability at Oklahoma State camp

By Chase Rheam
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Putting themselves in other peoples’ positions was an important aspect for a handful of students during the Oklahoma State University Summer Design Day Camp held this week.

The camp, which ends Thursday, is designed to give high school students the opportunity to work on assistive devices for people of all ages with physical disabilities.

Principal Adviser Paulette Hebert is one of five university staff members from the College of Human Sciences, along with three college students and five high school students taking part in the pilot program.

Hebert said the devices can include a wide range of uses.

“Today we’re going to create luggage tags that have LED emitting diodes so that vision impaired people can find their luggage easily,” Hebert said.

She said the high school students will have three products to work on over the length of the camp.

“We’re mostly working with vision impaired this week,” she said. “There’s also hearing impaired.”

Another adviser, Mihyun Kang, said she would like to see what can be done with the program through the joint effort of the students and those with physical disabilities, which the camp is conducting now.

“We invited the speakers and we invited (those) with physical challenges and we walk around the campus and go into the hotel on campus and kind of see what they can experience with a physical challenge,” Kang said.

Hebert said the camp is bringing the issue of accessibility and what can be done to the forefront.

“We are raising awareness of people with physical challenges and raising awareness of their needs and helping to solve, in a small way, some of their challenges,” she said.

Students design, sketch and use clay during the camp. They will also design a housing for a bed shaker, a vibrating motor that assists those who cannot hear an alarm well in waking up and a glove with built-in lights that will help the visually impaired.

The high school students represent Yale, Cushing and Ponca City. They were required to fill out an application form and explain why they wanted to come to the camp.

Yale High School freshman Kara Dodson said she was enjoying the experience and education, including a hands-on chance to traverse campus while in a wheelchair.

“I’ve actually learned quite a few things the first day of camp,” Dodson said. “I didn’t know how it would be if you had a disability like using a wheelchair like we did. It actually changed a lot of my thoughts about people who were disabled and how hard it is for them.”

Hebert said she would like to the camp expand in participation size and offerings.

For more information on the program, contact Hebert at 744-9931.