How accessible is GV for disabled students?

Hannah Lentz

Grand Valley State University has over 800 registered students with disabilities. With the university growing exponentially, accessibility for students across campus with physical disabilities is a main concern.

“Grand Valley strives to be an inclusive campus for all individuals,” said Kathleen VanderVeen, assistant vice president for inclusion planning and director of disability support resources. “GV works hard to be accessible for individuals who have mobility impairments and our facilities are a testament to this commitment. Faculty are considerate and helpful when they have a student with a disability in the classroom and generally include a statement on their syllabus that announces to a student with a disability how to get accommodations and how to contact disability support resources.”

In addition to GVSU’s physical disability amenities, the university also has a Campus Links program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The program helps with the social aspect of college for students with ASD. It is a residential program and very unique. It pairs the participating student with a mentor who then helps the student to navigate the social waters.

Though the disability organization does work to improve accessibility and make campus as manageable as possible, one concern is keeping all students as knowledgeable as possible. Some common mistakes include bus consideration and using railings to lock up bicycles. The railing system was put in place and is needed for students to go up the ramp and enter buildings.

“Students with disabilities riding The Rapid, especially those who use wheelchairs, need to be allowed to enter the bus first,” VanderVeen said. “Too often, students who use wheelchairs are in the back of the line following many able bodied students. By the time they enter the bus, there is no room. It is important to be considerate and allow your peers in wheelchairs to get on the bus first or toward the front of the line.”

One GVSU student dealing with these concerns is Chandler McBride.

“GVSU is, for the most part, very accessible,” McBride said. “The only problem I’ve had are with doors going into classrooms themselves. If the professors usually leave them shut, it is difficult to get inside. The same goes for Campus Dining, sometimes things are out of reach and hard to get to.”

Though McBride is mostly impressed by GVSU’s accommodations, the biggest problem for him is the testing accommodations. Many times, professors change days of exams or exam accommodations which means he has to meet with a DSR advisor and the professor to have a paper signed to work things out.

“When I leave to go to class or wherever I’m going, in my head I don’t think of myself as being in a wheelchair,” McBride said. “What reminds me I’m disabled is the way someone looks at me or something they say or do. Don’t be afraid to talk to students with disabilities.”

For more information on the Campus Links program, visit

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