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Harsh winter increases accessibility challenges for disabled students

In the best of conditions, it can be a challenge for Jess Ferencz to get around.

In the best of conditions, it can be a challenge to get around.

But with all the snow this winter, Jess Ferencz has found it to be especially trying.

"Last week, we had a huge snowfall and I was stuck in a snowbank,” said Ferencz, a third-year student at the University of Ottawa who uses a wheelchair. "I'm also in residence and I've been stuck in my room all weekend because of the snow. If the snow gets too bad, I can't go to class.”

The university needs a better system for snow removal around campus to improve accessibility, she said.

Ferencz was one of 30 students gathered at Tabaret Hall this afternoon for a demonstration to remind administration that it is their responsibility to make the campus accessible. They also presented a shovel with the uOttawa logo to administration.

The demonstration in the main stairway of the hall was to give students and staff an idea of how difficult it is for students with disabilities every day, said Seamus Wolfe, VP university affairs of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

Wolfe said the student federation constantly hears how students using wheelchairs get stuck in the snow between buildings, or are unable to leave the residences because the snow hasn‚t been cleared.

He also added that students are missing classes and, in some cases, exams, because they are unable to get through the snow.

"This has been going on for a while,” said Wolfe, who said the issue was first brought up about two years ago. "And we've never seen any real changes.”

 
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