Access for All bestows the cosmos for disabled students
On Monday, March 25, Access For All, a club promoting disability services around campus, hosted a sensory-friendly star show in the planetarium. Presented was the film “Black Holes” which is narrated by Liam Neeson and a star guide.
The show was meant to help students with disabilities who usually cannot enjoy the planetarium because of how dark it is or because they can not hear the narration. To accommodate those with disabilities Access For All had the lights low and had sign language interpreters in the corners lit up by lighting equipment from the Multimedia Hub.
Madalina Kelner, president for Access For All and organizer for the show, was always very impressed with star shows and the sensory overload.
“I was always taken aback by how many senses are used by the planetarium,” Kelner said. “The space itself offers a lot of sensory enrichment. But there are a few issues the planetarium has when it comes to accessibility.”
Kelner notes that because the space becomes very dark it would be tough for the audience to see a sign language interpreter. The planetarium does have wheelchair access so they did not have to worry about that.
Access For All hosts events that are “fun and engaging,” making sure students are learning about disability awareness and understanding how they can become better advocates.
“We try to jump-start conversations with students with and without disabilities to make sure a stronger common ground is built,” Kelner said.
This is in one effort to make the UMD campus more accommodating. Something else they have done is make sensory places in the library. In rooms on the fourth floor, exercise balls and other athletic equipment can be found for students.
“I think UMD does a really good job with ensuring students with disabilities are accommodated,” Kelner said. “For almost every place that Access For All has offered more advice, [UMD] has been very accepting and responsive.”
The Multicultural Center has now taken the steps to make their events more accessible.
“By our group existing and leading by example with the events that we have we’re offering other student groups to talk with us and make their events more accessible,” Kelner said.
If you have been to an event that you believe could have been more accessible to students with disabilities, Access For All wants to know. You can contact Kelner with suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.