News from DAC NW



North Idaho College has made new seating areas for wheelchair access in Schuler Performing Arts Center and ongoing staff training on best practices for interacting with people with disabilities. This is in response to a letter sent in June of last year about an experience at an event.
Michelle Porter, a wheelchair user, bought tickets for accessible seating for an event at North Idaho College. When she and her friends when to the accessible seating area where they bought the tickets they found that it wasn’t accessible. So Michelle decided she would just sit in the isle but an usher pointed out that she couldn’t sit in the isle because it was against the fire code. So Michelle was moved to the back of the auditorium behind the seats and split up from her friends because there were no seats for friends without wheelchairs.
In October 2015 Michelle e-mailed a letter to Joe Dunlap, President of North Idaho College, about how upset she was by not being able to sit wherever she wanted with her friends and how she felt left out. She made the suggestion of removing seats so wheelchairs could sit there. Joe immediately e-mailed her back and thanked her for informing him about the problem and told her that he was contacting VP of Student Services, Graydon Stanley, and Justin VanEaten, Schuler Director, who he believed would help find a resolution to the accessibility problem at the auditorium.
“I was surprised at how quick he responded. He e-mailed me back within 5 minutes and it was 5:30 at night. He seemed genuinely concerned about my experience and seemed to be making sure the problem would be fixed as soon as possible. I wish all organizations stepped-up the way he did. Instead of making excuses, he just jumped into action. I was so impressed that I couldn’t be angry anymore. It really meant a lot that he cared enough to actually listen to what the problem was and find a resolution,” said Michelle.
The auditorium is currently under construction to remove seats throughout the theater so people in wheelchairs can now sit with friends and will be done soon.
Bravo North Idaho College! This is how a complaint should be handled. No excuses, just solutions. North Idaho College is the perfect example of how accessibility should be at all college auditoriums, providing people who use wheelchairs access and choices, just like everyone else. Under the ADA, proper accommodation for persons in wheelchairs requires theaters to provide access to various levels. That way a person with a physical disability has the same degree of choice as an able bodied person.