UT student senate wants Braille in all campus buildings

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – University of Tennessee students are trying to make it easier for people who are blind to get around campus.

The student senate passed a bill this week to put braille inside the nursing building. A UT spokeswoman says out of the 256 buildings on campus, all of the ones built and renovated within the last 10 years have Braille. However, the senate also wants to make sure the older buildings have it as well.

The writer of the bill is UT sophomore Elizabeth Hamilton. From walking around campus to doing homework, Hamilton has always had to make adjustments in her daily life.

She was born with scarring in her eyes and is considered low vision and extremely sensitive to light.

“You find little ways to work through it, and this campus has always been wonderful to me about saying you’re different let’s celebrate that, welcome,” Hamilton said.

While she was going to her speech class in the nursing building, she realized her classroom didn’t have Braille underneath the room number.

“There’s no way for a student that can’t see that to tell.”

Elizabeth says she wants all buildings on campus to meet the guidelines set by the Americans for Disabilities Act.

“The answer I got was that the odds of a blind or visually impaired student being a nursing major, spending a lot of time in the building were low. But my argument was a lot of students have at least one class here during their four years, whether or not it has anything to do with nursing. I just felt like we didn’t need to wait for that blind nursing major to come in. We needed to make sure that the buildings were welcoming and ready now,” Hamilton said.

The bill passed unanimously.

“As a low vision student it was really powerful for me because it was like I was able to get people behind me on something that I’m so passionate about but not a lot of people may be aware of,” Hamilton said.

She estimates engraving Braille into the nursing building would cost about $1,800. It’s now up to UT staff to decide whether to approve the bill and make this happen.

There is a group on campus that works to improve accessibility in all of the buildings. They have not specifically received a request involving the nursing building signage.

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